William James "Willie" Dixon (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. A Grammy Award winner who was proficient on both the Upright bass and the guitar, as well as his own singing voice, Dixon is arguably best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time. Dixon is recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound. His songs have been recorded not only by himself, or that of the trio and other ensembles in which he participated, but an uncounted number of musicians representing many genres between them. A short list of his most famous compositions include "Little Red Rooster", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Evil", "Spoonful", "Back Door Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You", "I Ain't Superstitious", "My Babe", "Wang Dang Doodle", and "Bring It On Home". They were written during the peak of Chess Records, 1950–1965, and performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Walter, influencing a worldwide generation of musicians. Next to Muddy Waters, he was the most influential person in shaping the post World War II sound of the Chicago blues. He also was an important link between the blues and rock and roll, working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the late 1950s. His songs were covered by some of the biggest artists of more recent times, including Styx, Bob Dylan, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Foghat, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Megadeth, The Doors, The Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, and a posthumous duet with Colin James.
Dixon was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 1, 1915. His mother Daisy often rhymed the things she said, a habit Dixon imitated. At the age of 7, he became an admirer of a band that featured pianist Little Brother Montgomery. Dixon was first introduced to blues when he served time on prison farms in Mississippi as an early-teenager. He learned how to sing harmony as a teen as well, from local carpenter Leo Phelps. Dixon sang bass in Phelps' group, The Jubilee Singers, a local gospel quartet that regularly appeared on the Vicksburg radio station WQBC. Dixon began adapting poems he was writing into songs, and even sold some of them to local music groups.
Dixon left Mississippi for Chicago in 1936. A man of considerable stature, at 6 and a half feet and weighing over 250 pounds, he took up boxing; he was so successful that he won the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship (Novice Division) in 1937. Dixon turned professional as a boxer and worked briefly as Joe Louis' sparring partner. After four fights, Dixon left boxing after getting into a fight with his manager over being cheated out of money.