A native of Chicago, Williams was first inspired by his uncle,
renowned slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, with whom he studied as a young teen.
Hutto not only taught him slide, but also introduced Williams to bass and
drums. Williams’ half-brother, James Young, was also a student of Hutto,
and later became the bassist for the Blues Imperials. The brothers
co-founded their group in the early ’70s and went professional
in 1975, playing at

They began playing urban clubs and festivals all over the country and
eventually toured Canada, Europe and Japan. They released their second
album, Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, in 1989, and the success continued
as the Blues Imperials began appearing

third album, the group went on hiatus for a few years during which
Lil’ Ed Williams released two albums on Earwig, 1996’s Keep On Walking
with Dave Weld and 1998’s Who’s Been Talking with Willie Kent. In 1999
the band reconvened and released Get Wild. They followed it up with Heads
Up, their fifth Alligator record, in 2002.
Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials are among the premiere party bands
to have come out of Chicago during the ’80s. Often compared to Elmore
James and Hound Dog Taylor, fiery, flamboyant slide guitarist Lil’ Ed
Williams and his group play dedicated, rough-edged and hard-rocking dance
music and have established an international reputation.

Big Duke’s Blue Flame on the West Side. The gig earned
them a whopping six bucks, which the group members split evenly. In those
early years, Williams worked days at a car wash while Young drove a school bus.
Despite their humble start, Williams and the Blues Imperials kept performing
at night and by the early ’80s had developed a substantial regional following.
Signing to Alligator in the mid-’80s, they released their debut album, Roughhousin’,
in 1986 and found themselves receiving national attention.

with such artists as Koko Taylor
and Elvin Bishop during the Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour.
They released their third album What You See is What You Get in 1992.
If Ed, half-brother Pookie Young, and the latest members of the revamped
Blues Imperials never did much to modernize their blues or develop a new
sound, that was just fine with the band’s followers (“Ed Heads,” no less),
to whom the raucous, rocking slide guitar heritage of Hutto, Hound Dog Taylor,
and Elmore James is blues nirvana. Following their

Their sixth album, Rattleshake, appeared in 2006.   – AMG