Behind the Band Name: Wet Willie

A Southern rock style that was scorched by fiery soul and burning blues became Wet Willie’s trademark. For nearly a decade, their distinct sound helped to usher in a Southern rock heyday alongside giants like the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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They may have been the lesser known of the three, but Wet Willie is no less memorable. From the first listen, the band sticks with you like a damp finger to an unsuspecting ear.

Behind the Band Name

Before they were Wet Willie, the Mobile, Alabama-formed band was called Fox.

“Fox was formed in 1969 by myself, Jack Hall, and Rick Hirsch,” Jimmy Hall explained in a 2007 interview, originally published in Bands Of Dixie. “Along with John Anthony on keyboards and guitar and Lewis Ross on drums, we were the five original players that [became] Wet Willie a year later.”

Fox experimented greatly with their sound during that time, finding their footing as the soulful Southern rockers they eventually became. The band found influences in the likes of Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, James Brown, Otis Redding, Van Morrison, and the burgeoning rock band, the Allman Brothers Band.

It was when they saw the traction that the Allman Brothers Band was getting after signing to the Macon, Georgia-based label, Capricorn Records, that the band made a career-altering move. Relocating to Georgia’s music Mecca of that time proved to be worthwhile. There Wet Willie was born. “We were given the opportunity to audition and soon afterward we were signed to [Capricorn Records] as Wet Willie,” Hall said, going into detail about the name.

“We changed our name in 1970 to Wet Willie because as we were planning to record, we discovered that there was another band by the name of Fox already, so we had to change it,” he explained. “The origin of the name is that we liked soulful names like Rufus, Willie, etc. that typified our style, so we thought Wet Willie will be a fun, different name that no one else would have.”

He added, “In England, a ‘Wet Willie’ is a common trick or prank played on someone. They would wet their finger and stick it in your ear, then run.”

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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