Autobiographyof Willie "Tee"
Willie -Tee Trahan" was born in Lafayette, La. on March 1, 1944, son of a share cropper. At the age of nine he would listen to his brother Harry, play the french accordion, and learned how to play french music on the harmonica. One year later , Bessyl Duhon , who was playing in a french band with Harry and "The Judice Ramblers" lent Willie-Tee one of his guitars, which is how he learned to play very little guitar.
Willie -Tee joined the Judice School Band. He wanted to play the saxophone, but none were available. Being big for his age, the band director strapped the sousa-phone over his shoulders and said,''You can handle this". So for eight years , he played the sousa-phone in the Judice, Carencro, N.P.Moss and NorthSide High School Bands.
Willie-Tee played his first professional gig at St. Anthony's Hall in Lafayette with "Pedro & The Cool Cats" which consisted of the following: Leader and drummer: Jimmy Hernandez, vocalist, rythum guitar,or piano (if one was available) Willie Tee, guitar: Raywood Baudoin, and saxophone: Elmo Gary. They each made $1.25 that night, cover charge was 25 cents.
About three months later Willie-Tee asked Elmo if he could borrow his saxophone and one week later he was asked by Alvin Dugas to join his band,"Little Alvin & the ChipMunks".
So Willie quit the Cool Cats, and his father co-signed a note for a Sears & Roebuck saxophone.That's how he got started on the saxophone. He played with the Chipmunks for six months or so and then quit and started his own band, "Willie & the Jokers". He recorded his first 45 record at J.D.Millers recording studio in Crowley, La .in 1959 on Viking label. Featuring Kenny Tibbs on vocals, the song was " I Promise" which was successful for a local record at that time. It sold over 11,000 copies .Soon after that they recorded a song written by Robert Guidry, better known as 'Bobby Charles' entitled "They Played Our Song Last Night" . It was a very good song, but never got the air play that it was due.
Soon after the recordings people would come up to the stage and mistake Kenny for Willie. They would look at Kenny and say Willie, please play whatever, so they changed the name of the band to "Kenny And The Jokers " to avoid confusion, and after nearly 40 years The Jokers are still performing.
In the summer of 1960, Willie-Tee spent two weeks in Port Arthur,Tx. with his brother Harry, who had his own french accordion band & radio show with Huey Meaux as the M.C. Harry's drummer had walked out on him, leaving him without a drummer.In the audience was a barber from Winnie, Tx., who claimed he could play drums. Out of desperation , Harry had no choice but to let Huey have a crack at it.Well, needless to say, they had to rough it through the night. Harry, like Willie-Tee, doesn't feel comfortable having to speak to an audience, so he turned over his microphone to Huey and hired another drummer. Fact is, Huey Meaux has helped produce a lot of musicians including: BJ Thomas, Doug Sham, Red Savine, Freddy Fender, Tommy McClain,Warren Storm, Barbara Lynn, Jimmy Donley,Willie Tee and others I don't know about.
During his stay in Texas, Willie-Tee learned how to play french music on the saxophone and had the pleasure to play with the legendary Link Davis, who happened to be a GUEST STAR one night with Harry's band.
Willie-Tee joined the "Clint West And The Fabulous BoogieKings"band, which is definitely the best R & B band he ever played with.The members were, leader, vocalist & drummer: Clint West, vocalist: Gary Walker, vocalist, bass guitar: Tommy McLain, vocalist and keyboards : Johnny Geordano, lead guitar: Danny Sonnier. Horn section were, lead trumpet :Tilly Lawrence, trumpet: Jean Settlers, trumpet: John Packman, lead sax: Jon Smith, sax: Leroy Leiony, sax & vocalist Willie-Tee, baritone sax: Johnny Smithy.
They recorded, " Live at The Purple Peacock" album, several 45s, and Tommy McLain's " Sweet Dreams", which was a million seller. Also Clint West's "Big Blue Diamonds", "Mr Jeweler", "When My Heart Hurts No More", "Twelfth of Never" , and also a 45 on ABC Paramount, which got no air play, entitled " Ain't Love A Funny Thing."
When Tommy McLain returned from his Sweet Dreams tour, he put a band together called "The National Soul Revue," which included, Charles Mann: vocals, Little Alfred: vocals, Willie-Tee : sax and vocals, Dick Lagassy: trumpet, Danny Sonnier: guitar, Rickey Kelly: bass, Ronnie Broussard: drums, and Chuck Tomlinson: keyboards . At that time Charles Mann recorded " Red Red Wine", which was a local hit.
After Tommy and Charles quit, the band was turned over to Willie-Tee as it's leader. Not wanting to be leader, he hired Allen Wayne as a vocalist and turned over the band to him. Allen made drastic changes,the band was now "Machine". Players were, Bass guitar:Steve Morrow, lead guitar: Sunny Landreth, drums: Steve Dugas, alto sax: Jeff Fournet trombone: Bob Mercer vocals: Oran Guidry, vocals and sax: Willie Tee, keyboards and vocalist:( who later became a Seven times Gram-my Awards Winner with the nationally famous "TOTO" band) Bobby Kimball ."Machine" had very good success in the local clubs but no recordings were ever accomplished in this group.
After going on the road for one year "Machine" broke up.Willie-Tee returned with Tommy McLain's "Mule Train Band" who was playing at the Sherrington Town House lounge in Lafayette. After being there a short time Paul Newman and Warner Brothers productions moved into the Sherrington to make a movie. The movie was entitled "The Drowning Pool". Much to Willie Tee's surprise, they wanted him to sing a Fats Domino song in the movie entitled " My Little Margie".The movie was released in 1975 and got unfavorable reviews. Oh Well, you can't win them all.
Willie-Tee recorded on a couple of albums with Tommy McLain and in 1976 he finally recorded his first 45, "Sick And Tired", a Chris Kenner song, on Huey Meaux's Crazy Cajun label. That same year the" Mule Train Band" went on a two week tour to Canada to back up Freddy Fender, who was also on the Crazy Cajun Label.When Willie-Tee went to lip-sync " Sick And Tired " on "Passe- Par-tout", a local T.V. show hosted by, Jim Oliver, Jim asked him to play on his french album, which he did and also played on his next album.
Warren Storm & Willie-Tee put together a band called "Cypress" .They had their own half hour TV show every Saturday afternoon on K.A.D.N. channel 15 from 3:30 to 4:00-P.M. for three years,1981-82-83.
Willie-Tee's second 45 was released " Before The Next Tear-drop Falls" done instrumentally on his Selmer tenor saxophone with the same sound track as Freddy's version of his hit record, but didn't get any air play??????????.
Willie-Tee played with the late & great Leroy Broussard every Sunday afternoon at Alex Broussard's Ranch in Judice, La., which lasted till 1986.During this time he recorded the "Leroy Broussard And Lagniape" french accordion album. Willie-Tee says he is proud to have been on his last recording, God rest his soul.
Another 45 of Willie-Tee was released on Master-track label out of Crowley La. entitled " Thats The Way Love Goes". One week after the release, Meryl Haggard released a completely different melody, but a song with the same title & guess who's record was played?
Warren Storm & Willie-Tee played on an album with Rockin Sidney entitled,"Boogie Blues-n Zydeco"
They again recorded with Rockin Sidney when John Fogarty, lead singer with the world famous "Credence Clear Water Revival" group, came down to Crowley to re-record Sidney's version of "Don't Mess With My Toot Toot" which was shown on "Show-Time" on a one hour John Fogarty Special.
Warren & Willie-Tee continued to work together till 1989 when they both had offers they couldn't refuse. Willie-Tee went to the "Top-Inn" lounge in Lafayette, La. and had his own group, "Willie-Tee & The Heat" , which lasted until 1992. Then Willie went back and worked with Warren Storm and the "Yesterdays Band" until 1994.
Willie-Tee re-joined " The Fabulous BoogieKings " who after 20+ years got back together in 1991 under the leadership of Ned Theall and Jon Smith.
Willie-Tee recorded on a CD with "The Deuce of Hearts", a father and son duo from Lock-port, La.who are known as Gary T. and Travis T. Some of the songs they wrote are: "Take My Hand" , "My Belle My Belle" re-recorded by Wayne Toups.
"The BoogieKings" recorded " Swamp Boogie Blues" a collection of swamp pop vocalist from the South Louisiana area which include : Rod Bernard, Johnny Allen, Tommy McLain, Warren Storm ,Wayne Toups, Dennis Norris, Dwayne Yates. Cookie, Little Bob, Everett Brady, Dale & Grace , Pat Strazza, and yours truly: Willie-Tee.
Willie-Tee is enjoying performing with "T.K. Hulin & Smoke" . T.K.Hulin, born in St. Martinville, La. is a soulful entertainer, much like Otis Redding with a whole lot of drive and funk.Some of his regional hits include,"I'm Not a Fool Anymore" and "Graduation Night". T.K. & Smoke. Check out T.K. Hulin's latest CD. "Simply T.K.".
Willie"Tee" also performs with The Fabulous BoogieKings,Warren Storm, Lil-Alfred & Streak, B.B.C, Joe Douglass, The Frankie St. Band, Southern Breeze, and The Deuce of Hearts.
Willie-Tee released his first CD "I Beleive In My Soul" and it is now available on his Home Page.
Willie-Tee is also included on the "Louisiana Legends" CD produced by Paul Marx, owner of K.B.O.N. 101.1 FM radio station,who airs (Swamp-Pop, cajun, zydeco, country) music.
Warren Storm & I have reasembled our Cypress Band of the 80's and we are concentrating all our efforts on booking and promoting this band. This is why i have taken a vacation from appearing with The Fabulous BoogieKings.
Our Warren Storm Willie "Tee" & " Cypress Band has started off better than we expected thanks to our devoted Fans from all over Louisiana and the Texas Golden Triangle area.!!
Willie-"Tee" is one of South Louisiana's finest and respected musician who has entertained audiences for over 35 years. Willie-Tee has demonstrated that his love for music should be played from the heart and soul.
After three more years of steady gigging our Warren Storm Willie "Tee" & "Cypress Band " is tighter than ever. We have just released our first Cypress Band CD.
If you would like to purchase a Willie-"Tee CD " I Believe In My Soul", "Back in Time" "Go On And Cry" or our new "Cypress Band" CD, featuring Warren Storm and Willie "Tee " go to our products page
2012 I would like to clarify that Warren Storm is still with the "Cypress Band". He does play some gigs with "The Lil Band of Gold" which is a compalation of south louisiana musicians who have their own groups, such as Steve Riley, C.C. Adcock, and David Egan. We have recorded a new CD that Warren chose not to be on, although we asked him several times. So we decided to ask Tommy McLain, Charles Mann & Lynn August to be on it which they gladly accepted. The CD is intittled "Legends Making Memories" Please check it out and possibly order one!