Local Current Blog

Minnesota musicians pay tribute to the late great Willie Murphy

Willie Murphy, 2017. (Nate Ryan/MPR)

Though the Twin Cities lost the local R&B legend Willie Murphy earlier this week, he is far from forgotten. From fans and fellow Minnesotan musicians alike, here are just a few of the tributes to the “godfather” of the Minneapolis music scene that have spread on social media since the musician’s death.

Peace out old man…it was cool to do a set or two with you!

Posted by Eric Austin on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Woke up to sad news today. My old friend Willie Murphy passed away. He played on my first albums, he was Bonnie Raitts first producer and backing band Wilie Murphy and the Bumblebees. R.I.P Wilie Murphy

Posted by Olé Ask on Sunday, January 13, 2019

R.I.P. Willie Murphy: music pioneer, Minnesota music legend, and master musician. Your contribution will not be forgotten.

Posted by Owen Husney on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Damn. The first guy I got into when I happened upon the West Bank music scene. The king of the 400 Bar and a man of impeccable taste in music. RIP Willie.

Posted by Pete Sandvik on Sunday, January 13, 2019

It is with a heavy heart that we share the tragic news that Willie Murphy has passed away. We had turned to him for…

Posted by Bitter Roots on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Willie MurphyThank you everyone who checked in yesterday about Willie, either on FB or on the phone. I learned from…

Posted by Chris Osgood on Monday, January 14, 2019

View this post on Instagram

As a young and very impressionable musician, alone home from college on a winter break, I wandered into the OLD 400 Bar one weeknight, before they had knocked out the wall and made the larger music room. . It was packed wall to wall with the throbbing drinking smoking puking shouting talking singing tapestry of the West Bank at the time. The sound and the smell was indelible. . The only spot in the entire joint, and it was still a true joint then, was the stool just at the end of the bar on the far side of the room, right in front of the tiny stage. I struggled my way to get there, jostling and excusing and poking, and there was a calliope of Actual Folk Blues Boogie oozing and clanking from the tiny stage, accompanying my every bumble and stumble. . I got to the stool, ordered a beer, most likely lit a camel light, swiveled around and after about 3 minutes everything else behind me disappeared. The demon thrashing and dancing solo at the upright piano, drinking directly from his pitcher of beer, assaulting the microphone with stealthy power had enthralled me completely. I later found out it was Willie Murphy. . It was a flat-out tour de force of musical history and a passionate fusion of musical traditions. It both honored all those traditions, but then set them on their ear at the same time. I loved that. I internalized that. It was The Real Thing. . Thank you Willie Murphy. Rest In Peace. No. Maybe Remain Restless In Peace. . 🖤 #fathomlane #williemurphy #legend #rip #minneapolis #minneapolismusic #minnesotamusic #inspiration #therealdeal #willieandthebees #tribute #hero

A post shared by Fathom Lane (@fathomlane) on

Rest in peace Willie Murphy.

Posted by Guvenc & Burk Orchestra on Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gonna listen to as much of the Willie Murphy canon as possible today. This is a great place to start, a really fun record!

Posted by Mic Tienken on Monday, January 14, 2019

Wow some sad news Coming out of Minnesota's Blues Seen this Morning…Mr West Bank himself has Passed Away..The White…

Posted by Spike Stephan on Sunday, January 13, 2019

RIP Willie Murphy. Damn, it's hard to imagine this town without you.

Posted by Dakota Dave Hull on Sunday, January 13, 2019