In the 1980’s, before Miami’s South Beach was the chic hot spot it is today, it was a collection of decrepit vacant hotels populated by drug dealers and prostitutes. It was also the place where old people from the northeast went to spend their last years. But then something happened. Ronnie Wood, guitarist from the Rolling Stones, purchased an old hotel and opened a nightclub called Woody’s on the Beach. It was the coolest place on Miami Beach at the time and it was a music-lover’s dream come true. Ronnie would invite music greats to come and perform in this intimate setting and would often join them on stage. It was my favorite place to go and hang out.
I have some really cool ticket stubs from shows at Woody’s, but this one is worthy to be my first Woody’s post. When I heard that blues legend Willie Dixon would be playing at Woody’s along with Ron Wood and saxophonist Bobby Keys (he played sax with the Stones, the Beatles, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, just to name a few), I had to shake myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I immediately ran out and bought a ticket for a whopping $10.
The show started with the house band, featuring Ronnie and Bobby. After a little while, they called the man to the stage. Willie Dixon came out, walking slowly, age and hard living clearly having taken a toll, but the energy that surged through the small club was palpable. He sang five songs with the band before he retired. The band continued for a while without him. I maintained hope that he would come back out, but no luck. Still, I got to see Willie Dixon! The man who inspired so many of rock’s elite.
Dixon died of heart failure on January 29, 1992. But his songs live on, because great music is eternal.