Lil’ Ed Williams

Guitar/Band Leader

Born in Chicago on April 8, 1955, Ed grew up surrounded by music. He was playing guitar, then drums and bass, by the time he was 12. Ed received lessons and support from his uncle, the great Chicago slide guitarist, songwriter and recording artist J.B. Hutto. “J.B. taught me everything I know,” says Ed. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.” In 1975 Ed and his younger half-brother, Pookie, started Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials and it was all uphill from there.

Signed early on by Bruce Iglauer to Alligator Records, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials released six Alligator albums between 1989 and 2008. With each one, the band’s stature grew as their fan base continued to expand. With 2006’s Rattleshake, Ed and company reached a whole new audience. Die-hard “Ed Head” Conan O’Brien brought the band before millions of television viewers on two separate occasions. Then, in June 2008, celebrating the release of Full Tilt, Ed hit the main stage at The Chicago Blues Festival, performing in front of 100,000 screaming fans, as he whipped the overflowing crowd into a blues-induced frenzy.

The band was nominated 5 times for the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band of The Year and won in both 2007 and 2009. They also took home the Living Blues Award for Best Live Performer in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Blues Revue said, “Listen and hear how a great blues player can make a guitar weep…Lil’ Ed is a blues master at the top of his game.”