Cedar Rapids native, turned Florida resident, Sid Wingfield, had a good reason why he wasn’t able to make the IBHOF Induction Ceremony on January 20th, 2002. He had a gig. The 57-year-old is world renowned for his Boogie-Woogie piano solos and mood-inducing organ playing.
Initially, bouncing chords played second fiddle to bouncing a basketball. After high school, Wingfield attended the Univeristy of North Dakota on a basketball scholarship. He and teammate Phil Jackson pounded the courts coached by Bill Fitch and Jimmy Rogers. (Jackson went on to earn a championship ring playing with the New York Knicks, six rings as head coach of the Chicago Bulls, and is currently the head coach of the world champion L.A. Lakers.)
Returning home after college, Wingfield picked up with Tony Brown, now known for his Reggae music. Together, they formed Preferred Stock, which toured from 1966 to 1972, when the band broke up just after MGM had signed them to a recording contract.
Not surprisingly, Wingfield left music behind for a while and went to work loading boxcars. But when he met Luther Allison in 1976, his tune changed again. Wingfield credits Allison with teaching him more about the Blues than he could have ever hoped to know. Touring in Europe with Allison brought Wingfield in contact with Muddy Waters and Taj Mahal. His associations have also led to jamming with both Albert and B.B. King, as well as Albert Collins.
After appearing on two recordings of Allison’s, Wingfield took a little time off, but the Blues just kept coming back for him. In 1983, he started playing with Big Twist & the Mellow Fellows (Alligator Records). And that’s when things started really happening. In 1991, Wingfield was featured on Son Seals’ Living in the Danger Zone. In 1993, he appeared on Crossing Bridges with The Kinsey Report. Doing solo gigs at the Chicago Blues Festival was a great honor, and now with The Matthew Skoller Band and Little Al Thomas, there is a lot more for him to yet accomplish, including his own solo recording.
– Sarah Hankel
As published in the Des Moines CityView · 1/16/2002
www.dmcityview.com – reprinted with permission
FEATURE PHOTO BY JEFF SCHMATT – RUBICON PHOTO
Sidney James Wingfield was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 23rd, 1944. He attended Jefferson High School there, before being accepted at the University of North Dakota on a basketball scholarship. The team finished both 3rd and 4th nationally during his time there. Sid’s head coach was Bill Fitch, who went on to coach the Boston Celtics to world championships. One of the assistant coaches was Jimmy Rogers, who followed Fitch to the Celtics. One of Sidney’s teammates was Phil Jackson, who went on to play for the NBA’s New York Knicks, and became the head coach of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, winning _ championships. Jackson is now the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning the championship in 2001.
A piano and organ player, Wingfield returned to Cedar Rapids after his college days, eventually helping form the R&B band, Preferred Stock, in 1966. The band also included Tony Brown, who has since become a world-respected Reggae artist. Preferred Stock was one of the most popular Blues-based bands in Iowa. They had secured a recording contract with MGM, but an album was never released before the band split up in 1972.
Sid retired from the music business for awhile, loading boxcars for a living in the Madison, Wisconsin area. Something well suited to him, being 6’6″ and 325 lbs. at the time.
Then he met Luther Allison, who took Sid under his wing in ‘76, teaching him much more about the Blues. Wingfield credits Luther for imparting the necessary knowledge to enable him to come into his own as a Bluesman. He traveled to Europe with Allison, doing 36 gigs in 31 days during Sid’s first tour there. While in France with Allison, Wingfield had a chance to hole up for about three days at the house of the owner of the Black & Blue record label. At the house was a huge collection of Blues recordings of every kind. Sid listened intently to dozens of classic Blues piano sides, absorbing all he could. Sid appears on two albums of Allison’s, both recorded in France – Love Me Papa from ‘77, and 1979’s Live In Paris. Also while in France, a highlight of Sid’s life occurred – meeting and hanging out with Muddy Waters and Taj Mahal in Muddy’s backstage dressing room. Muddy invited Sid to sit in with him during his set. Other musical highlights in his life include jamming with the likes of Albert King, Albert Collins, and B.B. King.
Wingfield was with Luther until September of 1980, when he retired again for awhile, making some cash on the side by renting out his keyboards to other bands. In 1983, he met guitarist, Pete Special, who recruited Sidney into his band, Big Twist & the Mellow Fellows, who already had a couple albums out by then. They got signed to Alligator Records, releasing Playing For Keeps that same year, and Live From Chicago! Bigger Than Life!, recorded in ‘87 at Biddy Mulligan’s.
This helped lead to recording dates with Son Seals on his 1991 Alligator release, Living In The Danger Zone, and with The Kinsey Report on their 1993 album, Crossing Bridges.
He has since developed a solo piano act, inspired by Mr. B, from Lansing, Michigan, who was into great barrelhouse piano players like Little Brother Montgomery and Sunnyland Slim. Wingfield has performed solo at a couple of the prestigious Chicago Blues Festivals.
In 1996, Wingfield played on the debut disc of The Matthew Skoller Band – Bone To Pick With You. Skoller is a talented harp player, who has played on albums by Koko Taylor, John Primer, Bernard Allison, Larry Garner, Big Daddy Kinsey, and Harvey Mandel. Whenever Skoller tours Europe, Wingfield is with him doing the keyboards. The band played to a packed house at Buddy Guy’s Legends club for the CD release party of their Shoulder To The Wind album.
One day, guitarist John Edelmann caught Sidney’s solo act at James Cotton’s club in Chicago. Edelmann began to sit in with Sid, which led to Wingfield joining John’s Crazy House Band, which backs singer, Little Al Thomas, on his 1999 Cannonball Records album, South Side Story.
The very amiable Mr. Wingfield now calls Sarasota, Florida his home. He is hoping to release an album that he has recorded of his solo piano work.
– Don Erickson