Born October 26, 1951 in Toronto, William Patrick Bennett began his musical career as a choir boy in his Junior High. Willie developed a gift to write and perform songs; the release of his first recorded single, ‘White Line’, which became a hit in Canada in 1969, proved it to the masses.
In 1972, he put together the Bone China Band, sharing Bennett’s new grass style of music. In 1975, at the insistence of his pal and fellow musician David Essig, Willie recorded his first solo album, ‘Tryin’ To Start Out Clean’.
Willie continued to follow his solo ambitions and released, ‘Hobo’s Taunt’ in 1977, and a third album, ‘Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’, in 1978. With waning public interest in folk music in the ’80s, Willie released just a single that decade, 1989’s ‘The Lucky Ones’.
Bennett’s collaboration with Russell deCarle resulted in the Prairie Oyster hit single ‘Goodbye, So Long, Hello’, named the 1990 CCMA ‘Song of the Year’. In 1999, Prairie Oyster contributed to Willie P’s first album project in nine years. ‘Heartstrings’ won the Juno Award for ‘Best Roots and Traditional Album’ in 1999.
As a songwriter, Willie P. Bennett’s song, ‘White Line’ has been recorded by U.S. artists, Jonathon Edwards, John Starling and pure Prairie League, while Canadian artists, Colleen Peterson, Prairie Oyster, Sneezy Waters, Denis Lepage, Whiskey Jack, Garnet Rogers, and Blackie & The Rodeo Kings have all covered his songs.
Willie’s gifts to Canada’s folk scene were put in the spotlight in 1996 when Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden and Tom Wilson formed, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, a group named after Bennett’s 1978 album.
Willie P. Bennett will forever be remembered for his contributions to Canadian music.
Willie P. Bennet passed away on February 15, 2008 at the age of 57.