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Willie Dixon's funeral is a procession of jazz


CHICAGO -- A horse-drawn funeral carriage followed by hundreds of fans and dozens of musicians carried the body of Willie Dixon through the South Side streets of Chicago yesterday to the sounds of music the blues great made famous.

Bands stood on corners along a route down Muddy Waters Drive and past the Checker Board Lounge where Dixon was a fixture for years.

In a bluesy, jazzy send-off, the bands began playing "Wang Dang Doodle" and other Dixon standards as the cortege approached on its way from a funeral home to a church. The sidewalk bands fell in behind the glass-sided hearse drawn by a single horse.

Some in the procession swayed with open umbrellas, New Orleans style.

Members of Dixon's family followed in two other horse-drawn carriages.

Dixon, who died one week ago in Burbank, Calif., at the age of 76, was an architect of the Chicago style of blues, a music that helped make rock 'n' roll what it is. Mississippi born, he followed the path of many blues masters north to Chicago in 1936 and made his first record in 1940.

His songs became standards. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and the Doors each recorded his "Little Red Rooster." His bass playing backed Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.

Burial was to take place later in the day at a cemetery just south of Chicago.

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