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POP EYE

January 25, 1987|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

AND NOW HERE'S THE NEWS: Stevie Ray Vaughan's new single, "Willie the Wimp," sounds like a typical R&B tall tale about a crazy character named Willie the Wimp who "went to Heaven in a Cadillac coffin." Of course, truth is stranger than fiction. The song is actually based on a pair of legendary Chicago drug kingpins, a father-and-son act known as Flukey Stokes and Willy the Wimp (both now deceased). Willie was best-known for being photographed at his 1984 funeral sitting up and holding the steering wheel of a coffin shaped like a Cadillac Seville. (The post-burial party for the deceased--who also had $100 bills slipped between his fingers like cigarettes--was held at the same motel where he was murdered.) . . . If you're fascinated by local pop history, watch for the new issue of Music Connection, due out later this week. It features a round of lively reminiscences by veteran L.A. club owners Doug Weston (the Troubadour), Ben Gazzarri (Gazzarri's), Esther and George Wong (Madame Wong's West) and Kurt Fisher (Club Lingerie). The informal chat features plenty of anecdotes (and a few tall tales). They include accounts of how Weston was busted for letting Lenny Bruce perform at the Troubadour; how Gazzarri first booked Johnny Rivers at his family's Italian restaurant, and how ex-Starwood owner Ed Nash used to lure away Esther Wong's Polynesian dance girls for his own club.

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