Willie "Popsy" Dixon, drummer and vocalist of the critically acclaimed soul/blues band The Holmes Brothers, died in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 9. He had recently been diagnosed with stage four bladder cancer. He was 72 years old.
Dixon, born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on July 26, 1942, was celebrated for his soaring, soulful multi-octave vocals and his driving, in-the-pocket drumming, according to a press release from Chicago-based label Alligator Records.
He first met brothers Sherman and Wendell Holmes at a New York gig in 1967. Dixon sat in with the brothers and sang two songs. "After that second song," recalled Wendell, "Popsy was a brother."
They played in a variety of Top 40 bar bands until 1979, when the three officially joined forces and formed The Holmes Brothers, which The New York Times described as "deeply soulful, uplifting and timeless." They toured the world, releasing 12 albums starting with 1990's In The Spirit on Rounder.
Their most recent release is 2014's "Brotherhood" on Alligator.
In September 2014, The Holmes Brothers were honored with a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States bestows upon its folk and traditional artists.
Dixon is survived by daughter Desiree Berry and longtime partner Isobel Prideaux.
Funeral service information is pending. Interment will be at the Holmes' family plot in Saluda, Virginia.