Viola Wills

Viola Wills

Real Name:
Viola Mae Wilkerson
Profile:
December 30, 1939—May 6, 2009

Viola passed away from leukemia, May 6th, 2009 8:27am Pacific Time.
A pre-stardom Barry White began using singer Viola Wills as a session vocalist on sides that he produced for Bob Keane's Bronco/Mustang labels. In the mid-'60s, Keane -- known for hits by Ritchie Valens, the Bobby Fuller Four, and Johnny Crawford of ABC-TV's hit western The Rifleman -- wanted to expand into soul music. In 1965, A&R director White signed Wills to Bronco as a solo artist. She recorded several sides for the label; all failed to chart. In 1969, she recorded a single for the A Bem Soul label that also failed to hit. In 1974, she replaced backup vocalist Claudia Linnear on Joe Cocker's European tour. While in the U.K., Wills recorded for Goodear. Three years later, she signed with Arista Records. In 1979, while signed to the Hansa UK label, Wills enjoyed her biggest hit with a disco version of Patience and Prudence's 1957 hit "Gonna Get Along Without You." Recording in an up-tempo dance Hi-NRG style, Wills scored dancefloor hits with "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Up on the Roof", all produced by Jerry McCabe and co-produced by Nick Straker. Wills had a Top 40 U.K. hit with the double-sided hit "Both Sides Now" and "Dare to Dream" on the Wide Angle label.

One of her Bronco singles played an integral part in a number one R&B smash. In the mid-'70s, while working on material for the next Love Unlimited album, group member Glodean James suggested to producer Barry White that he use the piano introduction from Wills' "Lost Without the Love of My Guy" on a new song. At first resistant to the idea because he didn't want to repeat himself, White relented. He reused the piano chord progression from "Lost Without the Love of My Guy" on "I Belong to You." The majestic ballad went to number one R&B in late 1974. It was included on the album In Heat and on Best of Love Unlimited.

Though Wills hasn't had a mainstream U.S. hit to date, her singles are popular in dance clubs and a number of her recordings are floating around, including "No News Is News," "House Is Not a Home," "If You Could Read My Mind," "Let's Love Now," "Take One Step Forward" (by Wills and Noel McCalla), and "Always Something There to Remind Me."
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Viola Wills Discography

Albums

EARLH 5002 Viola Wills Soft Centers (Album) Goodear Records EARLH 5002 UK 1974 Sell This Version
OL 1507 Viola Wills If You Could Read My Mind (Album, Comp) Hansa International OL 1507 US 1980 Sell This Version
RVA 1001 LP Viola Wills Ashmun* Space (Album) RVA Records RVA 1001 LP US 1983 Sell This Version
TTW 8698 Viola Wills Dare To Dream (Album) Wide Angle TTW 8698 US 1986 Sell This Version
SPLK-7205 Viola Wills Gonna Get Along Without You (Album) Unidisc SPLK-7205 Canada 1994 Sell This Version
CDKOPY165 Viola Wills The Essential Viola Wills(CD, Album + CD, Enh, Mixed) Klone Records CDKOPY165 UK 2006 Sell This Version
none Viola Wills Stormy Weather(13xFile, AAC, Album, 256) Spite (3) none Europe 2013

Singles & EPs

2051 Viola Wills I Got Love / Lost Without The Love Of My Guy Bronco Records (3) 2051 US 1966 Sell This Version
2053 Viola Wills Don't Kiss Me Hello And Mean Goodbye / Together Forever Bronco Records (3) 2053 US 1967 Sell This Version
PT 154 Viola Wills You're Out Of My Mind(7") President Records PT 154 UK 1967 Sell This Version
SUP 0002 Viola Wills I've Got News For You / Sweetback Supreme (13) SUP 0002 US 1969 Sell This Version
EAR. 103 Viola Wills Run To The Nearest Exit (Single) Goodear Records EAR. 103 UK 1974 Sell This Version
EAR 609 Viola Wills Day In The Life Of A Woman / Some Other Day(7", Single) Goodear Records EAR 609 UK 1974 Sell This Version
EARS 1602 Viola Wills I Believe In Miracles / Set Me Free (Single) Goodear Records, Bellaphon EARS 1602 US 1975 Sell This Version
ARISTA 151 Viola Wills Let's Love Now (Single) Arista ARISTA 151 UK 1977 Sell This Version
AHAD 546 Viola Wills Gonna Get Along Without You Now (Single, Maxi) Ariola Hansa AHAD 546 UK 1979 Sell This Version
DBR 15016 Viola Wills / Alma Faye Viola Wills / Alma Faye - (Gonna Get Along) Without You Now / It's Over(12", Promo) Derby DBR 15016 Italy 1979 Sell This Version
AE 140 Viola Wills Gonna Get Along Without You Now(7", Single) Ariola AE 140 France & Benelux 1979 Sell This Version
YD 549 Viola Wills / Bob McGilpin Viola Wills / Bob McGilpin - (Gonna Get Along) Without You Now / Sexy Thing(7", Jukebox) Derby YD 549 Italy 1979 Sell This Version
AHA 564 Viola Wills Up On The Roof (Single) Hansa International, Hansa International AHA 564 UK 1980 Sell This Version
AHA 557 Viola Wills If You Could Read My Mind (Single, Maxi) Hansa International, Hansa International AHA 557 Jamaica 1980 Sell This Version
CYS 1062 Viola Wills Love Letters(7") Charly Records CYS 1062 UK 1980 Sell This Version
102 981 Viola Wills There's Always Something There To Remind Me / Don't Ever Stop Loving Me (Single) Hansa International 102 981 Germany 1981 Sell This Version
103.628 Viola Wills I Can't Stay Away From You / If You Leave Me Now (Single, Maxi) Hansa International, Hansa International 103.628 Netherlands 1981 Sell This Version
SNG-0001 Viola Wills Stormy Weather (Single, Maxi) Sunergy SNG-0001 US 1982 Sell This Version