#933: Mr. Soul Satisfaction by Timmy Willis

Peak Month: February 1968
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #9
1 week Hitbound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Timmy Willis was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in further south in Columbus. His debut single was “Mr. Soul Satisfaction.” The song was written by George McGregor, a producer/arranger in Detroit. McGregor released his own single in 1967 called “Temptation Is Hard to Fight,” billed as George McGregor and the Bronzettes. Though McGregor’s song was not a hit, it was featured decades later on an episode of Mad Men. As for “Mr. Soul Satisfaction,” the song was released on UA/Veep records. “Mr. Soul Satisfaction” was not like the typical sound coming out of Detroit in 1967. The song resembled material that Otis Redding was putting out and had more of a Memphis/Stax sound. “Mr. Soul Satisfaction” got some attention in the R&B scene in the UK as it was also released there. Timmy Willis also had releases on Jubilee and Epic.

Not much was known about Timmy Willis when he released his debut single in 1967. At least not in Vancouver. And without a single making it into the Billboard Hot 100, he has remained a mystery.

Mr. Soul Satisfaction by Timmy Willis

Mr. Soul Satisfaction that’s my name, oh yeah.
Just a positive reaction, that’s my game.
What do you want? Satisfaction – got it!
What do you need? Satisfaction – got it!

Mr. Soul Satisfaction,
got to sell it for you baby.
Mr. Soul Satisfaction isn’t is a scream.
Gonna get a reaction, yes I can.

I can satisfy your soul ’til you are old.
I can rectify your sadness put it all in the past.
‘Cause I’m Mr. Soul Satisfaction
Got to tell the story.

Mr. Soul Satisfaction.
Mr. Soul Satisfaction.

Listen, you can move in satisfaction in your own twist
I can break daylight with my fist.
Ain’t a soul I can’t satisfy.
Ain’t a soul I can’t sin.
I’m so bad I should have been born twins.

Mr. Soul Satisfaction.
Mr. Soul Satisfaction.

Mr. Soul Satisfaction that’s my name, oh yeah.
Just a positive reaction, that’s my game.
What do you want? Satisfaction – got it!
What do you need? Satisfaction – got it!

Mr. Soul Satisfaction (fade)

In the song, “Mr. Soul Satisfaction,” we are treated to a description of a man and why he goes by that nickname.  “positive reactions” are his “game.” The lyric comes to a climax when he brags “I’m so bad I should have been born twins.” In 1967 “bad” was slang in African-American communities for “very good” or “excellent.” When he appears on the scene, walking into a room, a party, a club, a beach, Mr. Soul Satisfaction makes the sad people forget the blues. He is confident he can satisfy anyone he meets and “sin” with them. This is a guy who is “fun” to be with in and out of the bedroom. Wherever he goes he gets a reaction that seems to be jaw-dropping and heart-stopping. In 2017, we’d call someone like this “hot.”

“Mr. Soul Satisfaction” peaked at #9 on the Vancouver charts. Curiously, for the whole chart run on CKLG his first name was spelled “Timmi” instead of his correct spelling: Timmy. The song made it to #5 in Cleveland and into the Top 20 in Oshawa, Ontario. Willis had a follow up single in 1968 titled “Gotta Get Back to Georgia,” but it was a commercial failure. Another single released in 1969 with Jubilee Records, “I Finally Found A Woman,” reflected his thumping Memphis influenced Northern Soul featured in “Mr. Soul Satisfaction.” On the record his screams are akin to those of Wilson Pickett. The tune features the backing of Muscle Shoals musicians Eddie Hinton on guitar and Roger Hawkins on drums. The song climbed into the Top 20 in St. Louis but failed to chart elsewhere.

In 1970 Willis released a single with his soul ballad “Easy as Saying 1-2-3” and the B-side, his infectious “I’m A Man” (not the Bo Diddley or Yardbirds single) on Jubilee Records. While he got play listed in New York City, the single again disappointed. In 1971 Willis released the instrumental “Fever In Your Hot Pants” on Mo Soul Records under the artist name Suspicious Can Openers. In 1972 he released the single “Don’t Want To Set Me Free” backed with “Give Me A Little Sign” on the west coast label Epic. The latter was not a remake of the 1967 hit single by Brenton Wood. In both cases the singles failed to chart and Willis, it seems, left the recording business.

While there is a Facebook page for an African-American named Timmy Willis who has been a drummer for the past 50 years, I can’t verify that the drummer Timmy Willis is the same person who recorded five singles in the late 60’s and early 70’s. A search for any photos of Willis turned up nothing. If you know anything more about Timmy Willis, please contact me.

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