Wayne Willems started playing guitar with his grandfather and his dad in the kitchen at his grandfather's house. He started playing rhythem and gradually worked his way into playing lead. His grandfather played lead and Wayne learned by listening to him play. When Wayne got older, he and his two younger brothers started playing in a band together with their father, who let Wayne play lead as he played rhythem. The Willems Band, as they were called, made a circuit at vfws and any private club that would allow the youngsters to play. Wayne was fifteen when they started, his middle brother Dave was thirteen, and the youngest was Rich at eleven.
By the time the three brothers reached high school, Wayne was active in jazz band, with Dave playing bass. Rich was in the band playing drums. Before band class would begin in the morning, the three would set up and play all their favorite songs they had learned off the radio, like Black Sabath, Kiss, Ratt, Def Leppard, Rush, and many, many more. They began getting a huge following from school and soon were playing for prom, talent shows, half time, and at a teen hangout called the Underground, an old garage off a main road in Little Rock. The young group not only did cover tunes, but their original songlist was growing as well. Once out of school, the three boys had bands and other projects. Dave and Wayne headed a band with Lucky on drims called Mathias, which was a death metal band that lasted long enough for them to write about ten original songs and record them before splitting up. Rich had a band called SKF, where he was the lead singer and songwriter. It ended abruptly when the guitarist, a long time friend, ended his own life. That was when the three brothers got back together. Wayne, Rich, and Dave started a band with another friend or their's names Gagne. He was the rhythem backup behind Wayne. They were called Sedreth.
Sedreth was the band for the time. Their music was a split between country rock and hard core rock'n'roll. They became reconized when they started playing the club scene in Little Rock, Memphis, and Shreveport. But as all good things come to an end, so did Sedreth. After many trips to the recording studio, and many hours of recording, they ended up with an album of twelve songs. Gagne called it quits when his song that the band had been working on didn't make it on tape. So the three brothers were on their own, and they set out to do their own thing. Dave and Rich joined up with a country guitarist, named Chuck, doing a local circuit around town and about. Wayne headed up his own rock'n'roll group, and started his own country band on the side as well. Things were going pretty smooth until Wayne quit his rock'n'roll band because he didn't agree with the bass player's attitude. Then he heard that Chuck, the guitarist his brothers were playing for, had been killed in an auto accident, which lead him to asking Dave if he would play bass with him in a new rock'n'roll band. Dave agreed to, which left Rich out, who thought it was a good time to quit anyway. So Wayne and Dave started a new band with a guy that had played drums with them on and off for the last twelve years named Howdy. It started out with Joe, the lead singer of Wayne's former band, as the lead singer of this band. But as time would tell, Joe didn't fit in with the rest of the group. So the band became known as the best damn three piece in Little Rock called MUDD.
With Dave and Wayne both singing lead and backup together, and the songs they knew between them, they could play anything, anytime, anywhere. Pop, rock, country, blues, which Wayne had a friend, Mark Simpson, who played slide guitar with them when they played blues or country, they went everywhere and played it all. Every weekend was a gig somewhere. One night would be an all out country night, with Mark Simpson or their cousin Rick in tow. The next night it was rock'n'roll at Nitelife or at Joe's Big Bamboo. Sunday's were spent at BJ's Honkytonk. One weekend was a biker wedding at a Harley chopper shop in the country, the next was the Knights of Columbus Forth of July party. And every year at the Riverfest in Little Rock for the past ten years, the band played with Gary McAlister on the river in front of one hundred thousand people. That was one hell of a crowd to please, playing alongside great names like 38 Special, Cheap Trick, and The Doobie Brothers.
Wayne Willems has come a long way from then until now. He left his home in Little Rock to come to Austin, Texas, where he lives now, with hopes in finding another great band like the one he left behind. He has a lot of talent and great expectations in finding the right band and the right path in which to travel.
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Last modified on Wednesday, January 13, 1999