Susan Whitall

Selected Works


"Deftly explores the mystery and tragedy of his life and death..." -- New Orleans Times-Picayune, "Best Music Books of 2011."

"(Four stars) Superb...a remarkable story that Whitall details with exceptional clarity." -- Mojo

"As fast paced, enchanting and gritty as Willie John's own life and his meteroic climb to the top of the music charts. -- Bill Castanier, Lansing City Pulse

"A well-written biography of one of the greatest R&B singers to come out of Detroit." -- New York Amsterdam News

"Finally justice is served and Little Willie John gets his story told. Arguably one of the genre's greatest voices, this no frills account of his fast and fantastic life will enlighten those who are not familiar and thrill those who are." -- Bernie Taupin, "American Roots Radio," Sirius XM

"Fever is a reminder that some of the last century’s most beautiful, heartfelt, and danceable music was produced in the context of struggles against poverty, state-supported violence, racial segregation, and commercial exploitation." - Los Angeles Review of Books

"A heartfelt, in-depth portrait of one of rhythm & blues' most tragically overlooked vocal stars. Susan Whitall once again reminds us why she is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable curators of Detroit music." -- Allan Slutsky, author of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."

Music biography
"Women of Motown digs beneath the veneer of the Motown publicity machine..."
--Scott Westerman,

“...Motown buffs will relish hearing a few more voices add to the lore: the rise and drawn-out demise of Mary Wells; on the road with Diana Ross; the sequined dresses; the rivalries, the romances; the summer 'Dancing in the Street' was banned in some cities for inciting riots.”
--Paige Smoron, The Chicago Sun-Times


Left to right, Keith John, Chuck Stokes, Susan Whitall and Kevin John, on Chuck Stokes' Sunday show on Detroit's WXYZ-TV, to discuss Little Willie John and "Fever."

Keith John (left), younger son of Little Willie John, and Susan Whitall in front of the mural in the lobby of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, that depicts Little Willie John and other greats.
Singer and Detroit native Bettye LaVette knew Little Willie John well and was a key source for "Fever." She is shown here with Robert Jr. Whitall, publisher of Big City Blues magazine.

Susan Whitall and Kevin John (lower left) with the other winners at the Michigan Notable Books ceremony, April 2012

"Fever" is available at The Book Beat in Oak Park,, and other fine retailers.


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