The Sweet – Little Willy

Most of the Sweet’s singles sounded like different bands were on each one. They changed their styles quite a bit. Little Willy was their most successful single and it peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #4 in the UK.

This song is a catchy pop song and they would soon move to Ballroom Blitz, Fox On The Run, and Love is Like Oxygen.

From Songfacts

This song was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman – neither of whom were members of Sweet. Instead, Chinn and Chapman were a major force in the British pop music industry in the 1970s. Just as in the US, Leiber and Stoller became known for “the Brill Building sound,” Chinn and Chapman in the UK became known as the “Chinnichap” sound. They produced songs for Suzi Quatro, and British bands Smokie, Mud, Racey, and The Arrows. Chapman would later produce albums for Blondie and The Knack, and along with Holly Knight, wrote Pat Benatar’s hit “Love Is A Battlefield.”

“Little Willy” was Sweet’s biggest US hit, peaking the charts at #3 when it was re-released in 1973. It was a non-album single, but went gold in the US and UK all by itself anyway. Critics in the UK dismissed the song as “bubblegum” and referred to the lyrics as “nursery porn.” Sweet wanted to shed their bubblegum/ glam-rock image and become more hardcore, so they later turned to writing their own songs.

Putting this song together, Chinn and Chapman used a pounding drum beat popularized by Slade and producer Mike Leander. They mixed in the riff from the Who song “I Can’t Explain,” and added the exceptionally catchy chorus, which dug into your ear and wouldn’t let go. The song didn’t tell any kind of story – just that Willy won’t go home – but listeners didn’t care and with Glam Rock, the lyrics weren’t supposed to make sense anyway.

Little Willy

North side , east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he’s the king around town
Dancing, glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shoe shimmy shuffle down

Way past one, and feeling allright
‘Cause with little Willy round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down down
‘Cause little Willy, Willy won’t go home

But you can’t push Willy round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
Up town, down town

Little Willy, Willy drives them wild with his run-around style
Inside, outside
Willy sends them silly with his star-shine shimmy shuffle smile
Mama done chase Willy down through the hall

But laugh, Willy laugh, he don’t care at all
Hey down, stay down, stay down, down
‘Cause little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy round

Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t

Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t
Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t

Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy round

Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy round

Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

18 thoughts on “The Sweet – Little Willy”

    1. I figured it was… not as much over here but yea…
      That is a cool guitar…bending it like that. I’ve never seen that.

      Like

  1. It’s so true about how The Sweet seemed to change its sound with every single. It was impossible to not sing along to ‘Little Willy’. That was a really fun one. It’s funny now, reading that the song really wasn’t about anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this one sounded like “ballroom Blitz” a little but in general, for sure they changed sounds a good deal. Wouldn’t have guessed this was a bigger hit than “Ballroom Blitz” or “Fox on the Run” over here though – funny how some hits just fall aside and other, lesser-selling ones go on to become radio staples

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love is like Oxygen is also quite different from either of these. There started as a bubblegum band and this one was at the point where they were changing to more rock. I always liked their sound…quite catchy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Max, you are absolutely correct. I’m going to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow night downtown at a fun place, maybe I can ignite some of that youthfulness 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have no problem with music that’s ‘pop’…nothing wrong with light, feel-good tunes…Go-gos, Abba, Bangles, even a lot of the Beatles- just too much brainless crap in that genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this band, love the bubblegum sound. Alexander Graham Bell is also a great song, along with Funny, Funny and Wig Wam Bam. Little Willy made me buy their greatest hits.

    Liked by 1 person

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