Photo taken at the Sunset Cabaret in Victoria with the Legendary Powder Blues Band during the early 1980's. Photographer unknown. Photo restoration credit Bruce Morgan.
Founding member of Powder Blues, Willie MacCalder was born in Victoria and raised in Edmonton where he developed his craft by playing in a number of teen bands, until, in the mid sixties, he found great success with his own band, Willie and the Walkers . They signed with Capitol Records and enjoyed a number of pop hits on rock radio, touring extensively through out the U.S. and Canada. During the early 1970's he played with Teen Angel and the Rockin' Rebels and by the mid seventies, Willie met guitarist Tom Lavin in Vancouver where they discovered their mutual love of the blues. MacCalder's trademark piano stylings have won him a number of music poll awards and contribute greatly to the Powder Blues instantly identifiable sound. MacCalder released a solo album entitled 'Broken Down Piano' on Jay-El Records.
April 23, 2023
It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness I share the news that William Neil (Willie) MacCalder, age 76, b. February 9, 1947, Victoria, BC, has left the building. He was loved by many and will be missed by all.
A lifelong musician, piano player, vocalist, and songwriter, he was nationally recognized for his roles with Willie and the Walkers, the Seeds of Time, Teen Angel, as a founding member (1978) of Tom Lavin & the Legendary Powder Blues, and was literally at my right hand on stage for over 25 years. I looked up to him musically and learned so many valuable musical lessons simply by listening to him nightly. He was also noted for his recording session work backing many artists including Jim Byrnes, Billy Cowsill, Long John Baldry, Ferron and Lowell Fulson.
In more recent years, Willie enjoyed being a regular performer on cruise ships the world over. When not at sea he was sought after for solo, guest, and group performances. In 2018 he was inducted into the Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame for his significant contributions to the blues community. For the last number of years Willie resided in the ‘Long John Baldry’ memorial suite at the Performers Arts Lodge (PAL) in Coal Harbour, Vancouver BC.
November 1, 2021, after being five years in production, his final recording, a solo CD, ‘Willie MacCalder – Resolution’’, was released. Produced by his band mates, bassist Pat Braden and drummer Norm Glowach of Yellowknife, NWT, it features Willie’s distinctive piano and vocals, performing original tunes and chestnuts in a small group setting and is considered his magnum opus.
Willie was, to me, a gentle man and a gentleman who I will always miss. He is predeceased by his brother Jack and survived by his sisters, Linda MacCalder Balsillie and Faye MacCalder Strong.