Arthur "Butch" Dixon
Black Hat Design
Thu Sep 9 10:58:32 EDT 2004
Son of blues legend dies in accident
By Jon Yates and Kathryn Masterson
Tribune staff reporters
September 8, 2004
Chicago rapper Twista was injured and his bodyguard, Arthur "Butch" Dixon,
was killed when their van flipped over on a Pennsylvania interstate early
Monday as the two headed home after a canceled concert.
Twista, whose real name is Carl Mitchell, suffered a bruised rib, cuts, and
two black eyes in the crash, said his manager, who goes by the name Rawle.
Dixon, 45, son of the late blues legend Willie Dixon, was alive at the scene
but died after he was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, Erie County
District Attorney Brad Foulk said. Five others in the van sustained
non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
"It's a miracle anybody survived," said Foulk, who arrived at the scene
later Monday morning. "The top of the vehicle they were in was completely
sheered off ... it rolled four, possibly five times."
Twista, 30, who grew up in Chicago, had a No. 1 hit earlier this year with
his song "Slow Jamz." His album, "Kamikaze," released in January, has sold
more than 1 million copies.
Dixon, an accomplished pianist who just months ago played with Chuck Berry
at a Chicago concert, had served in recent years as a bodyguard for both
Twista and R. Kelly, relatives said.
"He loved music," said blues singer Koko Taylor, who had known Dixon since
he was a baby. "That's the reason he was in the [van]."
Police said the accident occurred around 4 a.m. Monday on Interstate Highway
90 about 5 miles west of the Ohio line. Band members were driving home after
their show in Albany, N.Y., was canceled so fellow rapper LL Cool J could be
with his wife, who had surgery last week, according to the Web site for
Investigators on Tuesday were still trying to determine what caused the
single-vehicle accident. All six passengers were ejected onto a grassy
median in the middle of the interstate, Foulk said. Only the van's driver,
Twista's cousin Otis Bankhead, was wearing a seat belt when the accident
occurred, he said.
Rawle said Twista was "banged up pretty bad" in the accident but was more
hurt emotionally by the death of Dixon.
Dixon's mother, Marie, said her son grew up on Chicago's South Side
surrounded by blues legends. Taylor was a neighbor to the Dixon family home
in the 7600 block of South Throop Street, and members of his father's band,
the Chicago Blues All Stars, were constantly nearby.
Although named after one of Willie Dixon's brothers, Arthur Dixon was known
by friends and family as "Butch" or, in some cases, "Big Butch"--a nickname
given by saxophonist Harold Ashby.
"He was a happy-go-lucky kid," Taylor said. "He was always wanting to kid
Marie Dixon said her son dreamed of being a football player, but her husband
insisted all his children learn an instrument. Butch Dixon chose piano and
was trained by pianist Lafayette Leake, then a member of Willie Dixon's
When he was old enough, Butch Dixon began touring with his father, hitting
blues clubs throughout North America and Europe. He continued until 1990,
when his father semi-retired from the business, Marie Dixon said.
"He enjoyed it," she said. "Once he traveled with his father and learned
different cities and states that they went to, he seriously enjoyed being
out there and playing the piano."
Billy Branch, who played the harmonica with Willie Dixon's band when Butch
Dixon was just starting out, said he used to call Butch "Baby Boogie."
"I was `the Boogie Man.´ He was kind of patterning himself after me," Branch
said. "He said `you´ll be "the Boogie Man," I´ll be "Baby Boogie."´ He had
gotten to be quite a piano player."
Marie Dixon said her son worked briefly as a Cook County sheriff's deputy
after Willie Dixon died in 1992. In the years since, Butch Dixon had
continued playing the piano and occasionally the drums. As recently as June,
he played with Berry at an Academy of Achievement Conference at the Field
Museum, friends said.
In recent years, Dixon spent the bulk of his time helping his family's
non-profit organization, the Blues Heaven Foundation, and working as a
bodyguard for Twista and other artists.
Rawle said Dixon started working with Twista after the two talked earlier
this year at a voter registration event in Chicago.
"He knew how to handle business and at the same time he was courteous, not
just a bodyguard with a lot of muscle," Rawle said of Dixon. "In my eyes,
security work was just a side thing to him, but he took it seriously."
Barry Dolins, coordinator of the Chicago Blues Festival, said he had seen
Butch Dixon Thursday during a chance meeting in the Loop. He said he had
tried to call him later but Dixon was already out of town.
"It's just an untimely death," Dolins said. "I think he had a lot of great
ideas and plans still ahead of him."
Marie Dixon said her son was married and had three children. Funeral
arrangements were pending.
Copyright (c) 2004, Chicago Tribune
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