Living in Orangeburg I remember Willis Blume and I also remember Shagtime. I briefly had a music review column while working at the Orangeburg newspaper and I was charged with reviewing their release, “Always Wound.” Retrospect is a funny thing because thinking back I attempted to write about and explain something I really had no understanding of. My mistake was I thought Beach Music was suppose to be Soulful and the only true Soul I knew did not sound anything like this. My ignorance haunts me to this day. Beach Music is a music unto itself, vibrant, happy, a joy to listen to and appreciate and to top it off Beach Music was created here in South Carolina spawning the Shag dance which is the official dance of our great state.
So you see, Willis Blume and all the great local musicians who worked with him throughout his career were in a sense visionaries. The work they did to build up and refine Beach and Shag music should not be overlooked nor forgotten and I’m grateful to be able to put this page together to show them the respect they deserve. A very special thanks to Ed Langston for contributing materials and his knowledge to help me put this together – thank you Sir!
Bio written by Ervin Shaw and Linda Blume:
Willis Blume was born on December 8, 1944 in Columbia, SC, to Daisy Margaret (Jolly) Blume and Aaron Calhoun Blume, Sr. Willis spent most of his childhood in South Carolina in areas such as Augusta, Columbia, Sumter, and Bamberg. At the age of 10, while living in Bamberg, SC, he began playing the drums. Willis started his first beach music styled band, The DuPrees, while living in Sumter, SC and attending Edmunds High School As a group of high schoolers, Willis and his band experienced surprising success and popularity both at high school dances in the Sumter area as well as at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, setting the stage for a long and storied career in the music industry.
He graduated from Bamberg High School in 1963, demonstrating exceptional musical talent as a drummer in the school band. In the spring of 1963, Willis received high commendations at the South Carolina District Music Festival for a drum solo he composed and performed. His musical accomplishments in high school earned him a music scholarship to the University of South Carolina starting in the fall of 1963. During his freshman year in college, Willis met his wife, Linda Blanton, in Columbia, SC. They began dating shortly thereafter. Willis and Linda were married on February 28, 1965, and took up residence in Columbia, where they began to build both a family and a professional legacy.
Willis played drums in The Persians band to supplement his income, better provide for his family, and bring his love of performing on stage back into his life. For a few years the band played at a local tavern in Columbia, SC until Willis decided to form a new band, Charity, which had an expanded repertoire and audience. That band became so popular that Willis was able to give up his day job and pursue music as a full-time career. Unable to fulfill the high number of booking requests for his new band, Willis began recommending other bands to potential clients when his was not available. Soon he and Linda had developed lists of local bands and potential clients putting artists and venue owners together, and the Willis Blume Agency was created in 1972.
While building the agency with Linda, Willis continued to perfect the art of musical performance, forming The Shagstik Band in 1980 and in 1981 they released their first single “Shaggin’ in my Blood” dedicated to the Hall of Fame Shagger, Shad Alberty. In 1982 the band changed their name to Shagtime and the classic beach single “Mr. Beach” was released. 1983 saw Shagime nominated for Best Single of the Year and winning for Best New Artist of the Year at the Beach Music Awards Show in Myrtle Beach, SC. Their single “1984” brought Shagtime national recognition by winning them the Rate-A-Record segment on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show. Shagtime released their first self titled full album in 1985 and Headliners In Review Magazine nominated them for Album of the Year as well as Best Group of the Year and presented them with Entertainer of the Year. 1986 brought Shagtime international exposure and success in Scotland and England with the release of “Mr. Beach” and “I Could Be.” The band started work on their second album in 1987 with recording sessions taking place in the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio located in Alabama and Reflections Studio in Charlotte, NC. “Always Wound” was released in 1988 and is sited as the culmination of the bands finest efforts. London’s New Music Express Magazine featured the single
“I Could Be” in an article about Beach Music. The group was nominated by Beach Music Awards Association for Best Group of the Year.
While the highly successful band put hits on the beach music charts, the Willis Blume Agency grew to become the largest entertainment agency in South Carolina, representing more than 80 bands from a variety of genres including big band to jazz, retro soul to funk, beach music to pop variety. Retiring from the road, Willis put up the drumsticks in 1990, at the age of 45, to pursue his new passion, golf.
In 2001, at the age of 57, Willis received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame at the Sixth Annual Cammy Awards in Myrtle Beach, SC. Writing about Willis's lifetime achievement award in 2001 in The (Orangeburg) Times and Democrat, journalist Richard Walker wrote, "Now, with the induction into the Hall of Fame, generations to come will remember the man who rediscovered the joy of his youth and gave it away to anyone who sought the wholesome fun of a beach music melody."
Charlie Whyde - Vocals
Rick Strickland - Vocals
Ed Langston - Guitar, Vocals
David Sanders - Keyboards, Vocals
Duane Kitchings - Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
Phil Cooley - Tenor Saxophone
Bryson Borgstead - Tenor Saxophone
David Kitchings - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals
Ken Stewart - Trumpet
Paul Craver - Trombone, Trumpet, Vocals
Gordon Hussey - Trombone
Terry Blackwell - Bass
Tom Dalzell - Bass
Willis Blume - Drums
Willis Blume, Jr. - Technician