Little Willie John and Dizzy Jones at The Birdland Fiesta in The Mary Elizabeth Hotel

©MiamiTimes via Miami Dade Library Collection

Even today in 2018, Tree Top is still doing his thing, which is performing live with his guitar. Check out this newspaper advertisement from a 1963 issue of the Miami Times newspaper. Little Willie John is the singer most famous for his rendition of the song “Fever,” and also the first artist to record it. He was from Detroit, but at times he lived in Miami and was a local celebrity in Overtown. He and Dizzy Jones, a saxophone player and singer that James Brown thought was great, used to battle it out every week for a stretch at the Mary Elizabeth Hotel’s Fiesta Birdland room. Butterball from WMBM was the host, and there were two shows nitely. Larosa Phillips hosted the amateur show, there were three prizes up for grabs, and the Five Continentals performed too. There was a weekly Ladies Night, and every Sunday, a Teenage Matinee for just 50 cents. Back in 1963, a night out on the town cost just $1.50 admission.

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