Sad to report the passing of Syracuse R&B great Deacon ("Little") Willie Gatewood on May 28, 2013 at age 75. Born in Auburn Alabama, he was first called "Little Wiilie Gatewood playing a Honky Tonk sound in 1949. I first caught Willie and his band "The Toronadoes" (1966-72) playing great R&B as the house band at the 800 Club back in 1966. He would go on performing in Syracuse at the Satellite Club, Debs, Dew Drop Inn, Little Brown Jug and English Inn to name just a few. In 1969, the band would released there first 45 rpm single "The Camel" (1969) on The Chart Record label (aired locally on WOLF Radio).
The Toronadoes continued recording releasing the single "Little Bitty Baby " b/w Gave Baby a Chance" on the U.S Dept. of Health label in 1973.
Toronadoes band members included- Willie Sims (drums), Chuck Phillips (guitar), Joe Cutcher (trumpet & vocals), A.C. Goldston (bass), L.C. Glover (tenor sax), John Tolbert (tenor sax), along with Willie Gatewood (alto sax). Later Mozelle Williams was added (tenor sax & keyboards). PS- Syracuse Music Hall of Fame great Dave Hanlon performed with Willie at the 800 Club at age 16.
Deacon Willie Gatewood resided in Nedrow, NY is survived by five children, a brother and 20 grandchildren. He was laid to rest in Onondaga Valley Cemetery. He was a true CNY music treasure.