Willy and the Poor Boys is the fourth album by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and was released in January 1969 on Fantasy Records
Like most of the band’s albums, Willy and the Poor Boys can be seen as a semi-concept album. This one was a tribute to the South, featuring two traditional standards popularized by Leadbelly (‘Cottonfields’ and ‘Midnight Special’) and as well as two instrumentals (‘Poorboy Shuffle’ and ‘Side O’ The Road’) that made you swear CCR were from New Orleans rather than Oakland, California
The cover of the record shows the members of Creedence playing on a street corner as a jug band. This is the band referred to in the hit single ‘Down on the Corner’ (the only mention of the album’s title is in the song’s chorus). CCR ‘become’ Willy and the Poor Boys in a way similar to The Beatles becoming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Taking a relatively literal view of their music, photographer Basul Parik loaded the band members into a car with ‘traditional’ instruments, and drove them over to the intersection of Peralta and Hollis streets in Oakland, California
The supposedly candid shot was taken out the front of the Duck Kee Market, owned by Ruby Lee. The children just happened to be there and Parik included them in his shot - still the smallest audience Creedence ever played to!
The cover led directly to the instrumental track ‘Poorboy Shuffle’, on which the group play the instruments they brandish on the cover (no mean feat as some, particularly the washtub bass, are note easy to play). While they were doing the cover shoot fooling around with their instruments they came up with the song, walked two blocks back to the studio and put it on tape
The back cover continues the theme, and is even more exuberant, with one of the children dancing joyously as the band play on, walking away from the market