Dion Payton was one of the underground legends of Chicago blues. His acidic, rocking blues guitar and dry vocals made him a huge local draw at clubs like Kingston Mines during the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The Greenwood, Mississippi native gained recording experience on Chess Records with gospel groups like the Violinaires before going on the road with Millie Jackson, Albert King and O.V. Wright. Dion first caught the attention of Alligator while playing rhythm guitar and co-arranging Lonnie Brooks’ 1983 album, Hot Shot. After leaving Lonnie, Dion assembled the 43rd Street Blues Band in January of 1985, and they served as weekend house band for Kingston Mines for many years, earning a legion of fans. He was tapped for The New Bluebloods recording, which introduced ten younger generation Chicago blues artists. Dion’s original composition on that album, “All Your Affection Is Gone,” became a well-known tune on local bandstands and was eventually covered by Michael Burks on his I Smell Smoke CD. Unfortunately, Dion had no other available commercial recordings, and the power of his music is only known to the fans that caught one of his rare live appearances.
After many years off the blues scene, Dion Payton passed away on March 12, 2021.