Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lowell George

April 13 would have been the 68th birthday for one of my favorite artists: Lowell George.  Lowell would be most noteworthy for his contribution to the band Little Feat.  Many influences truly made this band a unique blend of blues, rock and jazz with a "jam band" sensibility. His consummate musicianship over time made him the "musician's musician", lending his musical prowess as well as production skills to artists such as Robert Palmer on his solo album "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley"(1974).  Songs such as "Sailin' Shoes", "Willin", "Atlanta", and many others became live staples served up to packed houses coast to coast, evidenced in the much acclaimed " Waiting for Columbus". Bandmates Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Richie Hayward and Sam Clayton formed a genesis of the band that was to change personnel from time to time. Creative differences with Paul Barrere and Lowell's waning health caused the band to splinter around 1978.  During this time Lowell was working on his solo effort "Thanks I'll Eat It Here" which was a collection of all-star session musicians and a diverse selection of songs ranging from self-penned works to Allen Toussaint's "What do you want the girl to do" to Jimmie Webb's "Himmler's Ring". In 1979 while touring to support the solo work, Lowell collapsed in his Arlington Virginia hotel room, he was only 34.  The autopsy ruled cause of death heart attack, but it was widely held that Lowell's chronic weight problems coupled with drug use and the strain of touring were contributors.  Lowell is well remembered for writing memorable songs, a spirited well-crafted musical and production style, and an overall zest for life.  He has influenced new generations of artists with his infectious way of approaching songcraft and performance.  Check out this classic performance from the BBC'c "Old Grey Whistle Test" from 1975:  enjoy!