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Mon, Jul 22, 2024

Little Feat

Shows: 2545
Earliest: Jan 16, 1971
Latest: Jul 5, 2024
Next Show: Sun Aug 18,2024 at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA
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[WikiPedia] Little Feat is an American rock band formed by lead vocalist and guitarist Lowell George, keyboardist Bill Payne, drummer Richie Hayward and bassist Roy Estrada in 1969 in Los Angeles. The band's classic line-up, in place by late 1972, comprised George, Payne, Hayward, bassist Kenny Gradney, guitarist and vocalist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton. George disbanded the group because of creative differences shortly before his death in 1979. Surviving members re-formed Little Feat in 1987 and the band has remained active to the present. Singer and guitarist Lowell George met keyboardist Bill Payne when George was a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. They formed Little Feat in 1969 along with former Mothers bassist Roy Estrada, and drummer Richie Hayward from George's previous band, The Factory. Hayward had also been a member of the Fraternity of Man whose claim to fame was the inclusion of their "Don't Bogart That Joint" on the million-selling Easy Rider film soundtrack. The name of the band came from a comment made by Mothers' drummer Jimmy Carl Black about Lowell's "little feet". The spelling of "feat" was an homage to the Beatles. There are three stories about the genesis of Little Feat. One has it that George showed Zappa his song "Willin'," and that Zappa fired him from the Mothers of Invention, because he felt that George was too talented to merely be a member of his band and told him he ought to go away and form his own band. The second version has Zappa firing him for playing a 15-minute guitar solo with his amplifier off. The third version says that Zappa fired him because "Willin'" contains drug references ("weed, whites and wine"). George often introduced the song as the reason he was asked to leave the band. On October 18, 1975 at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, New York while introducing the song, George commented that he was asked to leave the band for "writing a song about dope". In any version, Zappa was instrumental in getting George and his new band a contract with Warner Bros. Records. The eponymous first album delivered to Warner Bros. was recorded mostly in August and September 1970 and was released in January 1971. When it came time to record "Willin'," George had hurt his hand in an accident with a model airplane, so Ry Cooder sat in and played the song's slide part. Lowell's accident is referenced on the cover art of the band's 1998 album Under the Radar. "Willin'" would be re-recorded with George playing slide for Little Feat's second album Sailin' Shoes, which was also the first Little Feat album to include cover art by Neon Park, who had painted the cover for the Mothers' Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Park's surrealist art would continue for all of Little Feat's album covers through to his death in 1993. Sometime during the recording of the first two albums, the band members along with ex-Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black ("the Indian of the group") backed soul singer Nolan Porter on his first album, No Apologies. The first two albums received nearly universal critical acclaim, and "Willin'" became a standard, subsequently popularized by its inclusion on Linda Ronstadt's album Heart Like a Wheel. Despite good reviews of Sailin' Shoes, lack of commercial success led to the band splitting up, with Estrada leaving to join Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, although he has given other reasons for quitting the band, such as to get away from the Los Angeles pollution and the L.A. city life. In late 1972 Little Feat reformed, with bassist Kenny Gradney replacing Estrada. The band also added a second guitarist in Paul Barrere, who had known George since they attended Hollywood High School in California, and percussionist Sam Clayton (brother of session singer Merry Clayton and the brother-in-law of the jazz saxophonist Curtis Amy) and as a result the band was expanded from a quartet to a sextet. Both Barrere and Clayton added vocals on many songs, although all the band members provided backing vocals in various tunes. This new lineup radically altered the band's sound, leaning toward New Orleans funk. The group went on to record Dixie Chicken (1973)—one of the band's most popular albums, which incorporated New Orleans musical influences and styles—as well as Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974), which was a studio-recorded attempt to capture some of the energy of their live shows (the name of the latter album pays homage to the Fats Waller song). In 1973, Payne, Gradney, Barrere, Clayton and George (incorrectly credited as George Lowell) collaborated with jazz drummer Chico Hamilton on his Stax album Chico the Master, which is a strong showcase for the band's leanings toward funk and R&B. In 1973, Little Feat backed Kathy Dalton on her Amazing album on the DiscReet label produced by Warner Brothers. Due to disappointing sales, the band disbanded a second time in late 1973. Payne joined the Doobie Brothers and Hayward joined Ike Turner. They reformed in 1974, releasing their fourth album Feats Don't Fail Me Now later that year. In 1974, Lowell George, along with the Meters and other session musicians, backed Robert Palmer on his Island Records debut solo release Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley which opened with George's "Sailing Shoes." The whole band chipped in on Palmer's 1975 release, Pressure Drop, which contained another George composition, "Trouble". 1976's Some People Can Do What They Like, Palmer's third opus, opened with the Bill Payne/Fran Tate composition "One Last Look", and later featured George's "Spanish Moon", although George and Gradney sat this one out. In March 1976, Little Feat served as the backing band on the first side of Akiko Yano's debut studio album Japanese Girl, released on the Philips label. The band remained based in Los Angeles due to doing session work on the side in addition to band activities. The release of The Last Record Album in 1975 signalled another change in the Little Feat sound, with Barrere and Payne developing an interest in jazz-rock. Prior to the recording of The Last Record Album, drummer Richie Hayward had a motorcycle accident and the liner to the LP release of The Last Record Album was decorated with copies of his many hospital bills. Also present was evidence of a late change to the running order of tracks: the lyrics for Barrere's song "Hi Roller" were printed on the sleeve, but scored out, and the words "maybe next time" scrawled over them. Sure enough, "Hi Roller" was the first track on the subsequent album Time Loves a Hero. George continued to produce the albums, but his songwriting contribution diminished as the group moved into jazz fusion, a style in which he had little interest. In August 1977, Little Feat recorded a live album from gigs at the Rainbow Theatre in London and Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Waiting for Columbus is considered by many rock music critics to be one of the best live albums of all time, despite the fact that significant portions of George's vocals and slide work were over-dubbed later in the studio. It was released in 1978, by which time it had become apparent that George's interest in the band was waning, as was his health. Little Feat began working on a new album, Down on the Farm, before disbanding in 1979. In an interview with Bill Flanagan (for the book Written in My Soul) conducted eleven days before his death, George made it clear that he felt the demise of Little Feat was due to his having allowed the band to be run democratically, with the result that Payne and, to a lesser extent, Barrere, had a presence as songwriters and in production which was disproportionate to their abilities. George was particularly scathing about Payne's attempts at jazz/fusion, citing an instance when Payne jammed with Weather Report on a TV show and dropped "into one of his 'Day at the Dog Races'. I just got out of there as fast as I could. It was embarrassing". In the same interview, George stated that he planned to reunite Little Feat without Payne and Barrere. At this time Warner Bros. released George's only solo album, Thanks, I'll Eat It Here, for which he had signed a contract in 1975. The album was mostly a collection of cover versions that George had been working on as a side project for several years and, in his biography Rock And Roll Doctor, Mark Brend states that George had hinted he only signed the solo contract to obtain funds to finance Little Feat (and Bill Flanagan states in Written in My Soul that George "didn't want his audience to assume a collection of other people's material marked the direction of Lowell George's solo career"). While touring in support of his solo album in June 1979, at the age of 34, George collapsed and died in his hotel room in Arlington, Virginia. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a heart attack. The surviving members finished and released Down on the Farm in late 1979. A double compilation album of rare studio outtakes and live recordings, Hoy-Hoy!, was released in 1981. The album is an overview of the history and sound of Little Feat and includes a cover of the Hank Williams song "Lonesome Whistle". In 1981 and 1982, Barrere, Clayton, Gradney and Hayward performed several shows as "Barrere, Clayton, Gradney and Hayward" along with singer/guitarist Phil Brown. Barrere then released two solo albums, 1983's On My Own Two Feet (Mirage) and 1984's Real Lies (Atlantic). Richie Hayward was the drummer on Robert Plant's 1985 funk and new wave flavoured Shaken 'n' Stirred (Es Paranza). Payne has always been a popular and busy session musician, as well as a songwriter, and during the band's first hiatus performed on a variety of albums by many famous musicians including J. J. Cale, the Doobie Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Pink Floyd, Bob Seger, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Nicks. He was a guest performer on Raitt's Sweet Forgiveness in 1977, which featured his composition "Takin' My Time." In 1986, Hayward, Barrere and Payne were invited to play on Blue Slipper, the 1987 debut album by Helen Watson. They subsequently appeared on her second album The Weather Inside. The surviving former members of Little Feat then reformed in 1987 when Barrere, Clayton, Gradney, Hayward and Payne added songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Craig Fuller, formerly from the band Pure Prairie League, and Fred Tackett on guitar, mandolin and trumpet. The band admired Fuller's previous work and were impressed when he toured with them in 1978 as part of the Fuller/Kaz band. They didn't require an audition, having played with him on tour, and thus, the new Little Feat lineup was formed. The initial release by the new lineup, Let It Roll, was a tremendous success and Fuller's presence proved to be a major factor. His strong vocals and songwriting abilities were showcased, co-writing 8 of the 10 songs and handling a large share of lead vocals. The first single, "Hate to Lose Your Lovin'", earned the band their first No. 1 hit on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. All Music Guide critic Stephen Erlewine stated "What's surprising about Let It Roll is not just that it works, but that it works smashingly." The LP garnered Feat a certified gold record status on February 14, 1989. On the heels of this success, previous Feat releases experienced a surge in sales. The 1978 live release Waiting for Columbus went platinum in November 1989. Dixie Chicken, originally released on January 25, 1973, went gold the same month. The band received more exposure than ever, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Concerts were booked nationally, and Little Feat played enthusiastic, sold-out shows. The follow-up album, Representing the Mambo, released in 1990, proved to be the group's last album for Warner Bros., who were uncomfortable with the album's jazzier leanings. The third and final album by this lineup, Shake Me Up (1991), was released on Morgan Creek, as was the soundtrack of the 1992 film White Sands which contained one song by Little Feat called Quicksand and Lies, but this label folded soon afterwards and Little Feat moved from one label to another until the establishment of Hot Tomato Records in 2002. In the fall of 1991, Clayton was forced to miss several tour dates due to ill health. Fuller departed in 1993, stating that touring required too much time away from his family. He went on to join a re-formed Pure Prairie League, who in 2005 released their critically acclaimed All in Good Time, which heavily featured his songwriting, singing and acoustic guitar. Up until leaving PPL again in 2011, he performed about 40 shows yearly with them, as well as occasional shows with Little Feat in addition to performing solo shows. Fuller was replaced by Shaun Murphy in September 1993. Murphy had sung on all of the recent Little Feat albums and throughout 1993 she had toured as part of Bob Seger's band with Fred Tackett and Bill Payne. Murphy's first album with the group was Ain't Had Enough Fun. As well as having material specifically written for her, fans attracted to her hard-edged powerhouse voice, further albums Under the Radar and Chinese Work Songs saw Murphy become an integral part of the group sharing lead vocals and writing with Payne and Barrere. Her rendition of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh" was first recorded in studio on Chinese Work Songs and became a favorite in live appearances with Murphy. After recording five studio albums and performing over 1,400 concerts with the band, Murphy was dismissed in 2009, and the group pared down to a six-piece collective entity. In 2008, the group released Join the Band, an album featuring collaborations with Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Bob Seger, Béla Fleck, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Robinson, Vince Gill, Mike Gordon, and Inara George. In August 2009, Richie Hayward announced that he had recently been diagnosed with a severe liver disease and would be unable to work indefinitely. A benefit concert was organized and a website created where fans unable to attend could donate toward his treatment costs. Little Feat announced that their drum technician Gabe Ford would take his place. Hayward married and was living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with his liver cancer in remission as he awaited a transplant. On July 11, 2010, Little Feat played at the Vancouver Island Music Festival and Hayward was slated to play just a couple of tunes, but once he sat behind his kit, he finished out the night. Hayward had intended to return to the band in the event of recovery, but he died on August 12, 2010, from pneumonia and complications from lung disease. In June 2012, Little Feat released their first album of new material in nine years, Rooster Rag. In 2014, the band Leftover Salmon announced that Bill Payne had joined with them as a permanent member. He left in 2015 to take up a permanent post in The Doobie Brothers' touring band: this restricted his ability to perform longer tours with Little Feat. After this, the full band would perform around 10 dates per year, while Barrere, Tackett, Gradney and Ford would sometimes tour playing Little Feat material as a four-piece called Funky Feat. In 1994, Paul Barrere had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and, in 2013, took a leave of absence from touring with Little Feat to combat the disease, and to remain close to his health providers. He later performed a few one-off gigs with Fred Tackett as an acoustic duo and recorded collaborations with longtime friend Roger Cole. In August 2015, it was announced that he was suffering from liver cancer. In 2017 the band was joined for some shows by the Midnight Ramble Horns (Steve Bernstein, Jay Collins, and Erik Lawrence) who then augmented the band for the 50th Anniversary tour of 2018. They continue to often join the band on selected dates. The band then toured more sporadically during the next four years. Paul Barrere died on October 26, 2019. Scott Sharrard, who had filled in for Barrere during Little Feat's 50th Anniversary tour, was later brought on board as a full-time band member. On September 16, 2020, the band released a video rerecording of the 1975 Lowell George song Long Distance Love. The video introduced a new band lineup with Tony Leone, known for his work with Levon Helm and Phil Lesh, joining on drums in place of Gabe Ford. Levon Helm's daughter Amy guested on backing vocals - she and Leone had previously played together in Ollabelle. A new song, the first in eight years, "When All Boats Rise", was released in late October 2020. The band's latest studio album Sam's Place was released in May 2024. It marks the first Little Feat album where Sam Clayton provides lead vocals on every song. Some of the prominent musicians and bands to play and record the music of Little Feat include Phish, The Black Crowes, The Byrds, The Bridge, Garth Brooks, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Taylor Hicks, Ron Holloway, Keisuke Kuwata, Nicolette Larson, Nazareth, Robert Palmer, The Radiators, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Seatrain, John Sebastian, Richard Shindell, Carly Simon, Mick Taylor, Van Halen, Joe Walsh, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Sam Bush, Coco Montoya, Vince Herman, Inara George, Stephen Bruton, Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule, Blackberry Smoke, Jimmy Buffett, Anders Osborne,Tedeschi Trucks Band and Gregg Allman. In 2010, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey Phish covered Little Feat's album, Waiting for Columbus, for their annual Halloween show. As a result of this concert and the distribution of its recording, the album gained recognition from a wider audience among younger listeners. In 2018, at Peach Fest at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the remaining members of Little Feat joined forces with moe., the Turkuaz Horns and the Ramble Band Horns to recreate and pay homage to the band's classic live album Waiting For Columbus. Little Feat's songs "Sailin' Shoes" and "Fat Man in the Bathtub" were featured prominently in the 2010 Edward Norton film Leaves of Grass. Guitarist Jimmy Page stated that Little Feat was his favorite American band in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview. According to Roots Music Magazine, "What most people remark on when it comes to Little Feat is their refusal to adhere to one genre. While rock ‘n’ roll might work as an umbrella term, Little Feat’s sound stretched much deeper and wider." The band's sound in their early albums was rooted in country rock, but they would expand their style "to incorporate the sounds of Laurel Canyon, California and the traditional blues feel of the deep south." According to Rolling Stone, "Little Feat were the archetypal cult band: inspired, turbulent, smart, experimental, deserving – and accident-prone. Their modest ambition was to warp and syncopate mere reality, using stop-start rhythms and slapstick-surreal lyrics. Out of an internal chemistry that led to almost as many breakups as albums, the group invented a zany South-West synthesis, via New Orleans, Memphis, Macon, Houston, Nashville, Tijuana and their native Los Angeles." The band experimented with jam band styles, incorporating influences from soul, folk music and other genres. By the late 1970s, Rolling Stone said that "Keyboardist Bill Payne and guitarist Paul Barrère were writing tunes that tipped the group toward a less distinctive jazz-rock fusion (closer to its prime emulators, the Doobie Brothers)". Americana UK said that Little Feat was "one of the great melting pots of southern music, drawing heavily on country, folk, blues, soul, swamp pop and R&B to create their signature sound", they classified as swamp rock. Jackson Hole Community Radio called Little Feat "one of the most successful and adored Southern rock bands". Since 2003 Little Feat has organised an annual fans' trip to Jamaica, where the full band plays several shows, often with guests, and various members perform solo and duo sets. Fong-Torres, Ben. (2013). Willin': The Story of Little Feat, Da Capo Press. Official website Little Feat collection on the Internet Archive's live music archive
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