Little Feat: Wikis

  
  

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Little Feat

Performing at Stockholm JazzFest'09 in july 2009
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Rock and roll
Country rock
Funk
Blues-Rock
Years active 1969–1979, 1987–present
Labels Rhino Records
Warner Bros. Records
CMC International
Tower Records/Hot Tomato Imprint
Website 2008 Official Little Feat website. Requires Flash
Members
Fred Tackett
Paul Barrere
Richie Hayward
Bill Payne
Kenny Gradney
Sam Clayton
Gabe Ford (interim member)
Former members
Lowell George (deceased)
Roy Estrada
Craig Fuller
Shaun Murphy

Little Feat is an American rock band formed by singer-songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist Lowell George and keyboardist Bill Payne in 1969 in Los Angeles.

Although the band has undergone several changes in its lineup, the music remains an eclectic blend of rock and roll, blues, country, folk, R&B, funk and jazz fusion influences, with the vast majority of the songs they perform being written by the band members—past and present.

Contents

History

Lowell George Era (1969-1979)

Lowell George met Bill Payne when George was a member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Payne had auditioned for the Mothers, but had not joined. They formed Little Feat along with former Mothers' bassist Roy Estrada and drummer Richie Hayward from George's previous band, The Factory. 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 a nod to The Beatles.

There are three legends 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 Oct. 18, 1975 at The Auditorium Theater in Rochester New York while introducing the song, George comments that he was asked to leave the band for "writing a song about dope".[1]

In any version, Zappa was instrumental in getting George and his new band a record contract. When "Willin'" was recorded for the Little Feat album, George 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 1996 album Under the Radar. "Willin'" was re-recorded (this time with Lowell playing) on 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 Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

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.

Lack of commercial success led, however, to the band splitting up, with Estrada leaving to join Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. In 1972 Little Feat reformed, with bassist Kenny Gradney replacing Estrada. The band also added a second guitarist, Paul Barrere, who had known George since they attended Hollywood High School in California, and percussionist Sam Clayton. Both Barrere and Clayton added vocals on many songs, although all the band members provided backing vocals in various tunes.

L to R: Paul Barrere and Lowell George, original frontmen for Little Feat; 1972-1977

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.)

The release of The Last Record Album in 1975 signaled 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 Paul 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.

Lowell 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, DC. 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 in fact over-dubbed later in the studio.[2] It was released in 1978, by which time it had become apparent that Lowell George's interest in the band was waning, as was his health.

After Time Loves A Hero and before the Down on the Farm sessions, Little Feat were used as the backing band for Robert Palmer's album Pressure Drop, which featured his cover version of Lowell's song "Trouble."

George did some work on what would eventually become Down on the Farm but then recorded a solo album Thanks, I'll Eat It Here and declared that Little Feat had disbanded. While touring for his solo album in June 1979, at the age of 34, George was found dead in his hotel room in Arlington, Virginia. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a heart attack, although it is considered likely that George's excess weight, (formerly chronic) drug usage, and the strain of touring contributed to his condition.

Lowell George was respected for his idiosyncratic genius, for crafting sophisticated melodies and lyrics; writing memorable songs, and for his high production standards. He is also remembered for his exuberant, unique slide style, which featured sustained, ringing legato lines.

The surviving members finished and released Down on the Farm before disbanding in 1979. A subsequent retrospective double album compilation of rare outtakes and live tracks, Hoy-Hoy!, was released in 1981. The Hank Williams song "Lonesome Whistle" is covered on the album.

Paul Barrere, Sam Clayton, Kenny Gradney and Richie Hayward performed several shows as Feats in 1981 and 1982.[3]

The Craig Fuller years (1987-1993)

In 1986 Richie Hayward, Paul Barrere and Bill 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 Craig Fuller, formerly from the band Pure Prairie League (who also provided some rhythm guitar), 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 need 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, garnering Feat its first gold record LP since Waiting For Columbus which now had gone platinum. 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. Barrere, Payne and company were pleased by the audience reaction: not only were they able to put over the Feat classics, but the new music was solid. While some Little Feat diehards could not accept the band without Lowell George, the new Little Feat with Fuller made a comeback that introduced a whole new generation to Little Feat.

Little Feat released two more recordings with Fuller, and the band continued to tour on a large scale. Fuller departed in 1993, stating that touring required too much time away from his family. Fuller joined a reformed Pure Prairie League, has commenced a long-overdue solo career and still guests with Little Feat on occasion.

The Shaun Murphy years (1993-2009)

Shaun Murphy - Live in Concert

Craig Fuller was replaced by Shaun Murphy in September 1993. Shaun 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 began her career working in Detroit, Michigan, most notably in theatre, and received a record contract with Rare Earth Records, a division of Motown Records, as a member of a duo with Meat Loaf. The duo later disbanded, and Murphy went on to sing and record with renowned artists such as Eric Clapton and Bob Seger, prior to joining Little Feat as a full time member of the band.

After recording five studio albums and performing over 1,400 concerts with the band, Murphy left Little Feat in February 2009 and will not be replaced.

Richie Hayward Health Concerns

In August 2009, Richie Hayward announced that he had recently been diagnosed with a severe liver disease and would not be at work indefinitely [4]. A benefit concert was organised [5] and a website created where fans unable to attend could donate towards his treatment costs. Little Feat have announced that until Richie is able to rejoin them, their drum technician Gabe Ford will take his place.

Little Feat recently confirmed on their website that Richie is suffering from liver cancer.

Legacy - Today and Tomorrow

Some of the prominent musicians and bands to play and record the music of Little Feat include The Black Crowes, The Byrds, The Bridge, Garth Brooks, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Taylor Hicks, Ron Holloway, Keisuke Kuwata, Nicolette Larson, Randy Newman, Robert Palmer, The Radiators, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, John Sebastian, Richard Shindell, Carly Simon, Mick Taylor, Van Halen, Joe Walsh, Phish, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Sam Bush, Coco Montoya, Vince Herman, Inara George, Stephen Bruton and Jimmy Buffett .

In 2008, Little Feat reached their 20th anniversary as a once-again active band, and with just one line up change since 1988. Jimmy Buffett has been an enthusiastic booster of the band for many years and his private record label was partnered with Feat's Hot Tomato Records to produce the CD Join the Band. Released in mid-August 2008, the album features collaborations with Buffett, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Bob Seger, Béla Fleck, Brooks and Dunn, Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), Vince Gill, Mike Gordon (Phish), and Inara George.

Personnel

Little Feat Personnel
Little Feat (1969-72)
Little Feat (1972-79)
Little Feat (1987-93)
Little Feat (1993-Jan. 2009)
Little Feat (Jan. 2009-Aug. 2009)
Little Feat (Aug. 2009-present)

Discography

Studio releases

Live releases

Compilations

  • Hoy-Hoy! (1981) [collection of live recordings]
  • As Time Goes By: The Very Best of Little Feat (1994) [Import to US - first, and only, Feat album available on CD for many years]
  • Hotcakes & Outtakes: 30 Years Of Little Feat (2000) [4 CD collection & outtakes][boxed set]
  • Ripe Tomatos - Volume One (2002)
  • Raw Tomatos - Volume One (2002)
  • The Essentials (2005) [Import to US]
  • Barnstormin' Live Volumes One + Two (2006) [boxed set]
  • The Best of Little Feat (2006)

Videos

  • Rockpalast Live (2000) [DVD] - Eleven-song performance for German live music television show "Rockpalast" that originally aired in July 1977, plus one bonus live track from Pinkpop Festival, Geleen, Holland, June 7, 1976
  • High Wire Act Live In St. Louis 2003 (2004 live) [DVD]
  • Little Feat & Friends in Jamaica - Burgers & Paradise (2006 live) [2 DVDs] - Little Feat & Friends in Jamaica 2005
  • "Little Feat: Skin It Black - The Rockpalast Collection (2009) [DVD] - At the Grugahalle in Essen in 1977, just before the recording album "Waiting For Columbus." Includes almost 30 minutes of alternative rehearsal versions including material that didn't make it into the final show.

Annual band excursion to Jamaica

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,

Year Dates Solo/Duo shows
1st Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • 1 February 2003 (with Piero Mariani)
  • 2 February 2003 (with Piero Mariani)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (31 January 2003)
  • Kenny Gradney (2 February 2003)
  • Fred Tackett with Miles Tackett and Dominic Genova (2 February 2003)
2nd Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • 30 January 2004 (with Sam Bush)
  • 31 January 2004 (with Sam Bush)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (29 January 2004)
  • Kenny Gradney with Piero Mariani (31 January 2004)
  • Richie Hayward (31 January 2004)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy and Piero Mariani (31 January 2004)
3rd Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • 28 January 2005 (with Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Miles Tackett and Piero Mariani)
  • 29 January 2005 (with Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Miles Tackett and Piero Mariani)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (27 January 2005)
  • Richie Hayward (29 January 2005)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Piero Mariani and the Cajun Queens (29 January 2005)
4th Annual Featfan Excursion Five band shows:
  • 28 January 2006 (with Inara George, Piero Mariani, Sam Bush and Vince Herman)
  • 29 January 2006 (with Inara George, Piero Mariani, Sam Bush and Vince Herman)
  • 1 February 2006 (with Piero Mariani, Ron Holloway and Coco Montoya)
  • 3 February 2006 (with Piero Mariani, Ron Holloway and Coco Montoya)
  • 4 February 2006 (with Coco Montoya)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (27 January 2006)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere and Piero Mariani (29 January 2006)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere, Ron Holloway and Piero Mariani (2 February 2006)
5th Annual Featfan Excursion Four band shows:
  • 28 January 2007 (with Craig Fuller and Vince Herman)
  • 29 January 2007 (with Craig Fuller, Vince Herman, Howie Golub, Michael B. Favreau and Larry Lister)
  • 2 February 2007 (with Craig Fuller and Hubert Sumlin)
  • 3 February 2007 (with Craig Fuller and Hubert Sumlin)
  • Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere, Craig Fuller and Vince Herman (27 January 2007)
  • Craig Fuller (29 January 2007)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (1 February 2007)
  • Fred Tackett (3 February 2007)
6th Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • 2 February 2008 (with Vince Herman)
  • 4 February 2008 (with Vince Herman)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (1 February 2008)

Quotes

"...and then I met Lowell George. I heard...'Sailin' Shoes' and went crazy. I got in my truck and drove to California...to work with Lowell. I'd have to say Little Feat was the biggest influence...Musically, they're my favorite band." -- Bonnie Raitt

"[At] the Plaza...the attorney general, staying one floor above us, complained about me playing Little Feat records too loud last night...Band-wise, Little Feat is my favorite American group." -- Jimmy Page, interviewed by Cameron Crowe (1975).

References

External links








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