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Lowell George

Background information
Birth name Lowell Thomas George
Born April 13, 1945(1945-04-13)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Died June 29, 1979 (aged 34)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Rock, Country rock, Rhythm and blues, Country blues, Funk, Blue-eyed soul
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Producer
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1965 - 1979
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Little Feat, Mothers of Invention
Website Little Feat Website
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster

Lowell Thomas George or Lowell George (April 13, 1945 – June 29, 1979) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, who was lead vocalist and frontman in the rock band Little Feat.

Contents

Early years

Lowell George was born in Hollywood, California the son of Willard H. George, a furrier who raised chinchillas and supplied furs to the movie studios.

George's first instrument was the harmonica. At the age of 6 he appeared on the Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour performing a duet with his older brother, Hampton. At Hollywood High School Lowell took up the flute in the school marching band and orchestra. He started to play guitar at age 11, continued with the harmonica, and later learned to play the saxophone and sitar.

He played guitar with fellow schoolmate, and future bandmate, Paul Barrere.

Performing

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Early years

George's first band, The Factory, formed in 1965. Members included future Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward (he replaced Dallas Taylor in Sept 1966), and Martin Kibbee (a.k.a. Fred Martin) who would later co-write several Little Feat songs with George, including "Dixie Chicken" and "Rock & Roll Doctor". Frank Zappa produced two tracks for The Factory. The band made an appearance on the 1960s sitcom F Troop as "The Bed Bugs".

Following the disbanding of The Factory, George briefly joined the band The Standells. There followed a few months in late 1968 to early 1969 where George was a member of Zappa's band, the Mothers of Invention and can be heard on both the album Weasels Ripped My Flesh, and playing guitar and singing on several tracks on the first disc of Zappa's "You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Volume 5," including a version of "Here Lies Love," with Lowell as lead vocalist. George also joined Peter Tork in his first post-Monkee band "Release".

Little Feat

After leaving the Mothers of Invention, George invited fellow musicians to form a new band, which they named Little Feat.

George usually (but not always) played lead guitar with Barrere and focused as a slide guitarist. Ry Cooder played the slide on the original Little Feat recording, although George re-recorded some of his material. Mark Brend wrote that it was George's "use of compression that defined his sound and gave him the means to play his extended melodic lines."[1]

Outside of his band, George played guitar on John Cale's 1973 album Paris 1919, Harry Nilsson's Son of Schmilsson album (Take 54) and (uncredited but verified by Leo Nocentelli) The Meters' "Just Kissed My Baby" in 1974.

George in 1977 Photo: Jean-Luc Ourlin

In the 1970's, Little Feat released a series of studio albums: Little Feat, Sailin' Shoes, Dixie Chicken, Feats Don't Fail Me Now, The Last Record Album, and Time Loves A Hero. The group's 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus became their best-selling album.

George was also a producer, and produced the Grateful Dead's 1978 album Shakedown Street, as well as Little Feat's records, Valerie Carter's 1977 release Just A Stone's Throw Away, and George's 1979 solo album Thanks, I'll Eat it Here.

Death

On June 15, 1979, George began a tour in support of his solo album.

George fell ill in his Arlington, VA hotel room and died on June 29, 1979. An autopsy showed that he died of an accidental drug overdose.[2] Lowell George's body was cremated in Washington D.C. on August 2. His ashes were flown back to Los Angeles, where they were scattered in the Pacific Ocean from his fishing boat.

He is survived by his daughter, Inara George, a solo artist and member of the duo The Bird and the Bee. He is also survived by a son, Luke George.

Posthumous tributes and cover songs

A benefit concert for Lowell George's family was held shortly after his death at The Forum in Los Angeles on August 4, 1979, featuring Little Feat, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Nicolette Larson, among others.

The song "Ride Like The Wind" on the 1979 self-titled album by Christopher Cross was dedicated to Lowell George.

Jackson Browne memorialized George in his 1980 song "Of Missing Persons" [3], written about George and addressed to his daughter, Inara George who is in The Bird and the Bee.

In 1983, the British poet Sean O'Brien (writer) included a poem "For Lowell George" in his collection, The Indoor Park.

In 1988, American rock band Van Halen covered "A Apolitical Blues" as the closing track for their album OU812.

In 1988, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir performed George's "Easy to Slip" on a tour with stand-up bassist Rob Wasserman. Wasserman produced the duo's album "Bob Weir Rob Wasserman Live" where the song appears.

In 1997, the CD "Rock-n-Roll Doctor - A Tribute To Lowell George" was released featuring various artists performing versions of Lowell George's songs, including Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Bonnie Raitt, Eddie Money, Randy Newman, Japanese recording star Keisuke Kuwata, and Lowell George's daughter Inara George.

In 2006, Chris & Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes covered "Roll Um Easy" during one of their shows at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles as part of the "Brothers of a Feather" tour and subsequent album release. Prior to the song's performance, Chris Robinson notes that George had a profound musical influence on both him and his brother. The Black Crowes also regularly cover "Willin" in concert. In July, the Dave Matthews Band recorded a live version of Crash Into Me at Folsom Field, where Dave gave tribute to George's "Dixie Chicken" by including George's chorus at the end of the song.

French recording artist Yann Schubert included tribute song "Lowell George" (words and music by Jean Philippe Kohn) in his '80s eponymous album ( AZ/2 320 )

References

  1. ^ Rock and Roll Doctor--Lowell George: Guitarist, Songwriter and Founder of Little Feat, by Mark Brend, Backbeat Books, Oct. 2002, p.75,
  2. ^ Lowe-Carter rock wedding Kurt Loder. Anchorage Daily News - Sep 14, 1979.
  3. ^ "Of Missing Persons" Hold Out, the album, was released in June 1980 and went straight to #1. (It was certified platinum within 3 months of release and stayed on the charts for 38 weeks.) The song "Of Missing Persons" was written by Browne about Lowell George, a friend who was sincerely missed, and was dedicated to Lowell's daughter.

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Jerry Garcia
AMA Presidents Award
2009
Succeeded by
Not Yet Awarded

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