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Lowell George - Audio Biography

Lowell George - Audio Biography
Mar 8, 2024 · 16m 8s

Lowell George, the legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist, left an indelible mark on the world of rock music before his untimely death in 1979 at the age of 34. As...

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Lowell George, the legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist, left an indelible mark on the world of rock music before his untimely death in 1979 at the age of 34. As the founder and driving force behind the band Little Feat, George's unique blend of rock, funk, blues, and country influenced countless musicians and helped to define the sound of American rock in the 1970s.
Early Life and Musical Beginnings
Lowell Thomas George was born on April 13, 1945, in Hollywood, California. His father, Willard George, was a furrier to the stars, and his mother, Lucille, was a housewife. Growing up in the heart of the entertainment industry, George was exposed to music from an early age. He began playing guitar at the age of 11 and quickly developed a passion for blues and R&B.
As a teenager, George attended Hollywood High School, where he met future bandmate Roy Estrada. Together, they formed a band called The Factory, which played a mix of blues and soul covers. George's talent as a guitarist and singer quickly earned him a reputation on the local music scene, and he began playing with other bands, including The Standells and The Mothers of Invention.
In 1966, George joined Frank Zappa's band, The Mothers of Invention, as a guitarist and vocalist. He appeared on several of the band's early albums, including "Freak Out!" and "Absolutely Free," and his distinctive slide guitar playing became a key element of the band's sound. However, George's time with The Mothers was short-lived, as he left the band in 1969 to pursue his own musical vision.
Formation of Little Feat
After leaving The Mothers of Invention, George formed his own band, Little Feat, with keyboardist Bill Payne, bassist Roy Estrada, and drummer Richie Hayward. The band's name was a reference to George's unusually small feet, which he often joked about in interviews.
Little Feat's self-titled debut album, released in 1971, showcased George's songwriting talents and the band's eclectic musical style. The album featured a mix of rock, blues, country, and R&B, with George's slide guitar and distinctive vocals at the forefront. Although the album was not a commercial success, it established Little Feat as a band to watch and earned them a dedicated following among music critics and fellow musicians.
Over the next several years, Little Feat released a series of critically acclaimed albums, including "Sailin' Shoes" (1972), "Dixie Chicken" (1973), and "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" (1974). These albums further refined the band's sound, blending elements of rock, funk, and New Orleans-style R&B into a unique and infectious mix.
George's songwriting during this period was particularly strong, with tracks like "Willin'," "Fat Man in the Bathtub," and "Rock and Roll Doctor" becoming fan favorites and staples of the band's live shows. His lyrics often dealt with themes of love, loss, and the struggles of everyday life, delivered with a wry sense of humor and a keen eye for detail.
In addition to his work with Little Feat, George also collaborated with other musicians during this period. He produced albums for artists like Robert Palmer and Valerie Carter, and he played guitar on recordings by the likes of John Cale, Harry Nilsson, and Bonnie Raitt.
Challenges and Struggles
Despite Little Feat's critical acclaim and dedicated fanbase, the band faced numerous challenges throughout the 1970s. George's drug use, particularly his addiction to heroin, began to take a toll on his health and his ability to perform. The band's lineup also underwent several changes, with Roy Estrada leaving the band in 1972 and being replaced by a series of bassists, including Kenny Gradney and Paul Barrere.
In 1975, Little Feat took a hiatus as George sought treatment for his drug addiction. When the band returned to the studio in 1977 to record their sixth album, "Time Loves a Hero," tensions were high, and the recording process was fraught with difficulties. The resulting album was a departure from the band's earlier sound, incorporating more jazz and fusion elements, and was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.
Despite these challenges, Little Feat continued to tour extensively throughout the late 1970s, building a reputation as one of the most dynamic and exciting live bands of their era. George's slide guitar playing and soulful vocals remained the centerpiece of the band's sound, and his onstage persona, complete with his trademark top hat and funky dance moves, made him a beloved figure among fans.
Tragic End and Legacy
Tragically, Lowell George's life and career were cut short on June 29, 1979, when he suffered a fatal heart attack in his hotel room in Arlington, Virginia. He had been on tour with Little Feat at the time, and the band had been scheduled to play a show that evening.
George's death sent shockwaves through the music community, and tributes poured in from fellow musicians and fans alike. Little Feat disbanded shortly after George's death, with the surviving members pursuing other projects and collaborations.
In the decades since his passing, Lowell George's legacy has only grown, with new generations of musicians discovering his music and citing him as an influence. His unique blend of rock, funk, and blues, combined with his poetic lyrics and distinctive vocals, helped to define the sound of 1970s American rock and paved the way for countless artists who followed in his footsteps.
George's influence can be heard in the work of artists like Bonnie Raitt, who covered his song "Dixie Chicken" and has cited him as a major influence on her own slide guitar playing. The Allman Brothers Band, another seminal 1970s rock band, also drew inspiration from George's music, with Gregg Allman once stating that "Lowell George was one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time."
In addition to his musical legacy, George is also remembered for his larger-than-life personality and his wry sense of humor. He was known for his love of practical jokes and his ability to light up a room with his infectious laughter and quick wit. His bandmates and friends remember him as a kind and generous soul, always willing to lend a helping hand or offer words of encouragement to those around him.
Little Feat's Reformation and Continuation
Although Little Feat disbanded following Lowell George's death, the surviving members of the band eventually reformed in 1987, with Fred Tackett taking over guitar duties and Craig Fuller handling vocals. The reformed band released several albums over the next several decades, including "Let It Roll" (1988) and "Representing the Mambo" (1990), and continued to tour extensively.
While the reformed Little Feat never quite captured the same magic as the original lineup, they remained a beloved and respected presence on the rock scene, known for their tight musicianship and eclectic blend of styles. The band also helped to keep Lowell George's music alive, frequently performing his songs in their live shows and introducing new generations of fans to his work.
In 2020, Little Feat celebrated their 50th anniversary with a series of special concerts and releases, including a deluxe edition of their live album "Waiting for Columbus." The band also announced plans for a documentary film about their history and legacy, with a particular focus on the life and music of Lowell George.
Remembering Lowell George
More than four decades after his untimely death, Lowell George's music and spirit continue to inspire and influence musicians and music lovers around the world. His unique blend of rock, funk, blues, and country, combined with his poetic lyrics and distinctive vocals, helped to define the sound of 1970s American rock and paved the way for countless artists who followed in his footsteps.
George's legacy is also a testament to the power of perseverance and the pursuit of one's artistic vision. Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks throughout his career, including struggles with drug addiction and personal demons, George never lost sight of his love for music and his desire to create something unique and meaningful.
His bandmates and friends remember him as a kind and generous soul, always willing to lend a helping hand or offer words of encouragement to those around him. His larger-than-life personality and wry sense of humor also made him a beloved figure among fans and fellow musicians alike.
Today, Lowell George's music continues to be celebrated and rediscovered by new generations of fans, thanks in part to the efforts of his surviving bandmates and the enduring appeal of his songwriting and musicianship. From the funky grooves of "Fat Man in the Bathtub" to the haunting beauty of "Willin'," George's songs remain timeless classics that continue to resonate with listeners of all ages and backgrounds.
As we look back on the life and legacy of Lowell George, it's clear that his impact on the world of rock music cannot be overstated. He was a true original, a visionary artist who helped to push the boundaries of what was possible in rock and roll and inspire countless others to follow in his footsteps.
While his life may have been cut tragically short, the music he created and the spirit he embodied continue to live on, a testament to the enduring power of art and the human spirit. As long as there are those who love rock and roll and appreciate the unique blend of styles and influences that made Little Feat so special, Lowell George's legacy will continue to shine bright, a guiding light for generations of musicians and music lovers to come.
Lowell George's Enduring Musical Influence
The influence of Lowell George's music can be heard in the work of countless artists across a wide range of genres, from rock and blues to funk and country. His un
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Comments
SAUL OLIANSKY

SAUL OLIANSKY

2 months ago

There are several inaccuracies in this biography. Lowell did not join Mothers Of Invention until November of 1968 and was not on Freak Out or Absolutely Free. He was on Hot Rats, Burnt Weeny Sandwhich, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Paul Barrere did not pass his audition as a bass player and joined Little Feat as a guitar player on their third album. He did not wear a "trademark top hat"! When Lowell died he was on tour with his "solo" band, not Little Feat who had disbanded before Lowell's death.
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