LITTLE FEAT and LOWELL GEORGE – ” Thanks, I’ll Eat it Here “

Posted: November 10, 2018 in MUSIC
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Lowell George and Little Feat never sold many records, but they wowed musicians and their unique sound fostered a hardcore, persistent cult. George’s tunes and guitar work popped up on tracks by Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, and Robert Palmer. Mick Jagger called Little Feat his favorite band.

Little Feat was a group out of LA that sort of formed after their singer Lowell George got fired from The Mothers Of Invention by Frank Zappa, or so the story goes. And this song today is one of the reasons, a 1972 ode about smuggling. By the mid-1970s, what People dubbed “America’s best unknown band” was locked in recurrent dogfights. But when George strapped on his Strat, the band’s exuberant magic rerouted the intramural snarling into tightly meshed musical interactions. Until 1978, when things finally fell apart.

In June 1979, George finished a D.C. concert promoting his first solo album, went back to his hotel room, O.D.’ed on heroin, and had a massive heart attack. The singer passed away in 1979 at the age of 34. George, a frazzling mix of outsized talents and avid self-destruction, embodied the rock credo “Live fast, die young.” Driven and obsessive, the guitar great rode a meteoric career arc—until his substance abuse finally crashed it.

In late 1969 George brought keyboard genius Bill Payne, ace drummer Richie Hayward, and ex-Mothers bassist Roy Estrada into Little Feat’s first line up. Spearheaded by his emotive tenor and unmistakable slide guitar, the foursome grew into a rollicking sextet that adroitly mixed blues raunch, country flourishes, and Crescent City syncopations in complex songs and jams.

The pudgy charismatic guy in the white overalls was on top of the world. Except when he wasn’t. His obsessiveness fueled headlong dives into booze and drugs that buttressed his fragile personality but amped up his irresponsible jags: like leaving master tapes for their finest studio disc “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” on a train,

The artist Linda Ronstadt does this one beautifully in her voice in 1974 on her Heart Like a Wheel release, but it’s hard to imagine her smuggling anything in any kind of rig. play it as designed on the album, with “When Will I be Loved” first, rolling right into “Willin'”. The 2 should never, ever be separated.

Ronstadt was one of George’s many paramours; she tells the story of how she woke up one day to find the wife she didn’t know he had at her door. She says incisively, “He was an enigma. He was convoluted in his speaking, his thinking. I think he was burdened by his intelligence.”

His self-destructive bent surfaced during these sessions: he cut his hand on a model airplane, so his pal Ry Cooder dropped in the tasty slide guitar. Naturally, George the perfectionist would re-record it for a later album.

“20 Million Things” The track from George’s solo effort, is such a piercing glimpse into his ever-more-fractured personality it feels eerily like he was writing his own epitaph. Quieter, minus his trademark slide, it hearkens back to earlier tunes like “Willin’.”

And so the vicious circles engulfing Lowell George finally closed. A hundred pounds overweight, besieged in body and soul, he was found dead in an Arlington, VA hotel after performing with a backup band while the D.C. crowd chanted “FEAT! FEAT! FEAT!”.

Thanks, I’ll Eat it Here. A pictorial tribute to the Rock and Roll Doctor.( Archive images by unknown photographers, used without explicit permission )..


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