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Little Feat

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Little Feat was one of the more eclectic bands emerging from Southern California scene in the 70s, mixing colorful swatches of blues, R&B, country and rock with leader songwriter/guitarist Lowell George's offbeat songs. Initially, the band didn't survive George's death in 1979, but the remaining members reunited for a few comeback albums a decade later and became a popular touring attraction in the 90s. The original line-up of the band was Lowell George and bassist Roy Estrada, late of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, keyboardist Bill Payne and drummer Richie Hayward. 

Mysteriously, Warner Bros. didn't give the band a push until its second recording. George had already been noticed as a potentially major songwriter; two of his songs, "Truck Stop Girl" and "Willin'", were covered by the Byrds. The debut sold poorly and, quite inexplicably, so did Sailin' Shoes and Dixie Chicken. The latter featured a revised line-up including guitarist Paul Barrere, bassist Kenny Gradney and percussionist Sam Clayton, but minus the departed Estrada. Lack of stardom began taking its toll, and George began writing songs with John Sebastian amid rumors of a planned supergroup featuring Phil Everly.  

Feats Don't Fail Me Now marked a turn in the band's fortunes by hitting the album charts in the U.S. The album also marked the development of other members as credible songwriters and George's role began to diminish. The European critics were unanimous in praising the band in 1975 on the "Warner Brothers Music Show," a package tour featuring Graham Central Station, Bonaroo, Tower of Power and Montrose, with The Doobie Brothers headlining. The Last Record Album in 1975 contained George's finest love song, "Long Distance Love," but the singer was overindulging with drugs, and his contribution to Time Loves A Hero was minimal. 

Following the double live Waiting For Columbus, the band disintegrated and George started work on his solo album, Thanks I'll Eat It Here (which sounded like a Little Feat album); two notable tracks were "Missing You", and "20 Million Things To Do." During a solo concert tour, however, George suffered a fatal heart attack. The remaining band re-formed for a benefit concert for his widow, and the end of the turbulent year saw the release of Down On The Farm. In 1988, almost a decade after they broke up and many members became trusted sidemen, the band re-formed to record Let It Roll, which went gold. 

Long-term side man Fred Tackett and ex-Pure Prairie League member Craig Fuller were recruited to replace George, and the musical direction was guided by the faultless keyboard playing of Bill Payne. A second set from the re-formed band came in 1990, and although it disappointed many, it added fuel to the theory that this time they intended to stay together. Fuller departed in 1994 and was not present on Ain't Had Enough Fun, which featured Shaun Murphy, as their new lead singer. This lineup went on to release Under the Radar (1998) and Chinese Work Songs (2000).

© 2004