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Delbert McClinton

The venerable Delbert McClinton is a legend among Texas roots music aficionados, not only for his amazing longevity, but for his ability to combine country, blues, soul, and rock & roll as if there were no distinctions between any of them in the best time-honored Texas tradition. A formidable harmonica player long before he recorded as a singer, McClinton's career began in the late '50s, yet it took him nearly two de`cades to evolve into a bona fide solo artist. A critics' darling and favorite of his peers, McClinton never really became a household name, but his resurgence in the '90s helped him earn more widespread respect from both the public at large and the Grammy committee.

Delbert McClinton was born in Lubbock, Texas, on November 4, 1940, and grew up in Fort Worth. Discovering the blues in his teenage years, McClinton quickly became an accomplished harmonica player and found plenty of work on the local club scene, where musicians often made their living by playing completely different styles of music on different nights of the week. His most prominent early gig was with the Straitjackets, the house band at a blues/R&B club; it gave McClinton the opportunity to play harp behind blues legends like Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Bobby "Blue" Bland. In 1960, McClinton's cover of Williamson's "Wake Up Baby" made him the first white artist to have a record played on the local blues station KNOK. McClinton's harmonica was prominently featured on Fort Worth native Bruce Channel's 1962 number one smash "Hey! Baby"; brought along for Channel's tour of England, McClinton wound up giving harp lessons to a young John Lennon. Upon returning to the States, McClinton founded a group called the Rondells (sometimes listed as the Ron-Dels), which had a minor chart single in 1965 with "If You Really Want Me to, I'll Go." Although the Rondells recorded for several different labels, wider success eluded them and McClinton spent much of the '60s making the rounds of the Texas club and roadhouse circuit, where his reputation kept growing steadily.

In 1972, McClinton moved to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with Fort Worth singer/songwriter Glen Clark as Delbert & Glen. Signed to the small Atlantic affiliate Clean Records, Delbert & Glen recorded two albums in a mostly country-rock vein, 1972's Delbert & Glen and 1973's Subject to Change. Neither sold well and McClinton returned to Texas in 1974, where he was able to land a solo deal with ABC on the strength of his emerging songwriting talent. His first solo album, Victim of Life's Circumstances, was released in 1975; although he was marketed as part of the emerging progressive country movement, McClinton's music was too indebted to blues and R&B to neatly fit that tag. Genuine Cowhide (1976) and Love Rustler (1977) followed to highly positive reviews, if not much commercial attention, and other artists started to mine McClinton's catalog for material; in 1978, Emmylou Harris took his "Two More Bottles of Wine" all the way to the top of the country charts. A switch to Capricorn produced two albums, 1978's Second Wind and 1979's Keeper of the Flame; the former featured his original version of "B Movie Boxcar Blues," later a part of the Blues Brothers repertoire. When Capricorn folded, he moved to the Muscle Shoals Sound imprint and his 1980 label debut, The Jealous Kind, gave him his first Top 40 single in "Givin' It Up for Your Love," which hit on both the pop and country charts.

Unfortunately, Muscle Shoals Sound folded not long after McClinton's follow-up, 1981's Plain From the Heart, and he subsequently took a long hiatus from recording, concentrating instead on live performances. His next prominent appearance was an acclaimed vocal turn on guitarist Roy Buchanan's 1986 album Dancing on the Edge; that guest appearance helped land him a deal with Alligator. In 1989, McClinton issued the comeback album Live from Austin, which earned him his first Grammy nomination (for Best Contemporary Blues Album). He signed with Curb in 1990, debuting that year with I'm with You, and moved to Nashville, where he soon became a much sought-after songwriter (often in tandem with new partner Gary Nicholson) in the contemporary country field. Over the next few years, McClinton placed material with stars like Wynonna, Vince Gill, Lee Roy Parnell, and Martina McBride, among others. His biggest break, though, came when he was tapped for a duet with Bonnie Raitt on 1991's Luck of the Draw, the follow-up to her much-lauded comeback Nick of Time. The result, "Good Man, Good Woman," brought McClinton his first Grammy for Best Rock Vocal, Duo or Group, which suddenly raised his profile tenfold. He capitalized with 1992's Never Been Rocked Enough, which featured not only his duet with Raitt, but also guest appearances from Tom Petty and Melissa Etheridge, and his biggest hit single since 1980, "Every Time I Roll the Dice." Later that year, he hit the country charts with another duet, this time with Tanya Tucker on "Tell Me About It." The song later appeared on McClinton's next album, 1993's simply titled Delbert McClinton.

Despite enjoying the greatest commercial success of his career, McClinton's relationship with Curb was beginning to sour. His next two albums were released to comparatively little attention and he finally extricated himself from his contract to sign with Rising Tide, a small label associated with Universal. Released in 1997, One of the Fortunate Few was designed to restore McClinton to his early-'90s stature, featuring an array of guest stars, including Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Lyle Lovett, Pam Tillis, B.B. King, John Prine, and Mavis Staples. It was still definitely McClinton's show, however, and as such it received mostly complimentary reviews; it also sold more than 250,000 copies before Rising Tide went belly up. McClinton next returned in 2001 on the Austin, Texas-based New West imprint with another acclaimed effort, Nothing Personal. It proved to be one of the most popular recordings of his career, gaining substantial airplay on Americana radio and ending up one of the year's biggest hits on Billboard's blues chart; it also won him another Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The impressive Cost of Living was released in 2005 on New West Records. Acquired Taste followed in 2009. In 2013, after a 40-year break, McClinton reunited with Clark for an album of new material, Blind, Crippled and Crazy. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Opening act for The Beatles in Europe in the early 60s, he came out of Lubbock, Texas on the heels of the great Buddy Holly.
sometimes it takes 40 years to become an overnight sensation
alot of talent there
Makes me feel sexy every time i here his voice! Solo tummy ;-?
love him!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
Pretty damn good for a white man
You were never mine. One of Delbert's finest. This song has become of trademark of Janiva Magness who is the soulful female counterpart of Delbert..... . . Love em both!
You can not go wrong with Delbert!
Delbert is one of my all time best Ihope some day we could see him at mystic blues fest
Delbert is the MAN!!!
Delbert like Rollin a seven every damn time! LOVE IT!
Delbert is awesome
preferredcus t o m e r 9
Love Delbert been listening to him for years. Don't know who Don Imus is
Delbert had a triple by pass beginning of April, feel good Delbert
I saw him open for Willie Nelson years ago, blew me away, great live, and very under appreciated, Love Sandy Beaches
We ALL need to thank Don Imus and his great TV and radio show for helping keep Delbert so popular the last twenty years or so! Thanks I-Man!!!
First saw Delbert at around late 70's at small venue in Wilmington, NC. I have been a fan since ! Awesome live, everytime!
Tomorrow night at Ziggy's!!
Eric is one of a kind period ;)
Love this guy. Regrets that I realized him so late. His music never gets old.
I always wondered how he tells my ol mans life as if he lived it???
I've often wondered how his songs about 'she took my money, she took my cadillac and she didn't come back' can make me so happy? His music infects me. His Blues makes me a happy man!!!
3 days until Delbert LIVE. I can't wait.
I met him a few years ago a simple man Dead wood South Dakota. ..great voice,,,,,,
A real talent who never got the recognition he deserves. Going to see him live next month and I can't wait!!!
I discovered him a few years ago on a Dallas Radio Station, The Range.
I love his music, especially, When Rita Leaves! I think it is so cool that he taught John Lennon to play the harmonica.
i agree
Love This Music Pandora!!!
can not get enough oh him
my favorite also
My favorite artist
I have everything he did I believe! I can all night long.....
tarheelcharl e y
Had this album autographed by Del in early 80's. wonder how many people realized what this album cover was showing, lol.
Love his music
i think he is just so great......
wow !! that rendition of Just want to love you LIVE is why I love Delbert!
McClinton deserves a lot more commercial and critical success than he has gotten over the years, and not just as a songwriter for other stars or in duets but as a performer in his own right. Why he never became as big as country & blues stars who are very much his inferior I'll never understand. I've been enjoying his music since the early '90's without realizing he's been around a lot longer than that.
fowler_micha e l
I have seen Delbert, many times, from Tejas to the east coast, and every time ,its been the greatest date i ever had.. so much fun dancing and kissin.. just damn good fun!! You wont believe it, till you see him..
The correct title is, I want to love of many great songs by Delbert! Thor on Congas!
Delbert is the Greatest! true Road house warrior and Great song writer (AKA The Keeper Of The Flame) I Just want to love you is true Soul!
This guy should be required listening for kids today, maybe they would start listening to good music!
a dear friend 'Tim Krekel' turned me onto this mans talent...
they had mutual music and energies - Tim is gone, his lyrical legacies live on, and Mr McClinton carries a torch for so many, so well....
THIS MAN IS A LEGEND! I've seen him live several times and he is always great! The last time was in Denver. He was playing at an outdoor blues festival. It was 100 degrees plus and he was singing in the sun! The high altitude and heat were not enough to keep him from rockin us all into oblivion!
He is such a talented song writer too. His lyrics are clever, funny, soulful and really tell some great stories! I've have met him a few times and he was always very friendly. His autograph is something
Just listened to Down in Mexico, from "Cost of Living". I'm impressed !
Saw him at Chesapeake Bay blues festival few years ago. This guys a national treasure
As i work out every day, with his music, makes me want to dance.
Great R&B with that blues lick that carries us all to that place we love to be. He has that New Orleans soul with that jazz rock & roll that embodies all the great ones. Keep it up Delbert.
richard.pike y
I was introduced to Delbert by my late grandmother. She was crazy about him, as I now am. I have seen him live several time, AND he rocked every time. I am 23 years old. I respect Delbert's music and am one his biggest fans.
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