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Little Feat

Though they had all the trappings of a Southern-fried blues band, Little Feat were hardly conventional. Led by songwriter/guitarist Lowell George, Little Feat were a wildly eclectic band, bringing together strains of blues, R&B, country, and rock & roll. The bandmembers were exceptionally gifted technically and their polished professionalism sat well with the slick sounds coming out of Southern California during the '70s. However, Little Feat were hardly slick -- they had a surreal sensibility, as evidenced by George's idiosyncratic songwriting, which helped the band earn a cult following among critics and musicians. Though the band earned some success on album-oriented radio, the group was derailed after George's death in 1979. Little Feat re-formed in the late '80s, and while they were playing as well as ever, they lacked the skewed sensibility that made them cult favorites. Nevertheless, their albums and tours were successful, especially among American blues-rock fans.

However, Little Feat weren't conceived as a straight-ahead blues-rock group. Their founding members, Lowell George (vocals, guitar, slide guitar) and Roy Estrada (bass), were veterans of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. George had a long musical career before joining the Mothers. As a child, he and his brother Hampton performed a harmonica duet on television's Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour. During high school, he learned how to play flute, which led to him appearing as an oboist and baritone saxophonist on several Frank Sinatra recording sessions. He formed the folk-rock group the Factory with drummer Richie Hayward in 1965. Before disbanding, the Factory made some recordings for Uni Records, but the tapes sat unreleased until the 1990s. Following the group's demise, George joined the Mothers of Invention, where he met Estrada. Zappa convinced George to form his own band after hearing "Willin'," but the guitarist was reluctant to begin a band until he participated in a brief Standells reunion.

George and Estrada formed Little Feat in 1969 with Hayward and keyboardist Billy Payne. Neither their eponymous first album in 1971 nor 1972's Sailin' Shoes were commercial successes, despite strong reviews. As a result, the group temporarily disbanded, with Estrada leaving music to become a computer programmer. When the group reconvened later in 1972, he was replaced by New Orleans musician Kenny Gradney. In its second incarnation, Little Feat also featured guitarist Paul Barrére and percussionist Sam Clayton, who gave the music a funkier feeling, as demonstrated by 1973's Dixie Chicken. The band toured heavily behind the record, building a strong following in the South and on the East Coast. Nevertheless, the group remained centered in Los Angeles, since the members did a lot of session work on the side.

Though the band was earning a cult following, several members of the group were growing frustrated by George's erratic behavior and increasing drug use. Following 1974's Feats Don't Fail Me Now, Barrére and Payne became the band's main songwriters and they were primarily responsible for the jazzy fusions of 1975's The Last Record Album. Little Feat continued in that direction on Time Loves a Hero (1977), the double-live album Waiting for Columbus (1978), and Down on the Farm (1979). Frustrated with the band's increasingly improvisational and jazzy nature, George recorded a solo album, Thanks I'll Eat It Here, which was released in 1979. Following its release, George announced that Little Feat had broken up, and he embarked on a solo tour. Partway through the tour, he died of an apparent heart attack. Down on the Farm was released after his death, as was the rarities collection Hoy-Hoy! (1981).

After spending seven years as sidemen, Payne, Barrére, Hayward, Gradney, and Clayton re-formed Little Feat in 1988, adding vocalist/guitarist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett. The heavily anticipated Let It Roll was released in 1988 to mixed reviews, but it went gold. Each of the group's subsequent reunion albums -- Representing the Mambo (1989), Shake Me Up (1991), and Ain't Had Enough Fun (1995) -- sold progressively less, but the band remained a popular concert attraction. On the latter album, the band traded the strongly Lowell George-esque voice of Fuller for female singer Shaun Murphy; this lineup went on to release Under the Radar in 1998 and Chinese Work Songs in 2000. Numerous compilations and live recordings peppered the next few years, followed by 2003's Kickin' It at the Barn, the group's first album for its own indie label, Hot Tomato Records. Rocky Mountain Jam arrived in early 2007. Join the Band, a collection of duets with Feat friends and fans, followed in 2008 on Proper Records.

After a struggle with liver disease, founding Feat member Richie Hayward passed away from pneumonia and lung disease on August 12, 2010. Little Feat continued to tour after his death, enlisting Gabe Ford as their new drummer. The first album of new material from Little Feat in nine years, Rooster Rag, appeared in 2012. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

allysongoodr i c h 0
delicious
The best
Love those FEATS!
...give me an F...give me an E...well, you know the rest
1st best band always,,, such talent,,,I like alot of music but I always comes back to ma FEAT
WTF you mean Bill Payne come on man.
How come no mentio9n of Bill Haynes? One of the best key boardist ever!
With an A as in Feat brother.
richardsre20 0 0
little feet and jj cale have it
nik_dangr
Easy To Slip is one of my all-time favorite rock and roll songs and the album cover for Sailing Shoes is tres trippy.
One of the best live shows ever!!!!
Who cares just enjoy the music. Hall of fame my a** they don't have a clue.
Most favorite band ever...Hope all my Feat friends are rockin it in Jamaica...
amye45
Little Feat - Zappa - I did not know that.
In regards to the previous statement - I've been wondering the same thing myself
marylfisher
Lowell and Little Feat should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame like YESTERDAY! Whatssup?!!
marylfisher
Lowell and Little Feat should be in the Rock Hall and Fame like YESTERDAY!
seems plenty of you folks are likin lowell, look for Thanks I'll Eat It Here
djmendoja4
I love Little F@rt!!! Yikidydoo Rooster music!!
What great memories I've had with the feat and the amazing tour manager at the time Mr. Denny Jones. what great stories he has told throughout the years, so a big thank you to the best band ever Little Feat you have made my life enriched and I thank you for including my daughter Hannah to sing along with you to the most famous song ever Dixie Chicken you made an impact on her life as well..... Thank you for many special memories and good times my friends. Betsy Drew
Does anybody know if Little Feat got any credit for the title of Betty White's hit show, Off Their Rockers (old folks boogie)
Where is The Last Record Album?
dawn1916
Lyric Find sucks.
RIP Lowell, RIP Richie. LF in Lowell's era was phenomenal, and darn good through version-2, but during the whole time the band was just playing to keep up with Richie. LF was and is my favorite go-to band.
nfpeters51
Saw them in their initial incarnation in Philly at U of Penn's Irvine Auditorium circa 1970 as the opening act for...of all people...Cap t a i n Beefheart. Had never heard of them before; have been fan ever since.
Why aren't these guys in the R&R Hall of Fame yet?!
they play at Beaches in jamaica every year what a party!!!
hodgdons7
Good ol' Feats. Still ... not the same without Lowell George.
khercenberg4
They're still rocking. Check out their website - http://www.l i t t l e f e a t . n e t / for tour info. HOY HOY
fbildner
A boyfriend in college introduced me to little feat. Hey Mike - I'm still listening!!
Agreed re Waiting being one of the best live albums (did I just say 'album'?) ever...Song Remains, Allmans at Filmore, up there as well. Something about that opening prior to Join the Band (not sure who's saying it, but 'Roll tape, roll tape, roll tape...' can be heard as the band makes their way to/on stage). Saw them for the first time in a small venue in Milw in support of Let It Roll...prob one of best shows I've ever seen - Clapton, Stevie Ray, Dead included.
Nothing wrong with a touch of variety there Smock. This song is the title song off of ready Salin Shoes.
Saw them in a small place in Atlanta around 1972-73. Blew us all away! Have been a fan ever since. Had every album they made.
You have missed the boat yet again Pandora. the much better version of this is on the Feats Don't Fail Me Now recording
plant39
Why is this written in the past tense???!!!! ? ? ?

They are still rockin'!!
As great a band as ever walked on stage. Waiting For Columbus still stands as one of the greatest live recordings ever made. RIP - Lowell.
Feat forever
Does anyone know if Little Feat will tour in Richmond Va? (Innsbrook after dark)
kvons1
I wish the world would get off of my case--and get on one of it's own! Cold, Cold, Cold!
exposurephot o
I was a Rock Photographer in the 70's and was with Lowell George the night befor he died in Va after the amazing shoew he did in D.C. He was doing Cocaine and Heroine back to back Chasing the Dragon. No wonder he had a heart attack.

I still listen to their music today and Spanish Moon and Dixie Chicken are two of my all time favorite songs. I also saw him perform with Bonnie Raitt - What a show.
kc.flynn
One of the best shows I have even seen. Orleans lead off and Little Feat blew us away. Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City, 1976... KCF
I hear you moan
I first saw Little Feat in 1974 or 1975 when they were the opening band for the Kinks at Chicago's Aragon Ballromm. They were great and actually put on a better performance than the Kinks. I have seen LF several times since that first time and they were always great even after Lowell Geogre died.
petrikas
Saw Paul playing acoustic in a small bar in Hermosa Beach, CA in the early eighties. Most probably were not aware he was from LF. I sure did and was privileged to see him up close and keeping busy.
Thanks Stephen, a couple holes filled in. I will miss the original feat forever, as Bonnie said, I will miss Lowell like my 7th? birthday, and then some but you gotta admit that Paul and Bill and Fred have been wonderful to listen to and I got close with Shaun a couple times in the rain in Colorado, she did sing nice! Feat has kept me alive for along while, sure do miss those gone, wish I could go to Jamaica to celebrate with those remaining, I have got some song titles to share! Love ya'all
I can listen to Feat all day, I think it is either sad or really f**kin funny that half the people you run into don't even know them. Espcecially in my age bracket- I'm 27
I watched the movie Leaves of Grass last night with Ed Norton, Susan Sarrandon, and Richard Dreyfus- kick a** movie. They played two Little Feat tunes in it.
my favorite group, though lowell George was the unofficial leader he didn't carry the group, they were all great. And managed to pick up almost 10 years after George left. Creating an almost new sound just as good as thier original stuff. To me they are the Kings of Rock and Roll, not Elvis or the British Invasion Groups. Thier sound was such a mesh of every musical style there is that they had thier own unique and original sound. No band has ever competed with them
clayton_909
drove across the country many times in the 70's...best travelling music ever...
Agree with your Hiatt comment godonford. Not so much with SRV and his brother. Get real Brother. Yes coolest band.
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