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Music / Little Feat

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Little Feat's classic lineup. From left to right: Bill Payne, Richie Hayward, Sam Clayton, Lowell George (seated), Paul Barrere, and Kenny Gradney.

Little Feat is an American rock band that formed in 1969 after its frontman, singer-guitarist Lowell George, was fired from The Mothers of Invention. The band is known for its eclectic sound that mixes elements of Southern Rock, Blues Rock, Funk, R&B, Country Rock, Jazz Fusion, and good old fashioned Rock & Roll.

Rounding out the original lineup was fellow ex-Zappa alumni Roy Estrada on bass, former The Factory bandmate Richie Hayward on drums, and keyboardist Bill Payne, who had tried to audition for The Mothers. The band released two studio albums, their Self-Titled Album and Sailin' Shoes which gained attention for it's surreal Americanic sound, musicianship, and George's songwriting.

Despite critical success, the band struggled to find an audience. As a result, Estrada left to join Captain Beefheart's band. Replacing him was New Orleans native Kenny Gradney, who brought Sam Clayton note  along on percussion, and George's high school classmate Paul Barrere was added as a second guitar. With the expanded lineup, Dixie Chicken saw the band's sound solidify into a more New Orleans oriented style.

While George was the face of the band, initial leader and primary songwriter, overtime Payne and Barrere would gradually gain prominence due in large part to George's lifestyle. This would create a large drift in the band, resulting in the band splitting up in 1979. While George desired to reform the group without Payne and Barrere, his death shortly after the split ended any chances of that.

However, the surviving members would reform in 1987 to moderate success and have continued into the present day, even through continuing lineup changes, most notably the deaths of Hayward and Barrere.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Paul Barrere: guitar, slide guitar, vocals (1972-79; 1987-2019; died 2019)
  • Sam Clayton: percussion, vocals (1972-79; 1987-Present)
  • Roy Estrada: bass, backing vocals (1969-72)
  • Gabe Ford:drums (2010-Present note )
  • Craig Fuller: vocals, guitar (1987-93)
  • Lowell George: vocals, guitar, harmonica, soprano saxophone, drum machine (1969-79; died 1979)
  • Kenny Gradney: bass (1972-79; 1987-Present)
  • Richie Hayward: drums, backing vocals (1969-79; 1987-2010; died 2010)
  • Shaun Murphy: vocals, tambourine (1993-2009)
  • Bill Payne: keyboards, vocals (1969-79; 1987-Present)
  • Fred Tackett: guitar, mandolin, trumpet, vocals (1987-Present note )


Studio Albums

  • Little Feat (1971)
  • Sailin' Shoes (1972)
  • Dixie Chicken (1973)
  • Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974)
  • The Last Record Album (1975)
  • Time Loves a Hero (1977)
  • Down on the Farm (1979)
  • Let It Roll (1988)
  • Representing the Mambo (1990)
  • Shake It Up (1991)
  • Ain't Had Enough (1995)
  • Under the Radar (1998)
  • Chinese Work Songs (2000)
  • Kickin' It at the Barn (2003)
  • Join the Band (2008)
  • Rooster Rag (2012)

Live Albums

  • Waiting for Columbus (1978) note 
  • Live from Neon Park (1996)
  • Extended Versions (2000)
  • Late Night Truck Stop (2001) note 
  • Live at the Rams Head (2002)
  • Down Upon the Suwannee River (2003)
  • Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003 (2004)
  • Barnstormin' Live Volume One (2005)
  • Barnstormin' Live Volume Two (2005)
  • Rocky Mountain Jam (2007)
  • Live at Winterland Valentine's Day 1976 (2012)
  • Hellzapoppin' (2013)
  • Live in Holland 2014 (2014)
  • On Your Way Down (2014)

If you give me weed, whites, and wine, then I'll be willin'... to be tropin'!

  • The Ace: Lowell George.
  • Boxed Set: Hotcakes & Outtakes: 30 Years of Little Feat (2000), a 4-CD set containing highlights from the band's entire history up to that time as well as early and solo material from George and Estrada.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first record lacked the syncronated funk rhythms and tight grooves of later records, instead being largely a roots-based affair in the vein of Leon Russell, The Band, and Exile-era Rolling Stones.
  • The Hedonist: Lowell. Deconstructed as this loosened his grip on the band as a result.
  • Long Runner Lineup: The Shawn Murphy lineup, which lasted from her arrival in 1993 until she left in 2009.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Sailin' Shoes, which had a harder edged rock sound courtesy of Ted Templeman.
    • Dixie Chicken, the first record with the band's classic lineup, incorporated more New Orleans funk into its sound.
    • Feats Don't Fail Me Now saw the band move more towards boogie woogie.
    • Time Loves a Hero incorporated jazz fusion, to Lowell's chargin.
  • Noodle Incident: Why was Lowell fired from The Mothers of Invention? Explanations have varied from the drug references in "Willin'", Zappa encouraging him to form his own band, and even Lowell playing a solo while his amp was unplugged.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • Lowell had the band rerecord "Willin'" for Sailin' Shoes.
    • Likewise, "Cold Cold Cold" and "Tripe Face Boogie" were performed as a medley to close out Feats Don't Fail Me Now.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Shaun Murphy was the only female member both during her time and in the band's entire history.
  • Solo Side Project: Lowell George's Thanks I'll Eat It Here (1977), which features more of the "classic" Feat sound in contrast to the jazz-based material the band was by then exploring.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: "Feel the Groove", the closing track to Down on the Farm, was Sam Clayton's only lead vocal during the classic era. However, his voice would be used more post-reformation.