Saturday, July 28, 2007

Delbert McClinton, A Giant Blues Artist (Blogathon #6)

This guest blog entry was written by Shelly @ This Eclectic Life. I personally had never heard of Delbert McClinton until Shelly sent me this post. I am hooked on the videos she sent along with her article. Thank you, Shelly! When you're done reading this, head on over to Shelly's blog! She's got some great reads there!

In the early 1960s, there was a song called “Hey Baby,” by Bruce Chanel, with a harmonica solo that was amazing. Now, my Granddaddy Duncan played “the harp,” but it never sounded like that! I loved that harmonica solo so much that I was inspired to pick up the harmonica and give it a whirl. I didn’t have “the chops” for it.

John Lennon heard the song, and he began to experiment with the harmonica to try to replicate the sound. Just click the song below; you don’t have to listen to the whole thing. After you hear the introduction, you will know why people got inspired.

That’s Delbert McClinton playing the harmonica. I know that Jessica thinks Jon Bon Jovi is “The Man,” but she is wrong. Delbert McClinton hung the moon, as far as I’m concerned. He is from Lubbock, Texas (which is an excellent place to be “from”), but that’s not why I am partial to him. Delbert is one of the best blues artists you can hope to find. Though he is equally at home playing country or rock, blues is what he does the best.

I really discovered Delbert in the late 1960s and early 1970s when I frequented honkytonks in Fort Worth, Texas to hear him play. My Momma would roll over in her grave if she knew I went to a place like The Red Parrot. These were bars where there was often chicken wire strung up in front of the stage to protect the bands from flying beer bottles thrown by rowdy drunks. You thought that was just a joke in a Blues Brothers Movie, but it was true. I was never one of the rowdy drunks (I was a quiet one).

As Delbert and his band played on the elevated stage, we all danced on the floor below looking up at him. Delbert always was a great showman, and he had a habit of looking women in the eyes as he sang. More than one man got jealous as the women swooned at Delbert’s feet. You can watch this video of Delbert playing on Austin City Limits to see why. Yeah, he’s all sweaty, but we didn’t care.

If you are familiar with Delbert McClinton, you might have heard that he taught John Lennon to play the harmonica. That is just an urban legend that he debunks in this interview with Bruce Chanel. It makes me sad to watch it, because my hero has turned into an old guy!

Several years ago, I was hanging around with a friend who was a reporter with the Fort Worth Star Telegram. She got me a back stage pass to the Bedford Blues Festival. You will never guess who was playing.

How did you know? Yes, it was Delbert! I got the chance to meet him, though I didn’t get to really talk to him. I was awe-struck in his presence. I had only seen him on stage, and I was pretty surprised to find that the man is about four inches shorter than I am. I had always imagined that he was a “long, tall Texan.” He always seemed like such a giant on those elevated stages. I was introduced to him and got to shake his hand.

I looked down at him, and the only thing my mouth would say is, “Mr. McClinton, I sure look up to you.”

He just grinned and said, “Why, thank you, ma’am.” Then, he went back on stage to play.

I don’t care how tall the man is. In my eyes, he’s still a giant.

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NEXT UP: My post about my first experiences with music education!


This Eclectic Life said...

OK, Baby, I just posted to tell people to come over here, read, donate...etc.

Jessica Morris said...

Sorry ... that sweaty man does *nothing* for me!! =)

The Rock Chick said...

Thank you, Shelly!!! Love you!!!

Jessica...awwww, c''s rock star sweat!!!! it's ok!!!!

JAM said...

That's still a cool video of Delbert on Austin City Limits, BUT, It needs more cowbell.

I loved the interview you found Shelly, did you notice that the pics with the Beatles was the Pete Best era Beatles!