Sunday, September 11, 2005

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, RIP

Not exactly a casualty of Katrina, but pretty much. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown is dead at 81.

Oddly enough, the BBC article says that, according to a biographer, "he never wanted to be called a bluesman." He pretty much told me exactly the opposite.

Back in the late 80s, when I worked at the Regency Showcase nightclub in Springfield, Missouri, I was accustomed to talking with the performers. Brown put me in my place when I asked him if he had ever met, or performed the songs of, Robert Johnson (the timeframe was probably off, but not by a lot, and what the hell, I was young and ignorant).

"Young man," Brown said, "I don't do that pop stuff. I play THE BLUES." And off he walked. I don't know if he thought I was asking about Don Johnson or what. It's hard to imagine a Louisiana bluesman who started his career in the 40s being unfamiliar with the King of the Delta Blues, but whatever. He played a mean set and he was, rightfully, cocky as all hell.

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