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Clarence Gatemouth Brown - dead at 81
September 11, 2005 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Things ain't what they used to be. Blues, jazz, Cajun and country music great Clarence Gatemouth Brown dies at 81. Brown safely evacuated his home in Slidell, but was said to be broken hearted by the devastation wreaked by Katrina on his beloved Louisiana. Alligator bio (sound alert).
posted by madamjujujive (31 comments total)

 
Huge loss.
posted by justgary at 10:54 AM on September 11, 2005


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posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 10:57 AM on September 11, 2005


*salutes*
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on September 11, 2005


This is too bad. I saw Gatemouth play in a crappy little club in Michigan a couple of time in the mid-'80s. Great stuff and he will be sorely missed.
posted by NoMich at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2005


Oh.my.god.

This is just depressing as all hell. He was my guitar hero. I had the privilege of restringing his Firebird once when he played at the Little Bear in Colorado (the same Firebird on the cover of "Pressure Cooker") and he was the definition of cool. I overtuned the high E string not thinking he'd grab it and start playing before I had a chance to double-check it and he didn't miss a beat. Just tuned it in the middle of the song and gave me a big shit eating grin. He gave me 10 autographed posters which was just icing considering all he did for me, guitarwise. Anyone who has a chance, go out right now and buy "Pressure Cooker" just for the song "Cold Strings". You won't be sorry and it's be a great way to remember this guitar-great.

Very sad indeed.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2005


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posted by Rumple at 11:26 AM on September 11, 2005


What a privilege to have interacted with one of the comtemporary legends, KevinSkomsvold. I saw him in concert when I could - amazing shows. Loved that fiddle!
Gatemouth in his own words:
June 2005 interview from Nashville News
1999 interview from Mix online.
1984 interview with Gatemouth from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, School of Music, African American Music Collection.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:29 AM on September 11, 2005


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posted by Smart Dalek at 11:42 AM on September 11, 2005


Not just the guitar, either. He was pretty hot on a fiddle, too. My brother and I saw him a few years back, and it was something else....

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posted by kortez at 11:51 AM on September 11, 2005


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posted by djeo at 12:02 PM on September 11, 2005


" ... in a crappy little club in Michigan ... "

If you ask me, that's the way all blues SHOULD BE seen.

Dodgy clubs on the wrong side of the tracks, lots of smoke, drinking ... that sort of thing.

Did you know there's some venues that don't even allow smoking anymore?

Lord, what has this country come to?

That said, yeah ... big loss.

Fewer and fewer of the originals are left now.
posted by Relay at 12:06 PM on September 11, 2005


Right on the heels of RL Burnside, too. I seriously need to get my kid to a blues show ASAP. I don't want her growing up never having heard them played by one of the greats.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:19 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by fixedgear at 12:36 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by nonmerci at 1:12 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by scody at 1:15 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by maryh at 1:17 PM on September 11, 2005


That's awful. When I stated listening to blues in the early Eighties, it was hard to find many albums in the UK, but a mate of mine had a couple of killers by Gatemouth. We played them to shreds. It's sad and unfair, but in the blues revival that followed the switch to CD from LP, Gatemouth Brown never achieved the popularity of contemporaries such as John Lee Hooker.
posted by MinPin at 1:56 PM on September 11, 2005


I was saddened to hear this, too.

Fewer and fewer of the originals are left now.

If you mean original as pre-war--as in World War II--blues, Robert Jr. Lockwood comes to mind. He played here last year and I missed him because it was not advertised very well at all.

If you stretch original to mean the 50's, then apart from the obvious B.B. King, Pinetop Perkins, Ike Turner and Johnny Otis come to mind as well.

David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Henry Townsend are still alive but I am not sure if they play that much anymore. They are both very old and frail.

I heard a fellow named Terry "Harmonica" Bean at Port Townsend this past August. Louisiana Red--another original who lives and plays in Europe now--was there, too, and had nothing but nice things to say about him. Bean's more second generation than original but he has the sound and feel of the older generation.

Carrie Bell was at Port Townsend, too, but, although he managed to play three songs with his son at the last night's concert, he spent most of his time in the hospital while he was out. Which is par for the course for Port Townsend. They try to feature an original or two per year but these past few years, the originals have been in very poor health and far past their playing prime. Honestly, jrossi4r , your daughter's chances of seeing an original downhome blues musician are just about zero.
posted by y2karl at 1:58 PM on September 11, 2005


just another nail in my hear.

R.I.P.
posted by nola at 3:43 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by Ber at 4:20 PM on September 11, 2005


I saw him with Dr. John a few years ago in Osaka. Rail thin, still dressed in black, despite his age he did his whole show standing up (in contrast to BB King, who sits for most of his show these days); He was still lightning fast on guitar and fiddle. What a great show, what an epitome of cool. Rock on, Gate.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:37 PM on September 11, 2005


I have some great stories about the Bells (Carrie and Lurie). I'll dave them for the obit.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:46 PM on September 11, 2005


Saw Gatemouth in 1992 at at a show in Tallahassee, Florida. Wonderful experience. In the middle of one song, Gatemouth stopped abruptly to spend the next minute trimming his fingernails, all the while smiling at us in the audience bashfully. He picked up the song right where he had left off. That made me smile.

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posted by NationalKato at 5:02 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by dontoine at 6:32 PM on September 11, 2005


David "Honeyboy" Edwards and Henry Townsend are still alive but I am not sure if they play that much anymore. They are both very old and frail.

Dunno about Henry Townsend, but "Honeyboy" Edwards played Calgary last yeat. (I missed it, because I'm a chump.) Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, both of whom date back to '50s Chicago, are still touring.

As far as Gatemouth goes, damn, I gotta get my turntable running again so I can spin Makin' Music. That record ruled.
posted by arto at 7:42 PM on September 11, 2005


So great. RIP.
posted by Wolof at 7:47 PM on September 11, 2005


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posted by cookie-k at 7:55 PM on September 11, 2005


heart*
posted by nola at 8:22 PM on September 11, 2005


In addition to many of those mentioned, here are some other aging blues performers that should be added to any "to see" list. Tho I can't guarantee all are still performing - or even still living!

Blind Mississippi Morris
Eddie Shaw
Luther Guitar Johnson
Magic Slim
Koko Taylor
Big Jack Johnson
Sweet Sam Myers
Etta James
Big Time Sarah
Eddy Clearwater
Bobby Rush

Plus, Taj Mahal, Charlie Musselwhite and John Hammond are all worth seeing, and they are getting up there in years, too.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:18 AM on September 12, 2005


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posted by Vidiot at 8:05 AM on September 12, 2005


Damn. Sad to hear about this - the man was one of the greats.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2005


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