Delbert McClinton Biography

4 November 1940, Lubbock, Texas, USA. This white R&B artist honed his craft working in a bar band, the Straitjackets, backing visiting blues giants such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Reed. McClinton made his first recordings as a member of the Ron-Dels, and was noted for his distinctive harmonica work on Bruce Channel’s ‘Hey Baby’, a Top 3 single in the UK and number 1 in the USA in 1962. Legend has it that on a tour of the UK with Channel, McClinton met a young John Lennon and advised him on his harmonica technique, resulting in the sound heard on ‘Love Me Do’. Relocating to Los Angeles in the early 70s, McClinton emerged in a partnership with fellow Texan Glen Clark, performing country/soul. They achieved a degree of artistic success, releasing two albums before splitting, with McClinton embarking on a solo career. His subsequent output reflects several roadhouse influences. Three gritty releases, Victim Of Life’s Circumstances, Genuine Cowhide and Love Rustler, offered country, R&B and southern-style funk, while a 1979 release, Keeper Of The Flame, contained material written by Chuck Berry and Don Covay, as well as several original songs, including loving remakes of two compositions from the Delbert And Glen period. Emmylou Harris had a C&W number 1 with McClinton’s ‘Two More Bottles Of Wine’ in 1978, and ‘B Movie Boxcar Blues’ was used in the John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd movie The Blues Brothers. His 1980 album, The Jealous Kind, contained his solitary hit single, a Jerry Williams song, ‘Givin’ It Up For Your Love’, which reached the US Top 10. After a rest-period during much of the 80s, this rootsy and largely underrated figure made a welcome return in 1989 with the fiery Live From Austin. His work during the 90s showed no signs of a drop in quality, with 1997’s assured One Of The Fortunate Few arguably his finest recording to date. Now free from major label pressure, it is to be hoped that McClinton’s best work is yet to come.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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