Little Feat – Celebrates 50 Years And More

Little Feat – Celebrates 50 Years And More by Michelle S.

Little Feat has released 16 studio albums and charted songs on the Billboard 200 in four different decades.  2019 brings up another milestone for the band, they’ll be celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a band.

Sure, there has been some creative differences and lineup changes throughout the years, but one things always stands true and that is their musical style.

Their music is an eclectic blend of rock, blues, boogie, soul, funk and a melting pot of other influences. The current line-up of Little Feat is on tour and working on side projects keeping the band’s legacy alive. Below is a great version of Dixie Chicken, one of their popular tunes.

The Early Years of The Band…

Lowell George met Bill Payne when he was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mother of Invention. Payne had auditioned for the Mothers, but didn’t join. They formed “Little Feat” along with former Mother’s bassist, Roy Estrada and drummer Richie Hayward from George’s previous band, The FactoryThe name of the band came from a comment made by Mothers’ drummer Jimmy Carl Black about Lowell’s “little feet”. The spelling of “feat” was an homage to The Beatles.

There are a lot of stories surrounding the reason why George was let go by Frank Zappa, but one thing stands true, Zappa was instrumental in getting Little Feat a band contract with Warner Brothers Records. 

The first two albums received nearly universal critical acclaim, and “Willin'” became a standard, subsequently popularized by its inclusion on Linda Ronstadt’s album, Heart Like a Wheel.

The Death of George Lowell

Despite good reviews of their sophomore effort, lack of commercial success led to the band splitting up. In 1972, they reformed, and their music had a new sound that leaned more towards New Orleans funk. They recorded Dixie Chicken in 1973 and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now in 1974.

It was during this time that they did session work with other artists such as the Meters, Robert Palmer and Chico Hamilton to name a few. The band remained based in Los Angeles due to doing session work on the side in addition to band activities.  They continued as a band but eventually parted ways again. 

George released a solo album, Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here, in 1975 through Warner Bros.  It mainly was a covers project for years. In 1979, George collapsed while touring and died. The cause was a heart attack.

As they say, “the show must go on!” They continue performing in different bands and variations of Little Feat. So, you need to check out this amazing band while you can!

This is one act I would like to see in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  They have been eligible for the past 20 years but still, they haven’t appeared on a ballot. This is quite baffling!  

Little Feat is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary

Four decades after the George era came to a screeching halt, Little Feat is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its birth and Payne is considering what has changed the most since those heady days. It takes him a while to answer; he wants to be sure he words his response correctly.

It’s a realization, honestly, of who we are,” he finally says. “We’ve gotten older; things have settled down in some ways and, in others, they haven’t. One of the things that has not fallen by the wayside is the quality of music we’re putting out. There’s a thread of consistency. [When Little Feat started], we didn’t exactly know who or what we were. Lowell and I both had aspirations of being in a band that was maybe not a household name, but would be known by other musicians, which absolutely came true. But in terms of looking at it over a 50-year period, you hopefully grow a little wiser in certain regards. You become a little more—if not a lot more—aware of where you stand in the realm of music that you love.”

Since 2015, Payne has served as the regular keyboardist for the “Doobie Brothers”, a gig that keeps him busy throughout much of the year. For 20 years, Barrere and Tackett have played together as, simply, the “Paul and Fred Acoustic Duo”, and Barrere has a project he calls “Better Daze” with musician Roger Cole. More recently, Barrere, Gradney, Tackett and Ford have played events as “Funky Feat.”  The 50th Anniversary Tour has dates through September.  You can go to their web-site for more information.


Credits: Relix Magazine- Quote / Tour info.