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Little Feat

Little Feat
Performing at Stockholm JazzFest'09 in July 2009
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Southern rock, blues rock, roots rock, funk rock, jazz funk, jazz rock, boogie rock, country rock, jam rock, swamp rock,[1] Americana
Years active 1969–1979, 1987–present
Labels Rhino, Warner Bros., CMC International, Tower, Hot Tomato Imprint
Website .net.littlefeatwww
Members Bill Payne
Paul Barrere
Sam Clayton
Kenny Gradney
Fred Tackett
Gabe Ford
Past members Richie Hayward
Lowell George
Roy Estrada
Craig Fuller
Shaun Murphy

Little Feat is an American keyboardist Bill Payne in 1969 in Los Angeles.

Although the band has undergone several changes in its lineup, the music remains an eclectic blend of rock and roll, blues, R&B, boogie, country, folk, gospel, soul, funk and jazz fusion influences.

Guitarist Jimmy Page stated Little Feat was his favorite American band in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview.[2]


  • History 1
    • Formative years 1.1
    • Classic line-up and change of direction 1.2
    • Death of Lowell George and band breakup 1.3
    • The Craig Fuller years (1987–1993) 1.4
    • The Shaun Murphy years (1993–2009) 1.5
    • Hayward illness and death 1.6
    • 2012 and beyond 1.7
    • Legacy 1.8
  • Personnel 2
    • Members 2.1
    • Lineups 2.2
  • Timeline 3
  • Discography 4
    • Studio albums 4.1
    • Live albums 4.2
    • Compilation albums 4.3
    • Videos 4.4
    • Singles 4.5
    • Guest singles 4.6
  • Annual band excursion to Jamaica 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Formative years

Lowell George met Bill Payne when George was a member of Fraternity of Man whose claim to fame was the inclusion of their "Don't Bogart Me" on the million-selling Easy Rider film soundtrack. The 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 three stories about the genesis of Little Feat. One has it that George showed Zappa his song "Willin'," and that Zappa fired him from the Mothers of Invention, because he felt that George was too talented to merely be a member of his band, and told him he ought to go away and form his own band. The second version has Zappa firing him for playing a 15-minute guitar solo with his amplifier off. The third version says that Zappa fired him because "Willin'" contains drug references ("weed, whites and wine"). George often introduced the song as the reason he was asked to leave the band. On October 18, 1975 at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester New York while introducing the song, George commented that he was asked to leave the band for "writing a song about dope".[3]

The band in 1975

In any version, Zappa was instrumental in getting George and his new band a contract with Sailin' Shoes, which was also the first Little Feat album to include cover art by Neon Park, who had painted the cover for Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

Sometime during the recording of the first two albums, the band members along with ex-Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black ("the Indian of the group") backed soul singer Nolan Porter on his first album, No Apologies.

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.

Despite good reviews of their sophomore effort, lack of commercial success led to the band splitting up, with Estrada leaving to join Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, although he has given other reasons for quitting the band, such as to get away from the Los Angeles pollution and the L.A. city life; however, he has also been convicted thrice of child molestation in 1977, 1994 and 2012 and is now serving a 25-year jail sentence for molesting a child under 14.[4][5]

Classic line-up and change of direction

In 1972 Little Feat reformed, with bassist Hollywood High School in California, and percussionist Sam Clayton (brother of session singer Merry Clayton and the brother-in-law of the late jazz saxophonist Curtis Amy) and as a result the band was expanded from a quartet to a sextet. Both Barrere and Clayton added vocals on many songs, although all the band members provided backing vocals in various tunes.

L to R: Lowell George, frontmen for Little Feat, 1972–1977

This new lineup radically altered the band's sound, leaning toward New Orleans funk. The group went on to record Dixie Chicken (1973)—one of the band's most popular albums, which incorporated New Orleans musical influences and styles—as well as Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974), which was a studio-recorded attempt to capture some of the energy of their live shows. (The name of the latter album pays homage to the Fats Waller song.)

In 1973, Payne, Gradney, Barrere, Clayton and George (incorrectly credited as George Lowell) collaborated with renowned jazz drummer

While touring in support of his solo album in June 1979, at the age of 34, George collapsed in his hotel room in Arlington, Virginia. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a Lowell George]

The surviving members finished and released Down on the Farm before disbanding in 1979. A subsequent retrospective double album compilation of rare outtakes and live tracks, Hoy-Hoy!, was released in 1981. The album is an overview of the history and sound of Little Feat and includes a cover of the Hank Williams song "Lonesome Whistle".

Barrere, Clayton, Gradney and Hayward performed several shows as Barrere, Clayton, Gradney and Hayward in 1981 and 1982.[9]

Barrere then released two solo albums, 1983's

The Craig Fuller years (1987–1993)

In 1986 Richie Hayward, Paul Barrere and Bill Payne were invited to play on Blue Slipper, the 1987 debut album by Helen Watson. They subsequently appeared on her second album The Weather Inside. The surviving former members of Little Feat then reformed in 1987 when Barrere, Clayton, Gradney, Hayward and Payne added songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Craig Fuller, formerly from the band Pure Prairie League, and Fred Tackett on guitar, mandolin and trumpet. The band admired Fuller's previous work and were impressed when he toured with them in 1978 as part of the Fuller/Kaz band. They didn't require an audition, having played with him on tour, and thus, the new Little Feat lineup was formed. The initial release by the new lineup, Let It Roll, was a tremendous success and Fuller's presence proved to be a major factor. His strong vocals and songwriting abilities were showcased, co-writing 8 of the 10 songs and handling a large share of lead vocals. The first single, "Hate to Lose Your Lovin'", earned the band their first No. 1 hit on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. All Music Guide critic Stephen Erlewine stated " What's surprising about Let It Roll is not just that it works, but that it works smashingly." The LP garnered Feat a certified gold record status on February 14, 1989. On the heels of this success, previous Feat releases experienced a sudden surge in sales. The February 10, 1978 live release Waiting for Columbus went certified platinum on November 8, 1989. Dixie Chicken, originally released on January 25, 1973, went certified gold also on November 8, 1989. The band received more exposure than ever, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Concerts were booked nationally and Little Feat played enthusiastic, sold-out shows. Barrere, Payne and company were pleased by the audience reaction; not only were they able to put over the Feat classics, but the new music proved to be artistically and commercially successful. While some Little Feat diehards initially had difficulty accepting the band without Lowell George, the success of Little Feat with Fuller could not be disputed. The band made a comeback that introduced a whole new generation to Little Feat and reignited their past - even though their original creative genius (George) was no longer around.

The follow-up album, White Sands, which contained one song by Little Feat called Quicksand and Lies, but this label folded soon afterwards and Little Feat moved from one label to another until the establishment of Hot Tomato Records in 2002.

In the fall of 1991, Clayton was forced to miss several tour dates due to ill health.

Fuller departed in 1993, stating that touring required too much time away from his family. He went on to join a re-formed Pure Prairie League, who in 2005 released their critically acclaimed All in Good Time, which heavily featured his songwriting, singing and acoustic guitar. Up until leaving PPL again in 2011, he performed about 40 shows yearly with them, as well as occasional shows with Little Feat in addition to performing solo shows.

The Shaun Murphy years (1993–2009)

Craig Fuller was replaced by Shaun Murphy in September 1993. Shaun had sung on all of the recent Little Feat albums and throughout 1993 she had toured as part of Bob Seger's band with Fred Tackett and Bill Payne.

Shaun's first album with the group was Ain't Had Enough Fun. As well as having material specifically written for her, for increasing fan draw attracted to her hard-edged powerhouse voice, further albums, Under the Radar and Chinese Work Songs saw Murphy become an integral part of the group sharing lead vocals and writing with Payne and Barrere. Her rendition of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh" was first recorded in studio on Chinese Work Songs, and became a favorite in live appearances with Murphy as lead singer prior to her departure in 2009. After recording five studio albums and performing over 1,400 concerts with the band, Murphy's position was made redundant, and the group pared down to a six-piece collective entity. Shaun would subsequently form the Shaun Murphy Band, with a specific blues-oriented niche. As of May 2011, Shaun had released two albums and returned to take her place with the Silver Bullet Band in the 2011 tour of Bob Seger, in addition to many scheduled live appearances with the Shaun Murphy Band, one of which was to release a third album and DVD, Live in Detroit.

Hayward illness and death

In August 2009, Richie Hayward announced that he had recently been diagnosed with a severe liver disease and would be away from work indefinitely.[10] A benefit concert was organized[11] and a website created where fans unable to attend could donate toward his treatment costs. Little Feat announced that their drum technician Gabe Ford would take his place.

Hayward married and was living on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, with his liver cancer in remission as he awaited a transplant. On Sunday, July 11, 2010, Little Feat played at the Vancouver Island Music Fest and Hayward was slated to play just a couple of tunes, but once he sat behind his kit, he finished out the night. Hayward had intended to return to the band in the event of recovery, but he died on August 12, 2010, from pneumonia and complications from lung disease.

2012 and beyond

In June 2012, Little Feat released their first album of new material in nine years, Rooster Rag.

In 1994 Paul Barrère was diagnosed with Hepatitis C virus. In 2013 he took a leave of absence from touring with Little Feat to combat the disease and to remain close to his health providers. He has been doing a few one-off gigs with Fred Tackett as an acoustic duo.

In 2014 the band Leftover Salmon announced that Bill Payne has joined with them as a permanent member. Bill Payne is also playing keyboards with The Doobie Brothers on their 2015 tour.


Some of the prominent musicians and bands to play and record the music of Little Feat include Stephen Bruton, Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule Blackberry Smoke and Jimmy Buffett.

In 2008, Little Feat reached their 20th anniversary as a once-again active band, and with just one lineup change since 1988. Jimmy Buffett has been an enthusiastic booster of the band for many years and his private record label was partnered with Feat's Inara George.

Little Feat's songs, "Sailin' Shoes" and "Fat Man in the Bathtub" were featured prominently in the 2010 Edward Norton film Leaves of Grass.

On October 31, 2010, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, the band Phish covered Little Feat's album, Waiting for Columbus, for their annual Halloween show. As a result of this concert and the distribution of its recording, Waiting For Columbus gained recognition from a wider audience among younger listeners.






Studio albums

Live albums

Compilation albums



  • Hate to Lose Your Lovin' (#1 rock 1988)
  • Texas Twister (#1 rock 1990)
  • Let It Roll (#3 rock 1988)
  • One Clear Moment (#10 rock 1989)
  • Shake Me Up (#14 rock 1991)
  • Long Time Till I Get Over You (#19 rock 1988)
  • Woman In Love (#21 rock 1988)
  • Rad Gumbo (#23 rock 1989)
  • Rock & Roll Doctor (#34 rock 1981)

Guest singles

"Bible Belt" (w/Travis Tritt) (#72 country 1992)

Annual band excursion to Jamaica

Since 2003 Little Feat has organised an annual fans' trip to Jamaica, where the full band plays several shows, often with guests, and various members perform solo and duo sets,

Year Dates Solo/Duo shows
1st Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • February 1, 2003 (with Piero Mariani)
  • February 2, 2003 (with Piero Mariani)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (January 31, 2003)
  • Kenny Gradney (February 2, 2003)
  • Fred Tackett with Miles Tackett and Dominic Genova (February 2, 2003)
2nd Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • January 30, 2004 (with Sam Bush)
  • January 31, 2004 (with Sam Bush)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (January 29, 2004)
  • Kenny Gradney with Piero Mariani (January 31, 2004)
  • Richie Hayward (January 31, 2004)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy and Piero Mariani (January 31, 2004)
3rd Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • January 28, 2005 (with Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Miles Tackett and Piero Mariani)
  • January 29, 2005 (with Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Miles Tackett and Piero Mariani)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (January 27, 2005)
  • Richie Hayward (January 29, 2005)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Coco Montoya, Stephen Bruton, Piero Mariani and the Cajun Queens (January 29, 2005)
4th Annual Featfan Excursion Five band shows:
  • January 28, 2006 (with Vince Herman)
  • January 29, 2006 (with Inara George, Piero Mariani, Sam Bush and Vince Herman)
  • February 1, 2006 (with Piero Mariani, Ron Holloway and Coco Montoya)
  • February 3, 2006 (with Piero Mariani, Ron Holloway and Coco Montoya)
  • February 4, 2006 (with Coco Montoya)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (January 27, 2006)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere and Piero Mariani (January 29, 2006)
  • Bill Payne with Shaun Murphy, Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere, Ron Holloway and Piero Mariani (February 2, 2006)
5th Annual Featfan Excursion Four band shows:
  • Fred Tackett, Paul Barrere, Craig Fuller and Vince Herman (January 27, 2007)
  • Craig Fuller (January 29, 2007)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (February 1, 2007)
  • Fred Tackett (February 3, 2007)
6th Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • February 2, 2008 (with Vince Herman)
  • February 4, 2008 (with Vince Herman)
  • Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (February 1, 2008)
7th Annual Featfan Excursion Two band shows:
  • January 24, 2009 (with Piero Mariani and Craig Fuller)
  • January 26, 2009 (with Piero Mariani and Craig Fuller)
  • Craig Fuller, Sam Clayton and Fred Tackett (January 25, 2009)
8th Annual Featfan Excursion Three band shows:
  • March 5, 2010 (with Craig Fuller)
  • March 6, 2010 (with Craig Fuller)
  • March 7, 2010 (with Craig Fuller)
9th Annual Featfan Excursion Three band shows:
  • March 4, 2011 (with Craig Fuller and Ron Holloway)
  • March 5, 2011 (with Craig Fuller and Ron Holloway)
  • March 6, 2011 (with Craig Fuller and Ron Holloway)
  • Bill Payne, Gabe Ford and Ron Holloway (March 6, 2010)
10th Annual Featfan Excursion Four band shows:
  • January 18, 2012
  • January 19, 2012
  • January 20, 2012
  • January 21, 2012


  1. ^ Friedwald, Will (2010), A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers,  
  2. ^ "The Durable Led Zeppelin | Music News". Rolling Stone. 1975-03-13. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  3. ^ "Little Feat Live at Auditorium Theatre on 1975-10-18 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Liner notes to 2002 CD re-release of Waiting for Columbus.
  8. ^ 'Written in My Soul' by Bill Flanagan ISBN 0.7119.2224.1 p.353-63
  9. ^ Steve Keiss. "Featbase Setlists". Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  10. ^ "News". Little Feat. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Pacific Disturbance". Pacific Disturbance. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  12. ^ "October 31, 2010 Setlist ::". Retrieved June 26, 2012. 

Further reading

External links

At this time Warner Bros. released George's only solo album,

[8]) conducted eleven days before his death, George made it clear that he felt the demise of Little Feat was due to his having allowed the band to be run democratically, with the result that Payne and, to a lesser extent, Barrere, had a presence as songwriters and in production which was disproportionate to their abilities. George was particularly scathing about Payne's attempts at jazz/fusion, citing an instance when Payne jammed with Written in My Soul but then declared that Little Feat had disbanded. In an interview with Bill Flanagan (for the book Down on the Farm George did some work on what would eventually become

Death of Lowell George and band breakup George continued to produce the albums, but his songwriting contribution diminished as the group moved into

The release of The Last Record Album in 1975 signaled another change in the Little Feat sound, with Barrere and Payne developing an interest in jazz-rock. Prior to the recording of The Last Record Album, drummer Richie Hayward had a motorcycle accident and the liner to the LP release of The Last Record Album was decorated with copies of his many hospital bills. Also present was evidence of a late change to the running order of tracks: the lyrics for Barrere's song "Hi Roller" were printed on the sleeve, but scored out, and the words "maybe next time" scrawled over them. Sure enough, "Hi Roller" was the first track on the subsequent album Time Loves a Hero.


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