Neon Guitar (Lowell George)

From MOJO The Music Magazine (London, England) June 1996, Issue #31

"The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time":

Number 49 - LOWELL GEORGE

"The best singer, songwriter and guitar player I've ever heard, hands down."
-Bonnie Raitt-

LOWELL GEORGE, the "Orson Welles Of Rock", according to Jackson Browne, referred to his songs as "cracked mosaics", their convoluted chord changes revealing a keen sense of the absurd. "That was the way he built his music," said Neon Park, designer of the classic Little Feat album covers, "building logical networks, then inserting key moments of insanity."

The craziness was always tempered by the cool control of his slide guitar: "He was, along with Duane Allman, one of the most influential slide players around," reckons songwriter John Hall. But where Allman was always rooted in blues, Lowell George could've jammed with Thelonious Monk. After serving time with The Standells and Fraternity Of Man, George spent the summer of '69 in the Mothers, leaving at Zappa's suggestion to form Little Feat with Richie [SIC] Hayward, Bill Payne and Roy Estrada.

The first albums accentuated his quirky songwriting but contained two versions of the classic truckers' anthem, *Willin'*. "Dixie Chicken", with a massive change of personnel, heralded the band's popular acceptance and the increasing suppression of what producer Van Dyke Parks called George's "cartoon consciousness". As the band became more democratic, he lost his taste for the role of spiritual adviser, and, unfortunately, gained a taste for hard drugs; 1977's "Time Loves A Hero" contained just one George 'cartoon', *Rocket In My Pocket*.

His '79 solo debut, "Thanks, I'll Eat It Here", was quirky and entertaining but largely made up of scraps. He died while touring to promote it. Friend Neon Park says, "Ultimately, he was a little misunderstood", but, as Bonnie Raitt attests, "Once you get Feats-itis, you never get rid of it." [by NS aka Neil Slaven]

Guitar: Fender Stratocaster

Highlight: *Fat Man In The Bathtub* from "Dixie Chicken" on Warner Bros. (1973)


 

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