Har­ri­son Marsh con­tin­ues his study of the world’s great­est slide gui­tar play­ers. This month, Lit­tle Feat’s mas­ter of the groove, Low­ell Ge­orge.

Guitar Techniques - - CON­TENTS -

Har­ri­son Marsh ex­am­ines the tone­ful coun­try­blues style of Lit­tle Feat’s Low­ell Ge­orge.

De­spite earn­ing huge re­spect from fel­low mu­si­cians and those in the know, Low­ell Ge­orge re­mains largely ig­nored by pos­ter­ity. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing lead vo­cals and slide gui­tar to seven al­bums as a found­ing mem­ber of Lit­tle Feat, he also worked as a pro­ducer for artists in­clud­ing the Grate­ful Dead, as a suc­cess­ful ses­sion player, as part of Zappa’s Moth­ers Of In­ven­tion and as a solo artist. All this in a ca­reer that ended with his death in 1979 aged just 34, af­ter a life of al­co­hol and drug mis­use.

Af­ter Low­ell Ge­orge left the Moth­ers, Lit­tle Feat formed and re­leased their first al­bum in 1971.Ten­sions of­ten ran high and the group dis­banded in ’79 shortly be­fore Ge­orge’s death (much later they would re­form with a new line-up). Yet de­spite rocky re­la­tion­ships and Low­ell’s frus­tra­tion with the mu­sic in­dus­try, Lit­tle Feat cre­ated a unique sound, mix­ing gen­res and in­flu­ences.

The seven stu­dio al­bums recorded with Ge­orge show an evo­lu­tion in style and di­rec­tion and ex­plore in­flu­ences from rock and roll, R&B, coun­try, funk and jazz and are tes­ta­ment to Low­ell’s tal­ents; no won­der Jimmy Page called Lit­tle Feat his favourite Amer­i­can Band. De­spite never achiev­ing huge com­mer­cial suc­cess, Wait­ing For Colum­bus is widely re­garded as a bril­liant live al­bum and highlights Ge­orge’s tal­ents as a slide player as well as Lit­tle Feat’s wide-rang­ing sound.

Ge­orge’s slide tone was in­stantly recog­nis­able and a key in­gre­di­ent in early Lit­tle Feat songs in­clud­ing Dixie Chicken and Rock And Roll Doc­tor. Run­ning his gui­tar through twin stu­dio com­pres­sors pro­duced a smooth tone with al­most in­fi­nite sus­tain. He also al­most ex­clu­sively tuned to open A (E-A-E-A-C#-A) as in all of our ex­am­ples.

The range of Ge­orge’s slide play­ing re­flects Lit­tle Feat’s eclec­ti­cism, being equally at home with slow melodic lines, sub­tle rhythm ideas and impressive, high-en­ergy flur­ries of phras­ing, all the while main­tain­ing an in­stantly recog­nis­able voice.

There’s a lot to be learnt from Low­ell Ge­orge for any slide player who wants to in­cor­po­rate a va­ri­ety of styles while al­ways re­main­ing taste­ful and mu­si­cally rel­e­vant.

NEXT MONTH Har­ri­son stud­ies his name­sake, the melodic mas­ter that is Ge­orge Har­ri­son

de­spite rocky re­la­tion­ships within the band, lit­tle feat cre­ated a unique sound mix­ing gen­res and in­flu­ences

Low­ell Ge­orge: mas­ter of slide feel and groove

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