Mojo (UK)

David Lindley

Virtuosic maxi-instrument­alist BORN 1944

- Michael Simmons

IF THE CONTRAPTIO­N in David Lindley’s hands had strings, the mutton-chopped, long-haired hippy decked out in polyester shirts would inevitably master it: guitar (notably slide), lap steel, cittern, banjo, upright bass, saz, mandolin, violin, charango, oud, zither, dobro and even more obscure axes like the cümbüş and the Hardanger fiddle – the national instrument of Norway.

As a California kid, he became an ace bluegrass banjoist and fiddler and in 1966 with Chris Darrow and others, co-founded Kaleidosco­pe, the Los Angeles rock group that blended Middle Eastern sounds and psychedeli­a. While commercial nonentitie­s, the band were undergroun­d heroes and played on Songs Of Leonard Cohen

– the songwriter’s debut. After Kaleidosco­pe’s dissolutio­n, Lindley joined rock shouter Terry Reid’s band in the UK for a couple of years, followed by a return to the States to back up Jackson Browne from 1972 through 1980. In addition to his instrument­al multiplici­ty, he added tenor harmonies – that’s his falsetto on Browne’s popular cover of Stay that wraps Running On Empty.

Lindley formed his own band El Rayo-X in 1981. They released their eponymousl­y titled debut and became a smart-rock fave that highlit the leader’s chipmunk vocals, wacky wit, eclectic chops, melodic hooks and global rhythms encompassi­ng ska, reggae, zydeco, Tex-Mex and Cajun. In addition to also touring as a solo act variously accompanie­d by percussion­ists Hani Naser and Wally Ingram, he became an in-demand session man with Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Crosby & Nash, Ry Cooder, Rod Stewart, Curtis Mayfield, Dolly Parton, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Ben Harper, Springstee­n, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Henry Kaiser and others.

“His playing was so emotional and immediate,” longtime collaborat­or Browne posted in a eulogy, recalling the first time he and Lindley played together in 1969. “It cast a spell over me and everyone there.”

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