Slacker Logo

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Advertisement
Advertisement

Biography

Whatever you do, don't refer to multi-instrumentalist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as a bluesman, although his imprimatur on the development of Texas blues is enormous. You're liable to get him riled. If you must pigeonhole the legend, just call him an eclectic Texas musical master whose interests encompass virtually every roots genre imaginable. Brown learned the value of versatility while growing up in Orange, TX. His dad was a locally popular musician who specialized in country, Cajun, and bluegrass -- but not blues. Later, Gate was entranced by the big bands of Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington (a torrid arrangement of "Take the 'A' Train" remains a centerpiece of Brown's repertoire). Tagged with the "Gatemouth" handle by a high school instructor who accused Brown of having a "voice like a gate," Brown has used it to his advantage throughout his illustrious career. (His guitar-wielding brother, James "Widemouth" Brown, recorded "Boogie Woogie Nighthawk" for Jax in 1951.) In 1947, Gate's impromptu fill-in for an ailing T-Bone Walker at Houston entrepreneur Don Robey's Bronze Peacock nightclub convinced Robey to assume control of Brown's career. After two singles for Aladdin stiffed, Robey inaugurated his own Peacock label in 1949 to showcase Brown's blistering riffs, which proved influential to a legion of Houston string-benders (Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Cal Green, and many more have pledged allegiance to Brown's riffs). Peacock and its sister label Duke prospered through the '50s and '60s. Gate stayed with Peacock through 1960. The R&B charts didn't reflect Brown's importance (he hit only once nationwide with 1949's two-sided smash "Mary Is Fine"/"My Time Is Expensive"). But his blazing instrumentals ("Boogie Uproar," "Gate Walks to Board," 1954's seminal "Okie Dokie Stomp"), horn-enriched rockers ("She Walked Right In," "Rock My Blues Away"), and lowdown Lone Star blues ("Dirty Work at the Crossroads") are a major component of the rich Texas postwar blues legacy. Brown broke new ground often -- even in the '50s, he insisted on sawing his fiddle at live performances, although Robey wasn't interested in capturing Gate's violin talent until "Just Before Dawn" (his final Peacock platter in 1959). The '60s weren't all that kind to Brown. His cover of Little Jimmy Dickens' country novelty "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" for tiny Hermitage Records made a little noise in 1965 (and presaged things to come stylistically). But the decade was chiefly memorable for Brown's 1966 stint as house bandleader for The!!!!Beat, a groundbreaking syndicated R&B television program out of Dallas hosted by WLAC DJ Bill "Hoss" Allen. When Gate began to rebuild his career in the '70s, he was determined to do things his way. Country, jazz, even calypso now played a prominent role in his concerts; he became as likely to launch into an old-time fiddle hoedown as a swinging guitar blues. He turned up on Hee Haw with pickin' and grinnin' pal Roy Clark after they cut a sizzling 1979 duet album for MCA, Makin' Music. Acclaimed discs for Rounder, Alligator, Verve, and Blue Thumb in the '80s, '90s, and 2000s have proven that Gatemouth Brown is a steadfastly unclassifiable American original. Gatemouth Brown passed away on September 10, 2005 in Orange, TX. ~ Bill Dahl
Read All Read Less

Albums

See All Albums

Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Got My Mojo Working
  3.   Sad Hour
  4.   Okie Dokie Stomp
  5.   Born in Louisiana
  6.   Jambalaya
  7.   Big Mammou
  8.   What a Shame, What a Shame
  9.   Alligator Boogaloo
  10.   Same Old Blues
  11.   Lie No Better
  12.   Somebody Else
  13.   St. Louis Blues
  14.   Going Back to Louisiana
  15.   Chickenshift
  16.   Dixie Chicken
  17.   Strollin' With Bones
  18.   I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)
  19.   Louisiana Zydeco
  20.   Sometimes I Slip
  21.   Guitar in My Hand
  22.   Why Are People Like That
  23.   It All Comes Back
  24.   Swamp Ghost
  25.   Street Corner
  26.   Gate's on the Heat
  27.   Breaux Bridge Rag
  28.   Slap It
  29.   Bogalusa Boogie Man
  30.   Grape Jelly
  31.   Straighten Up
  32.   Hootie Blues
  33.   Black Jack
  34.   We're Outta Here
  35.   Blues Power
  36.   Rock My Blues Away
  37.   Stop Time
  38.   Please Send Me Someone to Love
  39.   Take the "A" Train
  40.   Next Time You See Me
  41.   Real Life
  42.   Frosty
  43.   Better Off With the Blues
  44.   Dollar Got the Blues
  45.   Louisian'
  46.   Folks Back Home
  47.   Long Way Home
  48.   Dangerous Critter
  49.   Jumpin' the Blues
  50.   Mean and Evil
  51.   I Hate These Doggone Blues
  52.   Early in the Mornin'
  53.   Just Before Dawn
  54.   Depression Blues
  55.   Midnight Hour
  56.   It's Alright
  57.   Dirty Work at the Crossroads
  58.   Leftover Blues
  59.   The Peeper
  60.   Boogie Rambler
  61.   Honey in the Be-Bo
  62.   Alligator Eating Dog
  63.   One More Mile
  64.   She Walk Right In
  65.   Ventilator Blues
  66.   Front Burner
  67.   Cool Jazz
  68.   On My Way Back Home
  69.   Louisiana Woman
  70.   Jamboree
  71.   Soft Wind
  72.   Mama Mambo
  73.   Okie Dokie
  74.   Aztec Flower
  75.   Satin Doll
  76.   Gate's Express
  77.   Digging New Ground
  78.   Hurricane
  79.   Unchained Melody
  80.   Bayou Sam
  81.   You Got Money
  82.   I'm Beginning to See the Light
  83.   Gate Walks the Board
  84.   Have You Ever Been Mistreated
  85.   Three Weeks and a Suitcase (Slow Funk)
  86.   Dollar's Got the Blues
  87.   Traveling Mood
  88.   Pale Dry Boogie, Pt. 2
  89.   After the Band Is Gone
  90.   Birmingham
  91.   Amos Moses
  92.   Bayou Stomp