About Al Garrett
The 1980s and '90s brought about a blues recording boom that brought some well-deserved attention to veteran blues musicians: People like CeDell Davis, R.L. Burnside, Johnnie Bassett, and Robert "Bilbo" Walker found themselves on the road again, in demand at summer blues festivals and booked on extensive tours of big and small clubs around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Although Al Garrett had been on the Los Angeles club scene since the late '50s, extensive touring under his own name had eluded him, other than in California. Garrett's debut album, Out of Bad Luck, was released in 1999 on the New York City-based Fedora Records. Garrett was born in Memphis, TN, on August 26, 1934. His first exposure to blues came via his father, blues piano player, guitarist, and singer Alfred Garrett Sr. Garrett began playing guitar as a ten-year old, playing along with and learning from his dad. In high school, Garrett got to know B.B. King, who was brought in to perform by WDIA DJ "Professor" Nat D. Williams. Garrett moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1957, and the then-busting-at-the-seams blues club scene provided a safe launch for Garrett's career. That same year, he entered the military and was invited to join a jazz trio as a bassist. After leaving the military, Garrett's talents as a bassist (he had a thorough grasp of guitar techniques by this point) caught the attention of vocalist Roy Brown, who hired him for his road band.
Once off the road, Garrett found plenty of work back home in L.A., accompanying musicians like Pee Wee Crayton, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Smokey Wilson, and Lowell Fulson. Garrett played with Wilson's band for a decade at the Pioneer Club, where people like George "Harmonica" Smith, Pete Lewis, and Rod Piazza would regularly sit in. Garrett recorded in the 1960s with C.C. Griffin for the Allegro, Movin', and Jewel labels, but he didn't record under his own name until he recorded Out of Bad Luck in 1999 for Fedora. Through the 1960s and '70s, Garrett led his own band, Al Garrett & the Rhythm Rockers, an eight-piece group that often included members of Ray Charles' various bands when they weren't out on the road. In the 1980s and '90s, Garrett remained primarily a West Coast blues musician, touring constantly in small clubs. His longtime friend Robert "Bilbo" Walker brought him to the attention of executives at Fedora and, appropriately, Walker plays bass on Out of Bad Luck. Garrett, now nearing 70, is clearly no spring chicken, yet after all these years, on his first album under his own name, he pays homage to the artists who've inspired him throughout his long and varied career, including Magic Sam, B.B. King, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, and Wayne Bennett. He covers familiar blues fare in his own soul-blues style, including tunes like "Blue Shadows Falling," "May I Have a Talk With You," "Last Night," and "Sail On." ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi