On this day in 1940, Delbert McClinton was born in Lubbock, Texas. McClinton has earned respect -- but not much commercial success -- in the music industry by playing a hybrid of R&B, blues, rockabilly and country music.
McClinton became an expert harmonica player in his youth, learning from blues legends who played the Texas honky-tonk circuit. In the late '50s, his band, the Straightjackets, was the house band at Jacks, a popular Fort Worth, Texas, nightclub where it played behind the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Joe Turner.
In 1960, McClinton crossed color lines by scoring a regional hit on black-music stations with a cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Wake Up Baby." McClinton began to make a name for himself beyond Texas by playing harmonica in 1962 on Bruce Channel's hit, "Hey Baby." While touring England with Channel, McClinton gave harmonica pointers to John Lennon. (The Beatles opened some shows for Channel.)
In the first half of the 1960s, McClinton headed the Ron Dels, who had a minor U.S. hit in 1965 with "If You Really Want Me To, I'll Go." In the early '70s, McClinton and Glen Clark formed the duo Delbert and Glen and released their eponymous debut LP in 1972. The duo didn't have much success, so McClinton began recording solo LPs for ABC Records in 1975. In 1978, Emmylou Harris had a #1 country hit with McClinton's "Two More Bottles of Wine." The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi of "Saturday Night Live") also recorded McClinton's "B Movie Boxcar Blues."
The Jealous Kind (1980) gave McClinton a top-10 hit of his own with "Giving It Up for Your Love." McClinton spent the ensuing years issuing albums of varying quality, always changing record labels.
McClinton's 1989 Live From Austin was nominated for a Best Contemporary Blues Grammy Award. In 1991, McClinton won a Grammy for his duet with Bonnie Raitt on "Good Man, Good Woman" (RealAudio excerpt). That same year, he issued Best of Delbert McClinton. Two years later, his duet with Tanya Tucker, "Tell Me About It," was nominated for a Grammy in the country category.
In 1997, McClinton issued One of the Fortunate Few, which featured contributions from such varied artists as Lyle Lovett, B.B. King, Pam Tillis, Lee Roy Parnell, Vince Gill, John Prine, Mavis Staples, Patty Loveless and Benmont Tench. The LP featured such tracks as "Old Weakness (Coming On Strong)" and "Better Off With the Blues."
Other birthdays: Harry Elston (Friends of Distinction), 60; Tom Greenhalgh (Mekons), 42; and James Honeyman-Scott (The Pretenders), 1957-1982.