Bio : Delbert McClinton
“I’ve always been a fugitive from the law of averages.”
Four-time Grammy® Award winner Delbert McClinton celebrates his coming-of-age musical heroes and influences with his 27th studio album, Outdated Emotion (Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers), coming on May 13, 2022. The 19-track collection features Hank Williams, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, and Little Richard standards, as well as five original songs written or cowritten by McClinton.
Delbert has spent much of the COVID isolation in Kevin McKendree’s Rock House Studio in Nashville. This new album brings his music back to where it started. Outdated Emotion pays homage to McClinton’s earliest influences, Hank Williams and Jimmy Reed with a salute to Ray Charles and Little Richard, as well as five of his own compositions, influenced by the sounds of his heroes.
Along with Kevin and his son, musical prodigy Yates McKendree, Delbert has created the album he has often dreamed of.
“I’ve always wanted to do an album of the songs that influenced me the most. Hank Williams songs, Jimmy Reed songs, and songs that I love. And this was the perfect time to do it. It’s important music from another time. It’s music that people need to hear again, or for the first time. Nobody knows about them. Or has forgotten about them. Or was never turned on to them. There is a whole generation, maybe two generations now, who don’t know this music. My whole idea here was to show them how it was and how we got here. Hank Williams, Jimmy Reed, Lloyd Price, Ray Charles. These songs take me to my youth. They are good if not better now than they were then, and they were great then. They are songs people should just get to hear.”
Rolling Stone calls Delbert McClinton the “Godfather of Americana Music.” In a career that has spanned more than six decades, his honkytonk blues sound and signature smooth voice have provided a soundtrack for American music history. He is a four-time Grammy winner (Traditional Blues Album in 2020 for Tall, Dark, and Handsome; Contemporary Blues Album in 2006 for Cost of Living and 2002 for Nothing Personal; and Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1992 for "Good Man, Good Woman"), and received the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Growing up in Lubbock and Fort Worth, Texas allowed Delbert McClinton an early appreciation for the best of 20th century American music, with the songs of postwar America, honkytonk country, and southern blues. Delbert remembers where he was when he heard his first Hank Williams song. And he knew he wanted to play music for a living when he first heard Jimmy Reed.
Leading the house band in the desegregated roadhouses on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Delbert backed Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and other blues legends, while making a name for himself as a regional player in the birth of rock and roll, opening shows for Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and other pioneers of the new sound; and even headlining shows in Great Britain with Bruce Channel (“Hey Baby”), with a little-known Liverpool quartet. The Beatles as the opening act.
In the early 1970s, as his “Two More Bottles of Wine” reflects, Delbert “went out west with a burning desire to set the west coast on fire….” He teamed up with Glen Clark for the Delbert and Glen sessions (Clean Records) and released two critically acclaimed albums before returning to Texas as the progressive country/blues awakening movement was starting to happen in Austin. Hippies and cowboys crowded together on sawdust dance floors watching history in the making as Delbert, Doug Sahm, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freda and the Firedogs and Asleep at the Wheel set the stage for a new sound coming out of Texas. There, Delbert began to develop his signature sound, mixed rocking blues and hardcore country to create the unique style that has served him well through the last half century.
Further solidifying his sound, Delbert went into the famed Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio and called on the Muscle Shoals Horns, who had recorded with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Elton John. They joined his longtime band to create his next album. That signature horn sound has remained a mainstay in Delbert’s music.
When Texas became the rage in New York City, a music venue called the Lone Star Café served as capital of Texas chic. Austin musician Cleve Hatttersley was the manager of the Lone Star. He said, “Everyone who was anyone came through the door on any given night: Mick Jagger, Johnny Paycheck, Tommy Tune. Jerry Garcia… and Delbert was the biggest star of the bunch. Delbert is the absolute heart and soul of Texas rhythm and blues. We had James Brown, George Strait, Elvis Costello… but the one that all the other stars came out to see was Delbert.”
Delbert had succeeded in creating his own genre, a melting pot of American music, and people still cannot get enough of it. From those early days in Fort Worth roadhouses until the recent COVID crisis shut down touring shows Delbert and his band have crossed the country playing festivals, theatres, and iconic music institutions. From Farm Aid to Carnegie Hall, his popularity grew, and Delbert continues as a “musician’s musician,” influencing many artists along the way.
Delbert released Tall, Dark & Handsome, (Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers) in 2019, to celebrate his 79th birthday. The album earned Delbert his fourth Grammy® for Best Traditional Blues Album. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association, and has been featured several times in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s series of live performances, programs and podcasts.
In May of 2021, Delbert announced his retirement from touring. Fans and music journalists speculated about what he would do next. This was to be the first time in 64 years that he was not traveling interstate highways and backroads, playing a rigorous schedule.
Outdated Emotion brings Delbert McClinton full circle to the songs that started it all.