Lowell George (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
Lowell George, the man behind a decade of rock music with the seminal band Little Feat, died 35 years ago this week. Little Feat never had a hit single, but the band kept turning out solid album rock that found a home with a small but highly devoted fan base. One of those fans, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, said in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview that Little Feat was his favorite American band.
From 1969 until his death in 1979, George led Little Feat as they pushed the limits of what could be considered rock ’n’ roll. Through six studio albums – a seventh was completed after his death – and countless live shows, George and Little Feat had a lasting influence on the genre that far outstrips their record sales. Slate.com called them "the most underrated ’70s band to come out of ... the whole country." Rolling Stone readers named 1978's Waiting for Columbus the seventh-best live album of all time. The magazine’s editors called 1974's Feats Don't Fail Me Now "casually virtuosic" and lamented that Little Feat's heyday came decades before the "jam band scene" grew to the popularity of today.
But before Lowell George and Little Feat ever picked up their instruments, George was performing with the decidedly more-commercial band called the Factory. Formed in 1965, George's first band embraced the sound of garage bands at the time. They also embraced television, appearing on F Troop, as "the Bedbugs." Here they are introducing themselves before a gig.
They appeared again in Gomer Pyle, USMC in a couple scenes in a dance club. If you blink, you'll miss them, but their music plays throughout.
After dissolving the Factory, George created music that became much more interesting. He played with Frank Zappa on two albums before leaving to form Little Feat. George spent the last decade of his life writing, recording and touring with his band, before dying suddenly in 1979 while promoting a solo album. He was 34.
Despite his early death, George left behind an enormous body of work as well as fans dedicated to keeping his memory alive.
Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.