Lowell George, Little Feat's front man and founder, passed away on June 29, 1979 and we all miss him and his nasty slide guitar. This writer had the good fortune to see the Fat Man play two nights at New York's famed Bottom Line only days before his fateful passing. Lowell was touring on his first and only solo effort Thanks I'll Eat it Here, a soulful compilation of songs that allowed Lowell to stretch his chops beyond the jazzy, keyboard jams Little Feat were experimenting with at the time (see i.e. "Red Streamliner" or "Day at the Dog Races").
He was a consummate show man and adored the band he tirelessly helped found. He had very little of that "ego" that plagued most rock stars and that was a quality about him that I found most satisfying. He was down to earth, earnest, funny and his performances highlighted this personality trait. He often told the story on stage about a time when he first met Howlin' Wolf. When Lowell finally got up the gumption and courage to introduce himself backstage to the R&B legend and offered him his guitar to play that evening, Wolf's curt response was: "....f#*k off kid!". Needless to say, the audience went nuts!!
His shows with Little Feat were nothing less than electrifying. He would sing a verse, back away from the mic and pull out a glass slide of some sort, and lean his body into a screeching jam that left little doubt about who was the pre eminent guitar player of his era. Then he would casually walk off stage to allow the band to kick it it another gear and then after 5 minutes or so, would scurry back and finish the song without missing a beat. Lowell was picked by Frank Zappa to be a member of the Mothers of Invention before he formed Little Feat. Just for grins, pick up Burnt Weeny Sandwich/Weasels Ripped My Flesh and listen for George's early guitar solos and be prepared to hear the trappings of what would become quintessential late 70's guitar driven rock and roll. What struck me most of Lowell's genius however was not only his guitar playing, but also his efforts at producing albums that embraced his musical universe before it was cool to be into reggae, cajun/creole zydeco, and straight rhythm and soul.