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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Delaney Bramlett: 1939-2008

In one of those weird coincidences, Delaney Bramlett, who I haven't thought of in 30-odd years until coming across his name while researching my article on Catch My Soul, passed away yesterday.

As I mentioned in my follow-up article, both the stage and movie versions of Catch My Soul were populated with regulars from Shindig! Bramlett and his then-wife Bonnie were both members of the series' house band, the Shindogs.  The two would later go on to form Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, a rock-soul fusion group with an ever-shifting lineup that enjoyed more popularity among fellow musicians than it did among the general public.

Among others, George Harrison was an admirer of Delaney, signing the two to Apple.  Unfortunately, Delaney and Bonnie were already under contract to the Elektra label, and nothing ever came of the Apple deal except bad blood between Delaney and Elektra.  However, on the strength of Harrison's recommendation, Eric Clapton booked DB&F as the opening act for his `69 Blind Faith tour. As it turned out, Clapton found that he enjoyed jamming more with Delaney than playing with Blind Faith and ended up as a regular member of DB&F during the following years.

Another Delaney fan, Jerry Wexler, once said that some of the best live music he ever heard was Delaney and Duane Allman jamming on the deck of his home in Long Island. Delaney also co-wrote Superstar with Leon Russell and Let it Rain with Clapton. According to his obituary, he performed, co-wrote, or recorded with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Dave Mason, Billy Preston, the Everly Brothers and Mac Davis at various times during his career.

As I noted in Catch My Soul: The Jerry Lee Lewis and Shakespeare Connection,  Delaney and Bonnie also had something of a side career appearing in weird movies of the early `70s, with and without friends. Their filmography included Vanishing Point, which was at one time my favorite movie but has not weathered the years well at all. While somehow missing out on Mad Dogs & Englishmen, they did appear in the truly awful Medicine Ball Caravan (also known as We Have Come For Your Children in the U.K.) and the much better Festival Express (filmed in the `70s, unreleased until 2003).  And, of course, both appeared in the movie version of Catch My Soul, later renamed to Santa Fe Satan, which should provide an inkling of the film's quality.

After a six-year hiatus, Delaney released his last album in 2008, A New Kind of Blues. While not as well-known as he should have been, Delaney Bramlett's influence extended far beyond mere fame.


Unknown said...

Delaney Bramlett: 1939-2007? I think you mean 1939-2008

Fred@Dreamtime said...

And indeed I did. Thanks for pointing it out. Corrected.