Major Bill, seedy clubs, Davis mansion just a small part of McClinton’s Fort Worth past

Delbert McClinton is kind of a pack rat. The Lubbock-born, Fort Worth-bred musician has been gigging and touring for more than 60 years, from Jacksboro Highway clubs during the 1950s to a show Friday night at Dallas’ Granada Theater. And he has kept a lot of mementos from those days. “For some reason, I thought it was important,” McClinton says during a phone interview. “For what reason, I don’t know. For example, when I moved out to California the first time, I wore a pair of shoes out there that I really thought were really cool. They were black, tan, buckle on the side ... When I quit wearing those shoes, I looked at ’em and I thought, ‘My God, they’re really ugly. I oughta keep those.’ And I did. And I even shoved a hundred-dollar bill down in the toe of one of ’em.” Also on this phone interview is Diana Finlay Hendricks, author of the recently published “Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few,” the first biography of McClinton, who turned 77 in November. You’d expect McClinton’s pack-rat ways to be a gift for any biographer, and according to Hendricks, a veteran Texas music journalist, you’d be right. “I had boxes and boxes of material that Delbert and [current wife] Wendy so graciously sent down to Texas for me to go through, and for about a year and a half, I didn’t see my dining-room table,” Hendricks says. “All kinds of things. Songs written on the back of a Fort Worth Stock Show parking pass. There were telegrams and notes and backstage passes to Carnegie Hall that he saved. That’s any biographer’s dream, to have someone save so much of their own history.” Hendricks’ book follows the eclectic singer-songwriter from Lubbock and Fort Worth through days in Los Angeles, Austin and Nashville, as well the pioneering “Sandy Beaches Cruise,” a blues-rock-country excursion that will celebrate its 25th Continue Reading

Delbert McClinton: Still One of the Fortunate Few

As if Delbert McClinton’s voice wasn’t enough, embued with the grit and soul of a hundred Texas honky-tonks, his bank of memories from the past 60 years would comprise a book you’d want to read.As a matter of fact, you can read that book. Just out is “Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few” by Diana Finlay Hendricks (Texas A&M University Press), a lively biography of McClinton based in part on his own diaries, with details of his adventures growing up in Lubbock and then Fort Worth, Texas, soaking up country swing and jazz, and backing up blues legends such as Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Big Joe Turner on the wild and woolly Fort Worth nightclub scene.Casual fans who know McClinton mostly from his 1991 duet with Bonnie Raitt, “Good Man, Good Woman,” and even some who have been fans since the ’70s might be surprised to know he was once on the bill over the Beatles in England, (when he toured with Bruce Channel playing harmonica on “Hey Baby”), gave John Lennon harmonica tips; played some of Jack Ruby’s nightclubs and saw President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated.This was all before McClinton made a name for himself while at ground zero for the explosion of Austin music in the 1970s.McClinton, 77, who performs at The Ark in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, in American popular culture.Luckily, he was an enthusiastic journal-keeper over the years, starting with that tour of England in 1962 with Channel. Early ’60s pop fans will remember the irresistible harmonica riff that kicks off Channel’s No. 1 1962 hit, “Hey Baby” — and it’s easily found on YouTube, if you don’t.McClinton’s stacks of spiral notebooks were a big help to Hendricks.“Delbert had had all these wonderful journals, and he was generous enough to ship a bunch of stuff down to me in Texas,” Hendricks Continue Reading

Makin Waves with E Street Band’s Garry Tallent

E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent will promote his stellar debut album, “Break Time,” with Q&A session and album signing at 2 p.m. April 24 at Vintage Vinyl, 51 Lafayette Road, Fords section of Woodbridge.To participate, you must order a CD or vinyl copy of the salute to 1950s Memphis rockabilly and New Orleans R&B. You can do so at “Break Time,” as well as info about the Foundation of the E Street Nation, is available at behalf of a crackerjack band with bassist Dave Roe (Johnny Cash), string player Fats Kaplin (Jack White, Beck), pianist Kevin Mckendree (Delbert McClinton), and Los Straightjackets drummer Jimmy Lester and guitarist Eddie Angel, Tallent chatted about “Break Time.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also shared some insights as the only remaining original member of the E Street Band. READ: A review of ‘Break Time’ READ: More Makin Waves Question: Why is now the right time to release ‘Break Time,’ and why haven’t you released a solo album sooner?Answer: Cold feet, simple as that. I really didn’t think it be as well received. I didn’t have any reason to or I would have done it a lot sooner.I always felt whatever I did would be compared to Bruce’s stuff. I didn’t really want that. Bruce is great. I’m a huge fan of him. But what I do is different. It’s a whole different thing. It took me until this age to realize that it’s now or never. So I figured I go out and do it and see what happens, not expecting a top 10 record or big world tour. I was really doing it for myself. Q: Comment on how and why you’re looking forward to connecting with fans at Vintage Vinyl.A: I’m looking forward to meeting the fans. The good thing is that people are seemingly interested in what I’m doing. It’s not just, ‘What Continue Reading

Controversial radio DJ Don Imus shows tolerance of all musical genres in ‘The Imus Ranch Record’

Top-40 radio has always been at its best when it draws music from everywhere, and that's what's so good about "The Imus Ranch Record," volume two. Just released on the New West label, this 13-track CD has rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, gospel, country and several songs that poke around in between. That mostly means it reflects the taste of the gent who compiled it, WABC (770 AM) morning man Don Imus. Whatever the genesis, it's a record you can just plumb sit down and listen to. All proceeds, as with volume one, go to the Imus Ranch in Ribera, N.M., where every summer Imus and his wife, Deirdre, host groups of children with cancer or blood disorders, or who have lost siblings to SIDS. That's all good. The music, though, is the best argument to own this CD. It kicks off with country-roots guy Jamey Johnson singing Meat Loaf, making "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" sound wistful and almost genuinely apologetic, instead of gloriously bombastic. Elizabeth Cook's "You Move Too Fast," Hayes Carll's "King of the Road" and Charlie Robison's "My Hometown" keep it country. The fine "Part Time Love" by the Phantom Blues Band falls between R&B and blues, and the other tracks cover the map in the best way possible. The Blind Boys of Alabama sing "You Can't Be a Beacon" as straight gospel. Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, who still has an amazing voice, takes things more lightly than usual on Dan Seals' "Bop," and Cheap Trick turns "Don't Be Cruel" into a rockabilly workout - emphasis on rock. Kinky Friedman's "Lover Please" sounds better than Kinky has sounded in years. Adam Duritz of Counting Crows does a nice, faithful rendition of Warren Zevon's "Carmelita," simultaneously hilarious and chilling. The wild card - as in, "Exactly how did this song get here?" - is the Newbeats' "Bread and Butter." But then, a lot of people asked that same question when it was a radio hit in 1964. The answer this time is simple: Imus loves it, and this is Imus' record. Continue Reading

Don Imus has gone country for charity

As WABC morning host Don Imus releases an all-star compilation CD to raise money for his cancer kids' ranch in New Mexico, he says he's also keeping his promise on the radio: finding ways to help black and white folks talk to each other. "The conversation is difficult," he says. "But it's something we need to have. We don't because I think too many people are just afraid of saying the wrong thing." He acknowledges he knows something about that, since an ill-advised crack about the Rutgers women's basketball team got him fired from WFAN in April 2007. He's rebounded on WABC (770 AM), where his show is in the top 10 and he now has more affiliates, 50-plus, than he had before. But he's equally pleased with "The Imus Ranch Record" (New West), a 13-song CD he conceived in 2005. It finally comes out Tuesday and it's unlike anything else out there, featuring mostly familiar old songs done country-style by artists like Willie Nelson, Lucinda McWilliams, Levon Helm and Vince Gill. "My original thought was to pick a bunch of artists I liked, doing songs I'd like to hear them sing," he says. "I always thought Willie Nelson would sound great singing 'What a Difference a Day Makes.' So I started asking, and pretty much everyone agreed." When he asked Delbert McClinton if he'd do Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally," for instance, he says the negotiations went like this. "I knew Delbert liked the song, so all I said, was, 'Don't f- it up.' And he said, 'Don, I think I know how to make a f-ing record.' " Gill sings the Porter Wagoner standard "A Satisfied Mind," and Lucinda Williams does a great gravelly take on "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Levon Helm, an Imus favorite, sings "You Better Move On," a classic Arthur Alexander tune. "A lot of people have done it," says Imus, "including the Rolling Stones. I don't care much for their version, but Levon really nailed it." Coming in from far left field are Big & Rich singing the Continue Reading

N.Y. stations and disc jockeys win on-air honors

New York stations picked up a wide assortment of prizes in the annual Radio & Records awards last weekend. WCBS-FM (101.1) won the station of the year award for classic hits/oldies. WQHT (97.1 FM) won the team of the year award in the new "mix show" category. Julie Gustines of WRKS (98.7 FM) won music director of the year in urban adult contemporary and Morgan Prue of WLTW (106.7 FM) won for music director in adult contemporary. Big Boy, whose syndicated morning show is on WQHT, won personality of the year in the rhythm division. Outside the city, ex-WHTZ morning co-host Ross Brittain won oldies morning show personality of the year. He's now at WOGL in Philadelphia. UNHAPPY NEWS: The newsletter Radio Facts reports that Hank Spann, one of the defining voices of WWRL (1600 AM) in its glory years, is not doing well. Spann suffered a stroke this year. Radio Facts says friends and well-wishers can contact his family at 1029 Geary St., Apt. 62, San Francisco, CA 94109. IMUS RECORD SCORING: "The Imus Ranch Record," which features an unlikely crew of artists singing mostly country-style songs, has become an unlikely hit. It debuted at No.59 on the Billboard album chart, which is impressive for a record that gets little radio promotion outside of Imus' own show, which is heard on WABC (770 AM). It hit No.1 on Amazon, where it's dueling with new CDs by two obscure bands called Coldplay and Metallica. Like the music on Imus' show, "The Ranch Record" stemmed 0% from research and 100% from what Imus likes, which is Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Patti Loveless, Bekka Bramlett, Delbert McClinton, Lucinda Williams and others. The record is downright refreshing and just plain good. It's nice to see that can also sell. AROUND THE DIAL: The ratings service Arbitron and stations critical of its new Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings technology engaged in heated sparring last week as critics asked the FCC to investigate where PPM is Continue Reading

John Gambling return pays off for WOR

It's still early, but WOR (710 AM) is hearing some good news about its decision to bring back John Gambling as morning host. In Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings for May, Gambling averaged 5.4% of the audience for third place. It's been a long time since WOR had morning numbers even close to that. Specifically, it was in 2000, when WOR abruptly decided to end the 75-year Gambling morning dynasty by not renewing his contract. Gambling immediately moved to WABC (770 AM), where he had a successful run before getting terminated in a company-wide cost-cutting this year. WOR rehired him and has heavily promoted the show as the only live local news/talk morning show in town. WABC's Imus is nationally syndicated. People-meter ratings won't be the official "currency" of city radio until fall, but while they still stir controversy, there's general agreement they're the future. So a good people-meter score is encouraging for WOR - and, in fact, for news/talk in general, since WABC is also doing well overall in the meter ratings. BLACK RADIO FILM TONIGHT: "Disappearing Voices - The Decline of Black Radio" will have a final public screening tonight at 7 at the Solidarity Center, 55 W. 17th St. The film traces the history of black radio and warns that today it's taking itself out of the game. The previous screening, on June 21, was standing room only, and there are plans for a DVD release. For more information, visit . SEEKING MAGIC WOMEN: WMGQ (98.3 FM) in Jersey is looking for women who have changed lives or made a difference in their community. Every morning from now through Sept. 5, two names will be announced. The eventual winners will be honored Sept. 23 at the fifth annual "Women Who Make Magic" awards. For info, call Cindy Loniewski at (732) 249-2600. AROUND THE DIAL: That compilation CD to benefit Imus' ranch for cancer kids will be out in September, says Imus. Artists range from Delbert McClinton to Little Richard. ... With the Continue Reading

Countin’ down oldies on 101.1 WCBS-FM’s ‘A to Z Countdown’

Want more variety on the radio? Well, if you don't mind hearing it alphabetically, check out the "A to Z Countdown" that starts this morning at 9 on WCBS-FM (101.1). The station is counting down its "entire music library" from now through next weekend. Program director Brian Thomas says that includes about 3,000 songs, from "ABC" by the Jackson Five to "Zorba the Greek." There will be plenty of favorites like the Beatles and Elton John, says Thomas, and a good number of "oh, wow" songs you just don't hear that often. He figures the first cycle will be finished sometime Friday, then it will repeat one more time. WCBS-FM, which has seen a big rebound in the ratings since it dropped the Jack format to return to "Greatest Hits," features music from the '60s and '70s, with an occasional tune from before and after. TELL ME MORE: WNYC (820 AM) introduces a new show today: Michel Martin's "Tell Me More," which will be heard 2 to 3 p.m. daily. It's a National Public Radio news/talk program, with a heavy emphasis on guest interviews. To mark the show's arrival in New York, Martin will broadcast today through Wednesday from Bryant Park. She will also go to Yankee Stadium and revisit her old East New York neighborhood. Martin has an extensive journalism background, including 15 years as a correspondent for "Nightline." LOOKING FOR MAGIC WOMEN: WMGQ (98.3 FM) in Jersey is looking for women who have changed lives for the better or made a difference in their community. Every morning from now through Sept. 5, two names will be announced. The eventual winners will be honored Sept. 23 at the fifth annual "Women Who Make Magic" awards. For info, call Cindy Loniewski at (732) 249-2600. AROUND THE DIAL: Starting tomorrow, WNNJ (1360 AM) in Newton, N.J., will pick up Scott Shannon's  "True Oldies" channel. The station has played adult standards for the past year. ... That compilation CD to benefit WABC morning man Don Imus' ranch for cancer kids will be out in Continue Reading

Imus in mourning? Not really!

Any radio or TV station thinking of hiring former WFAN morning man Don Imus knows he comes with baggage. But some of that baggage is stuffed with cash. That's why, even though everyone is maintaining omerta on his possible next gigs, the speculation game is in high gear. For TV, the most likely candidate seems like Fox. On radio, where he's strongest in the Northeast, he'd presumably prefer a New York station with syndication. Some radio folks say WOR (710 AM) shouldn't be counted out, though most rumors have centered on WABC (770 AM). WABC vice president Steve Borneman didn't entirely dampen them when he told Associated Press, "I've had no conversation with Mr. Imus, and no one at Citadel or ABC has had any negotiation with him." Okay. But that leaves room for conversation or negotiation to begin now that Imus has settled his CBS deal - a possibility not lost on the current morning hosts. Ron Kuby of WABC joked yesterday that if he repeated what Imus called the Rutgers women's basketball team, "Maybe I'd get fired and get a big payout, too." Some critics don't think anyone should hire Imus, period. That's his baggage. But that opposition may not be a deal-breaker, for two reasons: 1) The way radio is fragmented now, no host needs to please everyone. Millions of people would never listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Howard Stern, but they have all thrived because they have a loyal core who do. In March, Talkers magazine estimated Imus' weekly audience at more than 2.25 million, on 61 stations. That puts him around the 10th rung for syndicated hosts, but enough of those listeners are prominent - politicians, media people - that Imus' show gets into a lot of conversations. Which leads us to: 2) Advertisers feel they get good exposure for their money. Ad Age estimated in April that Imus' show earned $15 million-$22 million a year for WFAN alone. That's why CBS was happy to sign him for $8 million a year, and why another station would very likely sign him now. Continue Reading

Don Imus wraps up his last Fox Business show: ‘Ordinarily when I leave these jobs, it’s by police escort’

UPDATE: SEE WHAT DON IMUS SAID TODAY ON HIS LAST SHOW Don Imus marked the end of his Fox Business Network gig Friday with a show that fell somewhere between a farewell wave and a Friars Club roast. "Ordinarily when I leave these jobs, it's by police escort," said the longtime radio and TV personality, who turned 74 last weekend. He stressed several times that he's not leaving the game, noting he just signed a new extension with Cumulus to continue his radio show, which is heard locally on WABC (770 AM). The last TV show featured two taped tributes to Imus, one put together by his producers and the other replayed from Neil Cavuto's Thursday afternoon FBN show. Cavuto's, Imus noted, seemed to largely focus on Cavuto. Both also included commentary from numerous FBN colleagues and past Imus guests. "What a sad day," said Sean Hannity. "If people knew the Imus I knew, you'd be fired again." "Whatever you do, Don Imus," said Bill O'Reilly, "I'm with you maybe 3%." His last guest was his frequent sparring partner from the network, Cavuto. Continuing the tone of their exchanges over the years, Cavuto called Imus "the original shock jock" and said all others should credit him. Cavuto also said he admires how Imus got to the top by being "a total callous schmunk" and that "I admire you" for that. The epitaph for the TV show, Cavuto tacitly suggested, should read, "Don Imus — not dead yet." Imus ended the telecast the way he has ended most of them — by leaving early. In the final studio scene, newsman Connell McShane noted that "we're missing one person," because Imus "got up a minute ago and told me, 'You do it.' " Beyond the interspersed tributes, Imus' final FBN show had a familiar feeling. He was in a good mood, by the standards of Imus moods. He had a mock-argument with Michael Riedel during the "Hollywood & Vine" segments about having to Continue Reading