In 1992 Delbert McClinton recorded Tell Me About It with Tanya Tucker and reached number 4 on the American country charts. That’s his highest chart position for a single, while he has had four number one albums on the blues charts. He was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. November 4th Delbert McClinton is 73 years old.
Some artists have one song that stands above the rest of their songs, and they will always be remembered by it. With Delbert McClinton there are so many songs, both his own and others’, that it is difficult to pinpoint one. If I had to choose one of his songs, it must be When Rita Leaves or Living It Down, both songs written together with Gary Nicholson.
But first of all, Delbert McClinton is to me a singer of great songs with a voice that surpasses most others. The last time I saw him, in 2009, at 69 years old he still had that smooth, but at the same time raspy voice that gets to you with the effortless way he sings his songs. Delbert McClinton is like a good wine, the older, the better.
If you want to put a label on Delbert McClinton, I can quote Wikipedia, that states that he is an artists who can be placed in the following genres: Americana, blues rock, electric blues, roots rock, country. Personally I am not concerned about these labels, they are more confusing than enlightening. To me they together means “good music”, and Delbert McClinton is one of the foremost performers of this good music.
The first time I saw him play was at Bergen Fest in 2003. NRK P1 recorded his concert, and he was in top shape with his excellent band. He liked the recording so well that he bought the master and it was released the same year as a double CD, Live!, on his record company New West. The CD was nominated for a Grammy, but didn’t win. It got great reviews, though, deservedly, I might add, even if I might be a bit biased, since I was responsible for the recording as head of music at NRK P1.
Delbert McClinton singing a duet with the Norwegian singer ORBO
Delbert McClinton’s next CD, The Cost Of Living, from 2005, earned him a Grammy, and it reached number one on the Billboard’s blues chart. Nothing Personal, Room To Breathe and Acquired Taste also reached number one on this chart, all of them released between 2001 and 2009, while One Of The Fortunate Few from 1997 reached number 2. He also has had top 5 albums on the indie chart and several top 20 placements on the country chart.
The next time I saw Delbert McClinton was in 2004, at La Zona Rosa in Austin, Texas. Then I saw him the Notodden Blues Festival in Norway in 2005, in 2007 and twice in 2008, at Bergen Fest again and at the Skaanevik Blues Festival, and the last time so far at the Blues In Hell in 2009. Every time he has delivered great concerts, with his band. It is also fascinating that he truly enjoys himself on stage. After a career of over 50 years, that is definitely a feat, to be able to give the audience your best every time.
I wish Delbert McClinton a happy birthday November 4th and many more to come.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written prmission.