Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne & More Perform Lowell George Tribute Concert On This Date In 1979
On June 29, 1979, Lowell George died suddenly of heart failure at the age of 34. Shocked at the unexpected loss of the Little Feat co-founder, the music community banned together to perform a benefit for George’s family at The Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, California 40 years ago today. For this week’s Sunday Cinema, JamBase look back at the star-studded concert, which featured George’s band mates in Little Feat, as well as Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and others.
In the months leading up to his death, George had been focusing on his career as an individual artist and promoting his solo album, Thanks I’ll Eat It Here. Little Feat, on the other hand, had been moving forward with a break-up record (what would become Down On The Farm) with little input from George. At the time, George and fellow co-founder Bill Payne had different ideas in the direction of the band, as Little Feat was leaning more heavily into jazz influences at the expense of the more eclectic sound the late singer and guitarist had favored.
Still, the unexpected loss of their band mate shook the members of Little Feat to their cores, and they quickly mobilized to put together a benefit concert for George’s family, who was dependent on the money brought in from touring. The guitarist and vocalist left behind his wife, Elizabeth George, and his five-year-old daughter, Inara George, who would go on to be one half of the duo The Bird and the Bee as well as sons Luke and Forrest from previous marriages. With proceeds benefitting George’s family, the concert was held on August 4, 1979, just over a month after George’s untimely death.
After the benefit concert was announced, a wide range of stars, including Bob Dylan and the Eagles, reportedly expressed interest in performing for the tribute. However, Payne and Paul Barrere kept the lineup mainly limited to the initially announced artists. They also limited the show to one-night-only, despite the venue’s fast sell-out and the possibility of to expand the show into a run. Regardless, Little Feat still found ways to bring in additional artists as collaborators. Other unannounced musicians who were added into the mix included The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald, Eric Kaz, Craig Fuller, John David Souther, Ted Templeton and the Tower of Power horn section.
Spanning almost three hours, the benefit concert featured each principal artist offering a mini-performance of their own. However, the fluid concert took on a communal vibe, with a wide range of collaborations across the evening. Little Feat’s varied songs all were branded under the name “Little Feat & Friends,” while sit-ins augmented individual artists’ performances to duets or larger.
While many of the song selections were from performers’ original catalog, the night also featured a mix of covers including Nicolette Larson‘s show-opening take on Lee Dorsey’s “Tears, Tears and More Tears” and Emmylou Harris’ celebrated rendition of The Beatles’ “Here, There And Everywhere.” Of course, plenty of Little Feat songs also made the cut, including Linda Ronstadt’s take on “Willin'” and a final performance of “Dixie Chicken,” which featured all the musicians on stage to perform the 1973 track.
Watch a playlist of pro-shot videos from the concert below, courtesy of ClydeJB MusicFan34:
Setlist (via Featbase.net)
Set: “Tears, Tears And More Tears” (Nicolette Larson), “Rhumba Girl” (Nicolette Larson & Linda Ronstadt), “Oh Atlanta” (Little Feat & Friends), “Runaway” (Bonnie Raitt & Michael McDonald), “Here, There And Everywhere” (Emmylou Harris), “For A Dancer” (Jackson Browne), “Running On Empty” (Jackson Browne), “Your Bright Baby Blues” (Jackson Browne), “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (Linda Ronstadt), “Blowin` Away” (Linda Ronstadt & Bonnie Raitt), “All That You Dream” (Linda Ronstadt), “Willin'” (Linda Ronstadt), “Dixie Chicken” (Little Feat & Friends)