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Lonnie Brooks

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  • Born: Dubuisson, LA
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Long before Lonnie Brooks was headlining major blues festivals and sharing stages with the likes of Eric Clapton, he was forging his bayou-swamp-music-meets-Chicago-blues-via-Texas style. Born Lee Baker, Jr. in Dubuisson, Louisiana on December 18, 1933, he began his career playing everything from rock 'n' roll to country & western and R&B. Originally desiring to play banjo (his grandfather was an accomplished banjo player), Lonnie instead mastered the guitar. His first professional job came when zydeco legend Clifton Chenier saw him playing guitar on his front porch and drafted him into the famous Red Hot Louisiana Band. In the mid-1950s, Brooks, now known as Guitar Junior, cut a series of Gulf Coast proto-rock 'n' roll hits for the Goldband label, now considered swamp rock classics. He hitched a ride with Sam Cooke's touring caravan and got off in Chicago in 1960. Because Chicago already had a Guitar Junior, he changed his name to Lonnie Brooks, and jumped headlong into Chicago blues. He joined Jimmy Reed's touring band, and also recorded singles for Mercury, Chess and other labels in the 1960s, before Capitol released Brooks' first album, Broke And Hungry (under the name Guitar Junior) in 1969.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Brooks performed regularly in some of Chicago's toughest clubs. Although he was forced to perform other artist's hits, he was never without a gig. His big break came in 1978, when Brooks introduced four songs on Alligator Records' Living Chicago Blues anthology. By now he had forged his own sound -- a vibrant mix of rock 'n' roll, R&B, funky Cajun boogie, country twang, and hard Chicago blues, a style his band dubbed "voodoo blues." The success of these recordings led him to a full recording contract with the label and a series of stellar albums, each loaded with Brooks' signature guitar playing and rich, expressive vocals. And, as anyone who has seen him in concert can attest, his live shows are legendary for kick-starting parties and spreading good times like wildfire. "Sheer energy and excitement," raved the Village Voice, "Brooks brings an original brilliance to the blues."


1979 Bayou Lightning (AL 4714)

1981 Turn On The Night (AL 4721)

1983 Hot Shot (AL 4731)

1986 Wound Up Tight (AL 4751)

1988 Live From Chicago - Bayou Lightning Strikes (AL 4759)

1991 Satisfaction Guaranteed (AL 4799)

1996 Roadhouse Rules (AL 4843)

1997 Deluxe Edition (AL 5602)

1999 Lone Star Shootout (AL 4866) w/Long John Hunter & Phillip Walker


"Sheer energy and excitement...Brings an original brilliance to the Blues"


"Brooks bridged country and urban styles with great case, fingerpicking some solos and flatpicking others while his band contrasted smoldering, low-key shuffles with insistent, surging rhythms...piercing guitar breaks full of bent, hammered and sustained notes."


"Brooks' live shows are a joyful paean to the power of the blues. Brooks is equally at home playing rock and roll as he is Blues...six-string fire power...One of the genre's fiercest guitarists."


"A hard-driving contemporary blues-man with a distinctive, high-pitched voice and a penchant for well-crafted lyrics. Even when he's rocking the house down there's a starkness to his sound, and on slower numbers his voice can modulate from loving to desolate. He's one of the relatively few blues artists who can be depended on to put forth all he's got in live performance, and I've never come away from one of his shows disappointed."


"Lonnie Brooks naturally adds an R&B touch to his hard-edged urban blues. Brooks' shouting, growling, and playing drives well placed guitar licks over a tight, no-nonsense rhythm section. Brooks expands on traditional blues forms by adding pop, rock, and funk hooks to keep things interesting. If you like the blues hard, loud, and with a sense of humor, check this out."


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