Multi-Grammy Award winner Delbert McClinton is “One of the Fortunate Few,” who has managed to live his dreams for more than six decades. The stars have aligned for Delbert. Those stars may have leaned toward the blues, but Delbert has managed to keep them on the bright side.
He was born four years after Buddy Holly in the musically fertile grounds of Lubbock, Texas. He cut his teeth on Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys at Lubbock’s legendary Cotton Club. When he was 12, Delbert’s family moved to Fort Worth so his father could work on the Rock Island Railroad.
As a teenager, Delbert had a backstage and front row seat to learn from the masters as his teenage band grew into the house band at Fort Worth’s Jack's Place on the Jacksboro Highway, backing blues legends like Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King, Albert Collins, and Gatemouth Brown.
McClinton earned his first Grammy nomination in 1989 for Live from Austin and his first win in 1991 for his duet with Bonnie Raitt on “Good Man, Good Woman.” The following year, McClinton collaborated on projects with Melissa Etheridge, Tom Petty, and Tanya Tucker, with whom he partnered on the popular, “Tell Me About It.”
McClinton earned two more Grammys and topped the Billboard Blues chart with a series of albums in the 2000s, including Nothing Personal, Cost of Living and Acquired Taste. He teamed up with Clark again for his most recent release, Blind, Crippled and Crazy.
Giving It Up For Your Love: What’s Next
Delbert McClinton has big plans up his sleeve. This is a big year for the multi-Grammy award winner and legendary musician. In November, Delbert turns 75. Live shows have been his focus and bread-and-butter throughout his career.
The music for the new album is new and fresh, and maintains that Delbert McClinton signature. He easily describes what some struggle to define: “Call it blues or country rock or American roots or whatever, but one of the most important things about my songs continues to be that there is always a way out. Nothing I write spirals into the abyss. It’s all ‘I’ll be all right.’ The music is mostly so positive, in that ‘I’ll be okay’… ‘and maybe if’… ‘I’m hoping that’ frame of mind…. I always want to have an uplifting draft in the breeze of the song.”
So what keeps the energy in more than 60 years of music? His incredible musical versatility has been a blessing and a curse. He has managed to stay ahead of the curve – rather than just riding the wave of musical popularity. He has paddled out and caught the wave as it is forming as an innovator in American music.