Lee Baker Jr

b. December 18th, 1933 in Dubuisson (Louisiana)

d. April 1st, 2017 in Chicago (Illinois)

THE CRAWL

Charly

1957 - January 1960

Il apprend la guitare auprès de son grand-père banjoïste. Natif de la Louisiane, Lonnie grandit à Port Arthur au Texas et écoute les grands guitaristes texans (Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "T-Bone" Walker, "Long" John Hunter et surtout Guitar Slim. Clifton Chenier embauchera même Lonnie comme guitariste quelques temps. Il démarre sa carrière sous le nom de Guitar Jr en 1957 chez Goldband - un des grands labels louisianais - dans un style orienté R&B - Swamp Pop : "I got it made", "Family rules", "Roll roll roll" puis l'irrésistible "The crawl" (composé par Wayne Shuler), "Goin' crazy baby", "Tell me baby".

He learns guitar from his banjoist grandfather. A native of Louisiana, Lonnie grew up in Port Arthur, Texas and listen to great Texas guitarists (Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "T-Bone" Walker, "Long" John Hunter and especially Guitar Slim). Clifton Chenier will even hire Lonnie as a guitarist for some time. He started his career under the name of Guitar Jr in 1957 at Goldband - one of the great labels of Louisiana - in a R&B - Swamp Pop oriented style : "I got it made", "Family rules", "Roll roll roll" then the irresistible "The crawl" (composed by Wayne Shuler), "Goin' crazy baby", "Tell me baby".

FROM GUITAR JR TO LONNIE BROOKS

Blue Eye blog (mp3)

1957 - 1967

En 1960, il monte à Chicago et change son nom en Lonnie Brooks (Luther Johnson utilisait déjà le pseudonyme Guitar Jr à Chicago). C'est L.C. Cooke (le frère du célèbre chanteur Soul Sam Cooke) qui guide Lonnie dans Chicago l'instroduisant dans divers clubs. Dès lors, il fréquente les clubs du West Side et grave une poignée de simples pour différents petits labels de la ville. Découvert par Al Smith, il trouve l'opportunité de jouer derrière Jimmy Reed (notamment lors de son célèbre concert au Carnegie Hall en 1961 ainsi que quelques faces Vee-Jay). Sur cette sélection conçue par Gérard Herzhaft, on trouve les faces Goldband ainsi que ses premiers simples chicagoans. Ces titres illustrent la métamorphose de Lonnie Brooks, d'un artiste typiquement louisianais en un bluesman complet mêlant habilement Chicago Blues et Swamp Blues. Il grave les vigoureux "Mr hot shot" et "The popeye" pour le label Midas, le superbe "Figure head" pour USA et le producteur Paul Glass, l'instrumental "The train" pour Palos (avec le producteur Mel Collins). Dans une veine plus Soul, Lonnie enregistre aussi deux simples pour Chirrup (l'un des deux est revendu à Chess par son manager Tex Mac Gillis).

In 1960, he moved to Chicago and changed his name to Lonnie Brooks (Luther Johnson already used the Guitar Jr pseudonym in Chicago). It is L.C. Cooke (the brother of the famous Soul singer Sam Cooke) who guides Lonnie in Chicago instructing him in various clubs. From then on, he attended West Side clubs and made a handful of singles for various small labels in the city. Discovered by Al Smith, he finds the opportunity to play behind Jimmy Reed (including his famous concert at Carnegie Hall in 1961 and some faces at Vee-Jay). On this selection designed by Gérard Herzhaft, we find the Goldband sides and his first Chicago singles. These titles illustrate Lonnie Brooks' metamorphosis from a typical Louisiana artist to a complete bluesman cleverly blending Chicago Blues and Swamp Blues. He engraves the vigorous "Mr hot shot" and "The popeye" for the Midas label, the superb "Figure head" for USA and the producer Paul Glass, the instrumental "The train" for Palos (with producer Mel Collins). In a Soul vein, Lonnie also records two singles for Chirrup (one of them is sold to Chess by his manager Tex Mac Gillis).

LIVE AT PEPPER'S

Black Magic

Black Top

1968

Pris sur le vif dans un club de Chicago (Pepper's Lounge) par le belge George Adins avec un simple magnétophone. Atmosphère bouillante mais qualité sonore parfois confuse. Accompagné par le groupe d'Earl Hooker, Lonnie mise tout sur la guitare même s'il se montre parfois imprécis. Un document intéressant sur une soirée dans un club de Chicago qu'on conseille plutôt aux fans confirmés.

Caught live in a Chicago club (Pepper's Lounge) by the Belgian George Adins with a simple tape recorder. Boiling atmosphere but sound quality sometimes confusing. Accompanied by Earl Hooker's backing band, Lonnie puts all on the guitar even if he is sometimes imprecise. An interesting document about an evening in a Chicago club that is recommended rather to confirmed fans.

BROKE AN' HUNGRY

Capitol

October 1969

Gravé lors d'une tournée en Californie, ce LP est produit par Wayne Shuler (le fils d'Eddie Shuler). Il fut signé Guitar Jr sur les conseils de Shuler et ne remporta aucun succès commercial à cause de cela. En effet, il était déjà connu à cette époque sous le nom de Lonnie Brooks. Cet album n'est pourtant sans qualité. Enregistré avec d'excellents sidemen (Harmonica Fats, Lyle Ritz, Paul Humphrey), il fait la part belle aux reprises avec plus ou moins d'inspiration (sa seule composition propre est l'instrumental "The train and the horse").

Recorded during a California tour, this LP is produced by Wayne Shuler (Eddie Shuler's son). It was signed Guitar Jr on Shuler's advice and did not win no commercial success because of that. Indeed, he was already known at that time as Lonnie Brooks. This album is not however without quality. Recorded with excellent sidemen (Harmonica Fats, Lyle Ritz, Paul Humphrey), he gives pride of place to covers with more or less inspiration (his only composition is the instrumental "The train and the horse").

SWEET HOME CHICAGO

Black & Blue

Evidence

December 1975

Lors de la tournée française du Chicago Blues Festival, Lonnie est associé à Little Mack Simmons (Lonnie est le guitariste de Simmons depuis 6 ans) et Willie Mabon. Il trouve, pendant cette tournée, l'opportunité de graver un album complet pour le label français Black & Blue. Cette séance en studio est supervisée par Jacques Morgantini. Le groupe est compétent mais trop discret ce qui rend le disque parfois ennuyeux. On retient des reprises originales de "Mama talk to your daughter", "Reconsider baby" et "Woke up this morning".

During the Chicago Blues Festival french tour, Lonnie is associated with Little Mack Simmons (Lonnie has been Simmons' guitarist for 6 years) and Willie Mabon. He finds, during this tour, the opportunity to record a complete album for the French label Black & Blue. This studio session is supervised by Jacques Morgantini. The backing band is competent but too discreet which makes the record sometimes boring. There are some original covers of "Mama talk to your daughter", "Reconsider baby" and "Woke up this morning".

(MOANIN', GROANIN', HOOPIN' AND HOWLIN') KIND OF BLUES

Second City

LET'S TALK IT OVER

Delmark

March 1977

Séance pour Ralph Bass initialement prévue pour TK Records, finalement éditée sur un LP rarissime par Second City, puis proposée en CD par Delmark en 1993. Enregistrée en deux heures, elle débouche sur un album spontané et inspiré dans lequel Lonnie est brillamment supporté par une formation dense et compacte (Bob Levis, Rob Waters, Harlan Terson, Robert Taylor Layton). Excellent chanteur et superbe guitariste, il délivre un set remarquable ponctué de ses propres compositions. Parmi celles-ci : "Let's talk it over", "Hard gamblin' woman", "Crash head on into love" et "Greasy man".

Session for Ralph Bass initially planned for TK Records, finally issued on a rare LP by Second City, then proposed in CD by Delmark in 1993. Recorded in two hours, it leads on a spontaneous and inspired album in which Lonnie is brilliantly supported by a dense and compact formation (Bob Levis, Rob Waters, Harlan Terson, Robert Taylor Layton). Excellent singer and superb guitarist, he delivers a remarkable set punctuated by his own compositions. These include "Let's talk over", "Hard gamblin' woman", "Crash head on into love" and "Greasy man".

LIVING CHICAGO BLUES (LP vol.3 / CD vol.2)

Alligator

Sonet

March - April 1978

Bruce Iglauer - fondateur d'Alligator - découvre Lonnie dans un club du West Side où il se produit et lui propose de participer à l'anthologie "Living Chicago blues". Celle-ci dresse un remarquable panorama de la scène Blues de Chicago. Lonnie brille sur quatre titres exceptionnels où son inspiration en tant que chanteur et guitariste semble à son zénith : "Don't answer the door", "Two headed man", "Cold lonely nights", "Move over little dog". Groupe fantastique derrière Lonnie : Bob Levis, Rob Waters, Harlan Terson, Casey Jones.

Bruce Iglauer - founder of Alligator - discovers Lonnie in a West Side club where he performs and offers him to participate in the "Living Chicago blues" anthology. This one offers a remarkable overview of the Chicago Blues scene. Lonnie shines on four outstanding tracks where his inspiration as a singer and guitarist seems to be at its zenith : "Don't answer the door", "Two headed man", "Cold lonely nights", "Move over little dog". Fantastic backing band behind Lonnie : Bob Levis, Rob Waters, Harlan Terson, Casey Jones.

BAYOU LIGHTNING

Alligator

Sonet

March 1979

Après sa participation sensationnelle à "Living Chicago Blues", Lonnie débute une collaboration fructueuse avec Alligator. Pour ce label, il met au point un superbe mélange de Chicago Blues et de Swamp Blues. Le premier album pour Alligator - produit par Lonnie Brooks et Bruce Iglauer - développe ses qualités déjà vues dans ses enregistrements précédents : finesse de l'interprétation, compositions personnelles accrocheuses, musiciens remarquables. Parmi ses compositions, il faut écouter "Voodoo daddy", "Figure head", "Watchdog", "Watch what you got" et "You know what my body needs". Enfin, on trouve aussi des reprises convaincantes de "In the dark" et "Alimony". L'album connut un beau succès public et permit à Lonnie de tourner aux Etats Unis et en Europe.

After his sensational participation in "Living Chicago Blues", Lonnie begins a successful collaboration with Alligator. For this label, he develops a great mix of Chicago Blues and Swamp Blues. The first album for Alligator - produced by Lonnie Brooks and Bruce Iglauer - develops his qualities already seen in his previous recordings : fineness of the interpretation, catchy personal compositions, remarkable musicians. Among his compositions, you have to listen to "Voodoo daddy", "Figure head", "Watchdog", "Watch what you got" and "You know what my body needs". Finally, there are also convincing covers of "In the dark" and "Alimony". The album had a great public success and allowed Lonnie to tour United States and Europe.

BLUES DELUXE

Alligator

Sonet

August 1980

Lors du festival de Blues de Chicago de 1980, Lonnie donne une version satisfaisante du standard "Sweet home Chicago".

At the 1980 Chicago Blues Festival, Lonnie gave a satisfying version of the standard "Sweet home Chicago".

TURN ON THE NIGHT

Alligator

Sonet

1980

Second opus pour Alligator avec ses excellents musiciens (agrémenté d'une section cuivres arrangée par Bill Mac Farland). Encore une fois, on apprécie une belle série de superbes compositions comme "Eyeballin'", "Inflation", "Heavy traffic", "Don't go to sleep on me". Un grand album dans la parfaite continuation de "Bayou lightning". La même année, Lonnie figure à l'affiche du Montreux Jazz Festival.

Second opus for Alligator with his excellent musicians (enhanced with a horn section arranged by Bill Mac Farland). Once again, we enjoy a great series of superb compositions like "Eyeballin'", "Inflation", "Heavy traffic", "Don't go to sleep on me". A great album in the perfect continuation of "Bayou lightning". The same year, Lonnie appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

HOT SHOT

Alligator

Sonet

1983

Pour cette troisième livraison chez Alligator, Lonnie reprend consciencieusement ses mêmes ingrédients. Quelques titres accrocheurs comme "Don't take advantage of me", "I want all my money back" et il redonne un coup de jeune à deux anciens morceaux : "Family rules" et "Mr Hot shot". Malgré ces bons moments, l'album n'atteint jamais la même intensité que dans "Bayou lightning" ou "Turn on the night".

For this third installment for Alligator, Lonnie conscientiously resumes his same ingredients. Some catchy titles like "Don't take advantage of me", "I want all my money back" and he gives a boost to two old songs : "Family rules" and "Mr Hot shot". Despite these good moments, the album never reaches the same intensity as in "Bayou lightning" or "Turn on the night".

WOUND UP TIGHT

Alligator

Sonet

1986

Un disque de Chicago Blues conventionnel sans grande surprise malgré la participation de Johnny Winter sur deux bons titres ("Got lucky last night", "Wound up tight"). "Jealous man" s'impose comme le meilleur titre du programme. Le reste étant franchement poussif et plat.

A record of conventional Chicago Blues without much surprise despite the participation of Johnny Winter on two good tracks ("Got lucky last night", "Wound up tight"). "Jealous man" stands out as the best title of the program. The rest is frankly wheezy and flat.

LIVE FROM CHICAGO : BAYOU LIGHTNING STRIKES

Alligator

Sonet

November 1987

Capté en public dans un club de Chicago (B.L.U.E.S etc) avec son groupe régulier, Lonnie délivre une performance chaleureuse et entrainante. De beaux moments intenses comme "Two headed man", "Trading post" ou "In the dark" ainsi qu'une puissante reprise de "Hideaway". Un disque live correct mais loin de rendre justice à Lonnie qui fut un fantastique showman.

Captured live in a Chicago club (B.L.U.E.S etc) with his regular group, Lonnie delivers a warm and catchy performance. Intense moments like "Two headed man", "Trading post" or "In the dark" and a powerful cover of "Hideaway". A good live record but far from doing justice to Lonnie who was a fantastic showman.

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

Alligator

1991

Pour cette sixième livraison pour Alligator, Lonnie propose un disque inégal avec des arrangements Rock qui peuvent déplaire. On retient "Temporary insanity", "It's lying time again" et un sympathique duo avec son fils Ronnie Baker Brooks "Like father like son" mais les autres pistes manquent cruellement d'originalité (comme le duo avec Koko Taylor).

For this sixth installment for Alligator, Lonnie offers an uneven record with Rock oriented arrangements that may displease. We remember "Temporary insanity", "It's lying time again" and a nice duet with his son Ronnie Baker Brooks "Like father like son" but the other tracks are cruelly lacking in originality (like the duet with Koko Taylor).

20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR

Alligator

March 1992

Concert donné pour les 20 ans du label Alligator à Philadelphie. Lonnie Brooks - présent chez Alligator depuis 1978 - joue sur six morceaux sur ce double CD : trois morceaux en leader (dont "Two headed man"), deux duos avec Katie Webster et Koko Taylor et enfin dans la jam finale rassemblant tous les artistes. Sympathique mais sans surprise.

Concert given for the 20th anniversary of the Alligator label in Philadelphia. Lonnie Brooks - present at Alligator since 1978 - plays six tracks on this double CD : three songs as a leader (including "Two headed man"), duets with Katie Webster and Koko Taylor and finally in the final jam gathering all the artists. Nice but not surprising.

CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Alligator

1992

Lonnie joue "Christmas on the bayou" dans cette sélection parue pour Noël.

Lonnie plays "Christmas on the bayou" in this selection released for Christmas.

ROADHOUSE RULES

Alligator

1995

Produit par Jim Gaines dans un style électrique nettement Rock, enregistré entre Memphis et Chicago, ce "Roadhouse rules" propose un Blues puissant et vigoureux de facture assez classique. On retient particulièrement "Backbone man", "Roll of the tumbling dice" (avec Sugar Blue à l'harmonica), "Too little too late" (avec les Memphis Horns), "Rockin' red rooster" et "Treat me like your dog".

Produced by Jim Gaines in a distinctly Rock style, recorded between Memphis and Chicago, this "Roadhouse rules" features a powerful and vigorous Blues of a fairly classic style. We particularly remember "Backbone man", "Roll of the tumbling dice" (with Sugar Blue on harmonica), "Too little too late" (with the Memphis Horns), "Rockin' red rooster" and "Treat me like your dog".

BLUES DOWN DEEP : SONGS OF JANIS JOPLIN

House of Blues

Ruf

1997

Dans cet album hommage à Janis Joplin, Lonnie interprète "Maybe" dans une version peu convaincante.

In this tribute album to Janis Joplin, Lonnie plays "Maybe" in an unconvincing version.

LONE STAR SHOOTOUT

Alligator

1999

Réunion de trois bluesmen majeurs texans et louisianais organisée par Bruce Iglauer et son label Alligator. Les trois artistes principaux sont en grande forme et irradient l'ensemble de l'album de leur talent. Les arrangements de cuivres sont remarquables (Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff, Gary Slechta, Lee Izmore, Ernest Youngblood Jr), le choix des titres astucieux et varié. Pour sa part, Lonnie reprend magnifiquement son "Roll roll roll" un classique du Swamp-Pop, "This should go on forever" et joue surtout sa propre composition "Feel good doin' bad".

Meeting of three major Texas and Louisiana bluesmen organized by Bruce Iglauer and his Alligator label. The three main artists are in great shape and radiate the entire album of their talent. The horn arrangements are remarkable (Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff, Gary Slechta, Lee Izmore, Ernest Youngblood Jr), a clever and varied choice of titles. For his part, Lonnie beautifully covers his "Roll roll roll" a Swamp-Pop classic, "This should go on forever" and plays especially his own composition "Feel good doin' bad".