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Delaney and Bonnie are best remembered in the U.S., as the opening act on the infamous Blind Faith US tour, which consisted of 24 concerts over a span of 7 weeks (July 12, - August 24, 1969).

Delaney Bramlett had moved to Los Angeles from his birthplace in Mississippi on the advice of his aspiring musician buddies, J.J. Cale and Leon Russell. He soon landed a gig as guitarist with the "Shindogs", the house band on the famed ABC TV music show "Shindig". While the band was playing a show at a LA bowling alley he met Bonnie (maiden name O'Farrell) a young gospel/blues singer from St. Louis who was causing quite a sensation as the first white girl to become one of Ike & Tina Turner's Ikettes. Ike & Tina were an hard working up and coming LA group who were on the brink of breaking out. Legend has it that they married within a week and Delaney & Bonnie was born.

Their reputation within the LA music scene spread quickly and they soon landed a record deal with Electra when their debut on Stax went nowhere. Their superb backing band, made up of the finest LA studio aces, Bobby Whitlock on keyboards, bassist Carl Radle, and drummer Jim Keltner, stayed with them after the album was completed and they were asked to join the Blind Faith tour. Their unique blend of soul, country, blues and rock had a strong effect on Eric Clapton (as well as their notorious consumption of alcohol and drugs) and he soon became a regular guest on their tour bus as well as on stage.


Jim Gordon, Bonnie Bramlett, George Harrison, Delaney Bramlett, and Eric Clapton
     Concert in Denmark, Dec. 10, 1969 Photo: Jan Persson

 

When Blind Faith disintegrated after their much-hyped US tour, it was only natural that Eric Clapton would remain with his new found cronies. He did his best to avoid the spotlight and media attention that had plagued him during the demise of Cream and throughout the short-lived career of "supergroup" Blind Faith. He was content with his role of sideman but that wasn't always possible.

In addition to D & B's roster of musical comrades (Cale and Russell, Rita Coolidge, Gram Parsons, Jim Gordon, Bobby Keys, etc.) they were soon joined on stage by a large number of Eric's pals including Dave Mason, Duane Allman, Jesse Ed Davis, Billy Preston, and most notably, George Harrison. The duo "Delaney & Bonnie" became known as "Delaney & Bonnie & Friends" when they began their European tour.

They later toured Europe with John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band.

Bobby Keys, Rita Coolidge, Bonnie, Delaney, Carl Radle, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison 
       (
Concert in Denmark, Dec. 10, 1969 - Photo: Jan Persson
)

In addition to seeing D & B on the Blind Faith tour (The Fabulous Forum - 8/15, 1969), I had the pleasure of opening for them with ( I think) my band "Pegasus" at an LA club, the name of which (and date), I cannot remember for the life of me. I know it was on Ventura Blvd. in the North Hollywood / Sherman Oaks area, and it was a classier venue than the beer bars to which we were accustomed. The club was not especially large, (around a hundred seats, a couple hundred more standing, max). I do remember that the club had a low ceiling above the stage, which created problems for our on-stage sound (sort of reverb / echo-like, - we had no monitors back then). I think D & B used their own side fills, so they might not have shared our sound problems. Either way, the sound was great out front (for a house PA). I do remember that we had to share the small stage with their equipment (at least their drum set up).  Such is the life of an opening band.

It was a good thing we had a decent following (for a Top 40 bar band), so our fans kept the dance floor full; otherwise, the roomful of anxious D & B fans might have booed us off the stage.

For some odd reason (old age, drugs, my mental hard drive is full & it randomly deletes mental data), I cannot really remember many details of the occasion. Obviously, I didn't encounter any concupiscent young lovelies, or I would no doubt remember. However, I do remember it was a great gig. We got to see Delaney & Bonnie in an intimate venue, and best of all, we only had to do one 60-70 minute set for the night. I don't even know if the late - great, Carl Radle was on bass. At the time, I believe I was still obsessed with Jack Bruce (and John Entwistle - Chris Squire?). I didn't appreciate Radle until years later.
 

Though it turned out to be a great gig, I never had a chance to talk to any of the band members. Their crew had set up and done their sound check before we arrived, leaving the drums on stage for our set up. I have no clue where they were hiding (I suspect their infamous tour bus was parked outside), but minutes after our set concluded (sans encore), their band swept in, they did their set, and they were gone before the encore applause subsided.

Looking back, I'm quite sure that the show was after Eric Clapton had stripped them of both their rhythm section, and Bobby Whitlock, for Derek&The Dominos. One thing I am sure of: it was obviously before Delaney & Bonnie's divorce in '72, which resulted in the band's demise. I'm guessing it was sometime in 1972 because I remember them doing a fantastic, rockin' version of Dave Mason's song, "Only You Know and I Know." The song was a Top 20 hit from their last album, "Delaney & Bonnie Together".

Update: My old buddy, and later my long-time soundman, Tommy Wright, reminded me that the club was the "Brass Ring" . Even though he wasn't there, and I hadn't even met him back then, he still remembers...

 
2nd Update: - DISCOVERY!


SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2008  04:41 AM
 

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