Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few

Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few

Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few

Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few


Influenced at a young age by classic country, Tejano, western swing, and the popular music of wartime America, blues musician Delbert McClinton grew up with a backstage pass to some of the most significant moments in American cultural and music history. From his birth on the high plains of West Texas during World War II to headlining sold-out cruises on chartered luxury ships well into his seventies, McClinton admits he has been "One of the Fortunate Few."

This book chronicles McClinton's path through a free-range childhood in Lubbock and Fort Worth; an early career in the desegregated roadhouses along Fort Worth's Jacksboro Highway, where he led the house bands for Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and others while making a name for himself as a regional player in the birth of rock and roll; headlining shows in England with a little-known Liverpool quartet called The Beatles; and heading back to Texas in time for the progressive movement, kicking off Austin's burgeoning role in American music history.

Today, more than sixty years after he first stepped onto a stage, Delbert McClinton shows no signs of slowing down. He continues to play sold-out concert and dance halls, theaters, and festival events across the nation. An annual highlight for his fans is the Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Cruise, the longest-running music-themed luxury cruise in history at more than twenty-five years of operation. More than the story of a rags-to-riches musician, Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few offers readers a soundtrack to some of the most pivotal moments in the history of American popular music--all backed by a cooking rhythm section and featuring a hot harmonica lead.


In Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, Number 10 is “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”

For me that generally means forewords and introductions.

So, when Diana Hendricks asked if I’d write a foreword for the biography of Delbert McClinton she was working on, I said I would, figuring most people are like me and would ignore it, and go right to the parts where Delbert tells us a bunch of shit that probably isn’t even close to being true. Or, on the remote chance it is true, it would be information he should have kept to himself.

I love Delbert. in a healthy way. Not like we were, say, cellmates doing life in Huntsville. Not like Rupert Pupkin either, prowling around stalking his ass leaving creepy notes in his mailbox.

When we have Delbert on Imus in the Morning, the crew loves Delbert. They love Delbert because he is not an asshole. Vince Gill and Dwight Yoakam are not assholes either. Levon Helm was a saint. Then there is Van Morrison. Van was on the show with the gospel group, the Blind Boys of Alabama. They were going to sing a duet but could not agree on a song. An argument ensued. You know who argues with blind people who are black and love Jesus? An asshole.

I first heard the album Victim of Life’s Circumstances in the late 1970s. a cocaine dealer friend of mind played it for me in his apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, not some hillbilly in a double wide in Nashville, Tennessee. Delbert had already caught a bunch of people’s attention all over the country and now he’d caught mine. Having drug dealer fans does not make you a bad person, I should add.

Delbert is a great songwriter. God gave him a voice and phrasing as good as anyone who has ever made a record. He is funny and smart and doesn’t make singing look like work. Or an exercise class. Lyle Lovett once said to me, “If we could all sing like we wanted to, we’d all sing like Delbert.”

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