CLARENCE GATEMOUTH BROWN


































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CLARENCE "GATEMOUTH" BROWN

Born in Vinton, Louisiana, Brown was raised in Orange, Texas. His professional musical career began in 1945, playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. Tagged with the "Gatemouth" handle by a high school instructor who accused Brown of having a "voice like a gate," Brown has used it to his advantage throughout his illustrious career.  He took note, and his fame took off, during his impromptu fill-in in a 1947 concert by T-Bone Walker in Don Robey's Bronze Peacock Houston nightclub.  When Walker became ill, Brown took up his guitar and played "Gatemouth Boogie," to the delight of the audience.

In the 1960s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in a syndicated R&B television show, and while he was there recorded several country singles. He struck up a friendship with Roy Clark and made several appearances on the television show Hee Haw.[1] By the late 1960s he had decided to leave the music industry and he moved to New Mexico and became a deputy sheriff.

However, in the early 1970s several countries in Europe had developed an appreciation for American roots music, especially blues, and Brown was a popular and well-respected artist there. He toured Europe twelve times, beginning in 1971 and continuing throughout the 1970s. He also became an official ambassador for American music, and participated in several tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department, including an extensive tour of Eastern Africa. In 1974, he recorded as a sideman with the New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair on his album, "Rock 'N' Roll Gumbo" (originally a Blue Star Records release). He moved to New Orleans in the late 1970s.

In 1999 was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

In September 2004, Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer. Already suffering from emphysema and heart disease, he and his doctors decided to forgo treatment.  His home in Slidell, Louisiana was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he was evacuated to his childhood home town of Orange, Texas, where he died on September 10 at his brother's home, at the age of 81. Brown is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Orange, Texas. However, flooding caused by hurricane Ike in September, 2008, damaged his grave.

During his career, he played a wide variety of guitars, including Gibson L-5s and Fender Telecasters, but his trademark guitar was a mid 1960s 'non-reverse' Gibson Firebird, customized with an embossed-leather cover featuring a rose and "Gatemouth," amongst other designs. His guitar style influenced many other blues guitarists such as Albert Collins, Guitar Slim, J. J. Cale, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Frank Zappa named Brown as his all-time favorite guitarist. He is also considered as one of the first guitarists to use a capo in his guitar technique. Although well-known in the American South and Southwest, Brown had trouble reaching a national audience, and recorded for several different small record labels in the early part of his career. His most recent album, Timeless, was released in late 2004

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Background information
Birth nameClarence Brown
Also known asGatemouth, Gate
BornApril 18, 1924(1924-04-18)
Vinton, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedSeptember 10, 2005 (aged 81)
Orange, Texas, U.S.
Genre(s)Blues, swing, country, cajun
Occupation(s)musician, singer
Instrument(s)guitar, violin, viola, mandolin, drums, vocals, harmonica, piano
Years active1947-2005
Label(s)Aladdin Records
Peacock Records
Cindrella Records
Black and Blue Records
Barclay Records
Music Is Medicine
Rounder Records
Alligator Records
Verve Records
Associated actsGate's Express (Harold Floyd, David Peters, Joe Krown, Eric Demmer



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