Keeping the Blues Alive / Blues News  / Photo of The Week – Clarence ‘Gatemouth” Brown

Photo of The Week – Clarence ‘Gatemouth” Brown

Clarence ‘Gatemouth” Brown is a Texas legend that is hard to put in a neat little box.  Furthermore, he played the blues but loved other genres as well.  He has ventured into Country, Bluegrass, Calypso, Jazz and more.  If it was something he heard and liked, he played it. 

Where he got the nickname “Gatemouth.”

The “Gatemouth” nickname came from a high school teacher who said he had a “voice like a gate,” and it stuck. His break came in 1947.  He filled in for T-Bone Walker onstage at Don Robey’s Bronze Peacock Houston nightclub. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown took up his guitar and played “Gatemouth Boogie” and his career was off and running.

Gate Moves To Nashville

In the 1960s, Gate called Nashville home and became a fixture there. He appeared on a syndicated Country music TV show, and laying down some Country tracks. Roy Clark had become a good buddy and the two recorded an album together. Gate even showed-up on the (very white) TV show ‘Hee Haw’.

He becomes a Deputy Sheriff

In the late ’60s, Gate tired of the music scene and headed to the desert of New Mexico.  He turned in his guitar for a badge by becoming a Deputy Sheriff.  In the ’70s, American Roots music swept Europe, Gates was in demand, and he toured Europe extensively. His guitar style is legendary. 

His music influenced Frank Zappa

He influenced the likes of Albert Collins, Guitar Slim, J. J. Cale, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Frank Zappa.  Frank Zappa even declared Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as his all-time favorite guitarist.  This photo of Clarence ‘Gatemouth” Brown is by Kirk West at Biddy Milligan’s in Chicago Illinois after a performance.  

About the Photographer:

This picture was taken by Kirk West, A music lover who made a career out of music photography.  West is first and foremost a music lover. He has never been able to get enough of the people, places, and things that comprise the life of a touring artist. In search of the richness that musicians and their music bring the world, his travels and life have taken him from his Iowa birthplace to far flung reaches of the globe, camera in hand. 

In 1989 he served as the tour manager for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years.  Check out his web-site to read more about his fantastic adventures and other artists he has captured as a part of musical historyhttp://www.kirkwestphotography.com/

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