Little Feat- Feats Don’t Fail Me Now 50th- Bill Payne, the late Paul Barrere

For the tasty Little Feat fourth studio album Feats Don’t Fail Me Now‘s golden anniversary, Little Feat lifers Bill Payne and Paul Barrere sat down with me to talk. Or maybe they should have been lying down on a couch. “I loved him, and I hated him,” said a clearly emotional Paul Barrere in this intense conversation, which inevitably begins and ends with the subject of the enigmatic musical genius, Lowell George. “Man, this interview was like a therapy session,” Bill Payne said after, looking me straight in the eye.

 If only musicians and music writers voted for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then Little Feat would have been inducted years ago on their first ballot of eligibility. Encompassing every form of indigenous American music since its inception to this day, Little Feat was formed by the late enigmatic slide guitarist/singer/songwriter Lowell George and the ace keyboard player Bill Payne, with Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention bass player Roy Estrada, fellow Hollywood High singer/guitarist Paul Barrere (d. October 2019), seemingly eight-limbed drummer the late Richie Hayward, with Kenny Gradney, Sam Clayton, Fred Tackett, and much later, ex-Pure Prairie League singer/songwriter Craig Fuller all to follow.The first Little Feat album came out all the way back in 1971, not so much released as it sort of oozed out. Like practically every one of their first five studio records, including Summer 1974’s Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, the debut received great reviews but didn’t sell diddly. “That first album sold 11,000 copies,” admits Little Feat co-founder/keyboard whiz Bill Payne, “The second album, Sailin’ Shoes, sold only 13,000. Maybe 17, tops.” Yet Little Feat soon would be tagged as America’s best unknown band, but that dubious distinction doesn’t feed the bulldog.

Songs include “Oh Atlanta”, “Spanish Moon”, “Skin It Back”, “Rock and Roll Doctor”, the blazing medley “Cold Cold Cold/Tripe Face Boogie”, and a long lost 1974 live-in-the-studio performance of  “Spanish Moon/Skin It Back/Fat Man in the Bathtub”  included. This is a no-holds-barred insider’s look at the talented but troubled Little Feat co-founder Lowell George and his complicated relationships within the band prior to his death from a drug-induced heart attack in 1979. This show is dedicated to the memory of George, plus band co-founder/drummer Richie Hayward and now too guitarist/singer Paul Barrere.”Keep on playin’ that tambourine…” – Redbeard