R.I.P. Paul Barrere, 1948-2019

Paul Barrere of Little Feat performs during the 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival just before he was forced to take time off the tour (Image: Getty Images)

Paul Barrere of Little Feat performs during the 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival just before he was forced to take time off the tour (Image: Getty Images)

Little Feat has been one of WC’s favorite bands for almost 50 years now. For a band that has no members, none at all, from the south they have been a solid southern rock outfit. For a band with no members from New Orleans, they do some pretty mean cajun cooking. Alan Toussaint even toured and performed with them once, a tour WC saw in Chicago in 1974. But they have broken up more times than you can count, quit entirely for a while, and suffered too many deaths of band members.

Little Feat was founded by Mothers of Invention members Lowell George and Roy Estrada, joined by Bill Payne and Richie Hayward in 1969. Warner Brothers signed them. The original band had three albums; then Estrada left. Paul Barrere replaced him. Lowell George, drug-addled, morbidly obese and seriously strung out when WC saw him in Chicago in 1974, announced the band was breaking up in mid-set, nearly in mid-song. None of the other band members looked even faintly surprised.

Ripped off and run out of town,
Had my guitar burned when I was clowning.
Haven’t slept in a bed for a week.
And my shoes feel like they’re part of my feet
Let me come down – where I won’t be a bother to no one
Let me unwind – please give me a hole to recline in.
Knocked on my friend’s door in Moody, Texas,
And asked if he had a place for me.
His hair was cut off and he was wearing a suit.
He said not in my house, no, not in my house.
He looked like a part of a conspiracy.

– “Strawberry Flats,” Lowell George, Little Feat

Lowell George died in 1979 of morbid obesity, a cocaine overdose and a heart attack.

After a eight year hiatus, Little Feat re-formed around Bill Payne and Paul Barrere.

The drugs were pretty bad for too long. And there’s good evidence some needles got shared.

I’ve seen the bright lights of Memphis and the Commodore Hotel.
And underneath a street lamp, I met a Southern Belle.
Well, she took me to the river where she cast her spell.
And in that southern moonlight, she sang the song so well.
If you’ll be my dixie chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee lamb.
And we can walk together down in Dixieland, down in Dixieland.

– “Dixie Chicken,” Lowell George and Fred Martin, Dixie Chicken

Hepatitis Type C is spread by IV needles. And causes liver cancer. Drummer Richie Haward died of liver cancer in 2010.

And now Paul Barrere has succumbed to liver cancer as well.

I’ve been down, but not like this before.
Can’t be around this kind of show no more.

All, all that you dream comes through shining silver lining.
Clouds, clouds change of scene.
Rain starts washing, all those cautions right into your life.
Just stop and realize just what is true.
What else can you do?
Just follow the rules and keep your eyes on the road that’s ahead of you.

– “All That You Dream,” Paul Barrrere and Bill Payne, The Last Record Album

They were a terrific live act; it’s not a coincidence that their best selling albums like Waiting for Columbus were live recordings. Part of the reason they were so good live were the wonderful solos by the band members, always highlighted by Barrere’s guitar work.

Little Feat has been called a “boogie band,” “bluesadelic” and “funky Americana.” And it’s all true. Since 1972, Barrere has been the guitarist who helped make their signature sound. He also found time to play with dozens of other artists.

I been warped by the rain
Driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty, don’t you know
And I’m still… willin’

– “Willin’,” Lowell George and Paul Barrere,  Little Feat

Excuse WC now, please  He’s going to put on Dixie Chicken and turn the volume up very loud.

One thought on “R.I.P. Paul Barrere, 1948-2019

  1. Thank you. I’ll be doing the same while exercising this morning. Waiting For Columbus is on my iPod. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now…


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