Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown has died at the age of 81 in his hometown of Orange, Tx. Brown, who had been living in Slidell, La. successfully evacuated to Texas in the face of Hurricane Katrina, but died shortly after making the journey. He had been in ill health for the past year. The town of Slidell was destroyed in the hurricane.
"He was completely devastated", his booking agent Rick Cady said. "I’m sure he was heartbroken, both literally and figuratively. He evacuated successfully before the hurricane hit, but I’m sure it weighed heavily on his soul".
"Gatemouth" Brown had a fifty year career in music. He made over thirty recordings, and won a Grammy award in 1982. He didn’t like being labeled a bluesman because he played all different kinds of music, including Cajun, zydeco, jazz, country, and Texas blues. He played several instruments including guitar and fiddle.
Though he played with such luminaries as Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt, Brown took a dim view of most musicians, calling B.B. King one dimensional, and writing off blues legends Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland as clones of Texas blues giant T-Bone Walker who inspired him.
"I’m so unorthodox, a lot of people can’t handle it", Brown said in a 2001 interview.
"He is one of the most underrated guitarists, musicians and
arrangers I’ve ever met, an absolute prodigy," said Colin Walters, who
is working on Brown’s biography. "He is truly one of the most gifted
musicians out there.
"He never wanted to be called a bluesman,
but I used to tell him that though he may not like the blues, he does
the blues better than anyone," added Walters. "He inherited the legacy
of great bluesmen like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, but he took
what they did and made it better."