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Remembering American Roots Inspiration Delaney Bramlett

The great writer-guitarist, with wife Bonnie, made some of the best blues, rock and gospel-flavoured US music of their generation.

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Delaney Bramlett

It was on the first day of July 1939 that Delaney Bramlett was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi. The great writer-guitarist, with his wife Bonnie, went on to make some of the best American roots music of their generation. Along the way, he also made solid bonds with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Gregg and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers and Leon Russell.

Delaney Bramlett Delaney moved to Los Angeles around his 20th birthday and soon became an in-demand session guitarist. He worked frequently with Russell in the Shindogs, the house band who played on the pop TV series Shindig. By then, Bonnie O’Farrell, as she then was, had already sung as a teenager with Albert King and with Ike & Tina Turner in the Ikettes.

Bramlett and O’Farrell married in 1967, and were soon underlining the sophisticated racial integration policy at black-owned Stax Records, where the white couple landed a deal. Their first album Home was released by the label in 1969, produced by Don Nix and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, from Booker T & the MGs.

Listen to Home right now.

The whole of that band played on it, along with Russell, Isaac Hayes, William Bell and Carl Radle (later with Clapton in Derek & the Dominos). The album wasn’t a hit, and the couple moved to Elektra, expanding to the group name Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and welcoming Harrison, Clapton and others into their widening list of admirers. They co-wrote ‘Superstar’ with Leon Russell and ‘Let It Rain’ for Clapton’s first album under his own name in 1970.

Harrison even offered D&B a contract with Apple, which they tried to accept. But the upshot was that they neither recorded for Apple nor continued with Elektra. Clapton made them the opening group for Blind Faith’s 1969 tour, and helped them win a deal with Atco. More well-regarded albums and tours followed, before the couple divorced in 1973. Both continued in show business, Delaney releasing the album A New Kind of Blues shortly before his death in 2008. Bonnie remained busy as a backing vocalist and as an actor, with a frequent role in Roseanne in 1991 and ’92. The couple’s daughter, Bekka, was briefly in a 1990s line-up of Fleetwood Mac.

That debut Delaney & Bonnie album for Stax, Home, may not have torn up the charts, but it’s a great slice of southern soul with flavours of Americana, both in its original compositions and covers of R&B gems like ‘My Baby Specialises’ and ‘Things Get Better.’ It’s still well worth your time, just as Delaney’s unique contribution to roots rock always deserves louder applause.

Home can be bought here.

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Follow the This Is Delaney & Bonnie playlist.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. peter harding

    July 2, 2014 at 2:23 am

    just great very good post

    • pausextudusm

      July 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Many thanks, Peter. We enjoyed giving Delaney a little bit of latter-day attention, his musical legacy certainly deserves it. ‘Home’ still sounds great, doesn’t it?

  2. john farrell

    July 2, 2014 at 3:47 am

    delaney n bonnie were phenomenal bunch of great musicians shiendig was great when i was a wee lad . often there are polls and such to determine claptons place in southern rock these guys in criteria making layla all wre the same bunch of guys backed up blind faith leon rusell jj cale what about all the cats from tulsa to dallas whereever eric clapton through his friendship with duane allman had already established a roots music thing with carl radle bobby whitlock is like a man doing bonnie b. its that soulful gordon was a great drummer watch the mad dogs movie

  3. Mike

    July 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    “I don’t want to discuss it” off of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – Live is one of the best songs ever.

  4. chris roberts

    July 29, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Great soulful LP, Delaney was one of the masters. I’ve always loved this record along with their Electra and Atco recordings. Down Home baby!!

    • Skip Scarlett

      July 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Don’t forget ” Motel shot “

  5. Patricia Murphy Bolten

    July 2, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I wonder why her backing vocals along with Bonnie Raitt on the Always Great Dixie Chicken album with Lowell George, wasn’t mentioned.B Bramlett and B Raitt did some of their best work there. (So did Little Feat)

  6. Will Porter

    July 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Well meaning post full of oft-repeated mistakes. De& Bonnie’s first recorded Lp Home was NOT released first. only one or two singles were released on Stax; then they were released from their contract. They had a showcase in Los angeles. The Beatles sent Peter Asher to sign them to Apple, he slept through the auction, jet lagged, they signed with Electra, though the Beatles /apple got them for UK and Europe. Accept No substitute Came out on the Two labels at the same time to much acclaim. Stax took notice and asked to put out their Stax sessions. D& Bonnie asked permission to re-cut some vocals, which they did, in Los angel, with Rita coolidge and Bobby wHitlock. They moved to taco for the Live LP and the “to Bonnie from D” Lp. and Jerry Wexler sold “”country Life” (which he didn’t care for) and various non-lp single sides, iclusing the studio “coming home’ and Superstar/groupie”” to clive Davis” all of which was released on columbia as “Together”.

    • David Ostrosser

      July 2, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks for the insight. Those are the kind of details I love to gather on the D&B/Dominoes/Leon nexus. Hope to find some of that in Rita Coolidge’s autobiography. Still waiting on a good Leon biography.

  7. Wailer Mon

    July 1, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    I had NO idea! I’ve always loved the D&B&F album, but didn’t really know their full back story! THANK YOU for this! 🙂

  8. Tony S

    July 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Never Ending Song of Love from Motel Shot is one of the simplest yet most beautiful love songs out there, period.o

  9. Tony S

    July 1, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Never Ending Song of Love from Motel Shot is one of the simplest yet most beautiful love songs out there, period.o

  10. nsgmi

    July 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Delaney’s rendition of “Faded Love” is the most emotional version ever recorded.
    Haunting, really.

  11. Carolyn

    July 2, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Have loved everyone of the musicians mentioned here. Saw most of them performing together in NYC at Carnegie Hall in 1969. One of the best shows of my life.
    Bonnie Bramlett, Rita Coolidge, Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi are the most soulful singers of my time here on earth.

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