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Lonnie Brooks Profile

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Lonnie Brooks

Lonnie Brooks

Photo courtesy Alligator Records

Lonnie Brooks Profile:

Born: December 18, 1933 in Dubuisson LA

Guitarist Lonnie Brooks forged a distinctive style that is often described as "voodoo blues," mixing elements of R&B, Chicago blues, Memphis soul, and Cajun music into an intoxicating brew. One of the most popular performers on the Chicago blues scene, Brooks also remains in demand on the festival circuit. Both of Brooks' sons - Wayne Baker Brooks and Ronnie Baker Brooks - are full-time musicians with their own blues bands, and they often appear onstage with their father. The three musicians also have performed together as The Brooks Family.

Guitar Junior

Born Lee Baker, Jr. in Louisiana, Brooks didn't begin playing guitar until he was in his twenties and living in Texas. His first professional gig was playing under the name "Guitar Junior" behind zydeco legend Clifton Chenier as part of his Red Hot Louisiana Band. Brooks began recording as Guitar Junior in 1957, releasing a number of regional singles, and scoring a minor hit with his song "The Crawl."

Brooks joined soul giant Sam Cooke's touring band in the late-1950s, but upon arriving in Chicago, he found another Guitar Junior already working in the city. Changing his name to Lonnie Brooks, the guitarist worked with Jimmy Reed for a while before setting out on his own. At first, Brooks' country-flavored songs fell upon indifferent ears, but as Brooks refined his sound, he grew in popularity on the Chicago blues scene.

Bayou Lightning

Brooks toured constantly throughout the 1970s and '80s, including appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival and as part of the Chicago Blues Festival. Alligator Records released Brooks' critically-acclaimed label debut, Bayou Lightning, in 1979. Brooks followed with Turn On The Night two years later; Alligator would subsequently release six more Brooks albums through the years.

A master showman and charismatic performer, Brooks has often branched out beyond records to take advantage of other mediums. The guitarist appeared in the movie Blues Brothers 2000 as well as various television shows, and co-wrote the book Blues For Dummies with his son Wayne and roots-rocker Cub Koda.

Recommended Albums: Brooks' Alligator label debut, Bayou Lightning, is considered his signature work, although 1999's Lone Star Shootout, with guitarists Long John Hunter and Phillip Walker, is an enduring fan favorite.

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