Born: March 6, 1951 in Ocean City NJ
Strangely enough, blues-rock guitarist Walter Trout remains relatively unknown in the U.S., in spite of forging a respectable career in an American blues scene that has been dominated by fiery guitarslingers since Stevie Ray Vaughan broke out in the mid-1980s.
It didn't help, perhaps, that Trout toiled for years in virtual obscurity while touring with British blues legend John Mayall, or later with his own bands, or that his first stateside album release didn't come until a decade into his solo career. Regardless, Trout is an underrated talent that has managed to mix a perfect measure of old-school rock and lightning blues in creating his unique individual sound.
The New Jersey Scene
Born in New Jersey to supportive, music-loving parents, Trout's first instrument was actually the trumpet, which he played in the school band. As a young teen, however, he came across the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the work of guitarist Michael Bloomfield and the die was cast. Trout would pick up a guitar and decide on a life in blues music.
Trout performed in several bands in a thriving New Jersey music scene during the late-1960s and early-70s, competing with artists like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Chinnock. Trout packed up the car in 1973 and headed out to the West Coast, landing in Los Angeles, where he made a living as a sideman for blues and R&B artists like Big Mama Thornton, Joe Tex, and John Lee Hooker.
Canned Heat & the Bluesbreakers
By 1981, Trout's reputation with the guitar was such that he was offered a job with blues-rock institution Canned Heat, replaced the late, beloved guitarist Bob "Bear" Hite. Two years later, Trout was invited to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, sharing the stage with fellow guitarist Coco Montoya. Trout jumped at the chance, and spent six years recording and touring with the British blues legend. Many consider the Trout/Montoya line-up of the Bluesbreakers to be Mayall's best since the mid-1960s roster that included Eric Clapton.
Trout left Mayall's employ in 1989 to launch his solo career, forming the Walter Trout Band and releasing his debut album, Life In The Jungle, the following year. Constant touring across the European continent, combined with subsequent album releases (that would sell over half a million copies combined), would win Trout a loyal overseas audience. Stateside blues fans remained blissfully unaware of Trout's talents throughout much of the 1990s.
Walter Trout & the Radicals
With several albums under his belt, Trout returned home with a new band, the Free Radicals (later just Walter Trout & the Radicals) and his first U.S. distributed work, a self-titled 1998 album released by Germany's Ruf Records (originally released in Europe as Positively Beale Street). Trout would continue to tour tirelessly throughout the late-1990s and early-00s, releasing a string of well-received albums of guitar-driven blues and blues-rock that featured his fiery six-string style and hard living lyrics.
In 2006, Trout released Full Circle, the realization of a long-held dream where the guitarist had the opportunity to work with several of his former bandmates and other musical idols like John Mayall, Jeff Healey, Coco Montoya, Joe Bonamassa, Guitar Shorty, and others. Trout's career continued to pick up steam with the 2008 release of The Outsider, a critically-acclaimed collection that earned Trout a Blues Music Award nomination. In the wake of Trout's 2012 release Blues For The Modern Daze, the popular guitarist developed liver disease, which necessitated a transplant in the spring of 2014. While ill, Trout recorded The Blues Came Callin', which was released in June 2014.
Recommended Albums: Trout's 1990 debut, Life In The Jungle is an inspired mix of live and studio tracks that was reissued in the U.S. by Ruf Records in 2002. The hard-rockin' 2008 release The Outsider has more than enough six-string pyrotechnics to satisfy any rabid blues-rock fan. In 2012, Trout released Blues For The Modern Daze, an incendiary set that takes the guitarist's songwriting into more populist territory, becoming Trout's most acclaimed work to date.
Walter Trout - Select Discography
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- Life In The Jungle (Provogue, 1990/Ruf Records, 2002)
- Prisoner Of A Dream (Provogue, 1990)
- Transition (Provogue, 1992)
- No More Fish Jokes (Provogue, 1992)
- Tellin' Stories (Silvertone, 1994)
- Breaking The Rules (Provogue, 1995)
- Positively Beale Street (Provogue, 1997)
- Walter Trout (Ruf Records, 1998)
- Livin' Every Day (Ruf Records, 1999)
- Live Trout (Ruf Records, 2000)
- Face The Music (Provogue, 2000)
- Go The Distance (Ruf Records, 2001)
- Relentless (Ruf Records, 2003)
- Deep Trout (Provogue/Ruf Records, 2005)
- Full Circle (Ruf Records, 2006)
- The Outsider (Provogue Records, 2008)
- Unspoiled By Progress (Provogue Records, 2009)
- Common Ground (Provogue Records, 2010)
- Blues For The Modern Daze (Provogue Records, 2012)
- The Blues Came Callin' (Provogue Records, 2014)