They were a matchless combination of a great American songwriter and a great American rhythm section: Lowell George and Little Feat. When Kenny Gradney assumed the bass chair from ex-Mothers of Invention player Roy Estrada for Dixie Chicken (1973), this versatile LA based ensemble commenced a groundbreaking run of albums and tours which uninhibitedly fused rock ‘n’ roll, blues, New Orleans funk, gospel, soul, jazz ,and every variation thereof like no other band before – or since . Gradney, who also waxed sides with Delaney & Bonnie, Warren Zevon, Chico Hamilton, Robert Palmer, Carly Simon, and Bob Weir, among others – boogied in-the-pocket with a pure Fender Precision tone that was occasionally enhanced with a subtle use of effects.
Mr. Gradney is that consummate bass player who oft goes unnoticed in the service of making everyone around them sound their best. To my ears, Kenny and Little Feat’s masterpiece is unquestionably the collection which captured Little Feat in their natural habitat: the live Waiting For Columbus (1978), which ranks among the greatest concert recordings of any era in popular music.
Despite the passing of key members Lowell George and drummer Richie Hayward, Kenny is still on the bandstand with Little Feat – whose absence from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is inexcusable.