Bill Payne - keyboards, vocals; Paul Barrere - vocals, lead guitar; Ritchie Hayward - drums, vocals; Kenny Gradney - bass, vocals; Sam Clayton - percussion; Craig Fuller - vocals, rhythm guitar; Fred Tackett - lead guitar, vocals
There was great anticipation when Little Feat arrived to play this Fillmore Auditorium gig on September 1, 1988. The group, made up of an all-star cast of top L.A. session players and backing musicians, had been acclaimed by some critics during its heyday in the mid-1970s as one of the finest rock bands in America. They had abruptly fallen apart in 1979, however, when front man Lowell George departed suddenly to release a solo album and launch a solo tour. Though he had announced that Little Feat had broken up, most members saw George's solo excursion as a temporary musical vacation from what had essentially become his rock 'n' roll day job. Then, the unexpected happened. George was found dead in a Virginia motel room the morning after a solo gig, from what was called a heart attack (though most familiar with George knew he had a history of drug abuse and believed the heart attack was caused by his heavy use of cocaine).
With George's death, it seemed, for nearly a decade, that Little Feat was condemned to remain a thing of the past. Eventually, however, tired of playing backup for the likes of Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, the band's surviving members decided to regroup in 1988 - with new players Fred Tackett on guitar and Craig Fuller singing vocals (former lead singer of Pure Prairie League, who sounds remarkably like Lowell George) - and give it another go.
Critics and fans alike had no idea what to expect. But from the second they stepped on stage and began performing, Little Feat blew everyone away. The revised band was just as strong as the George-led version, and because Barrere and Payne had become the principle writers for the last few albums before the lineup disbanded in 1979 (and since Fuller could easily cover the songs George had originally sung), the creative transition was more or less seamless. Their strong new album, Let It Roll, continued to fan the flames.
This show marks Little Feat's return to the Bay Area. San Francisco had a strong fan base of the original band, so anticipation and excitement were clearly in the air that night. There are numerous highlights, but "Let It Roll," "Hate To Lose Your Lovin'," "Dixie Chicken" and "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" are nothing short of astonishing.