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Lonnie Brooks

Photo © 1998 by Tom Asp.
All rights reserved
Lonnie Brooks was born Lee Baker, Jr., December 18, 1933 on a small farm in rural Louisiana near Dubuisson. He learned to play the blues from his banjo-picking grandfather but didn't think about a professional music career until he moved to Port Arthur, Texas in the early 1950's where he was exposed to the music of Gatemouth Brown, T. Bone Walker, B.B. King and Long John Hunter. It was there he also first met one of his musical heroes, Clifton Chenier. "I was sitting on a porch practicing on the guitar and he drove up and he saw me and come up there and asked who was I playing with. I said, 'I'm not good enough yet.' He said, 'you sound good to me. How about coming over to the house and lets jam.'" Chenier liked what he heard and the young Brooks wound up playing in Chenier's band over the next few years and went on to solo success recording a number of regional R&B hits including "The Crawl" and "Family Rules" under the name Guitar Junior.

In 1959, after touring with friend Sam Cooke, Lonnie moved to Chicago. He soon learned there already was another Guitar Junior (Luther Johnson) so he simply changed his name to avoid any confusion. Becoming infatuated with the sounds of deep Chicago blues, Lonnie soon landed a gig playing and recording with Jimmy Reed. You can hear Lonnie's guitar playing on the mega-hit "Big Boss Man." His big break came in 1978 when Alligator Records chose four of Brooks' songs to appear on the "Living Chicago Blues" anthology.

Ronnie, Lonnie, Wayne, Biscuit
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles. All rights reserved
This lead to the release of his first solo Alligator album, "Bayou Lightning" in 1979. Alligator has been his recording home ever since with his most recent album being "Roadhouse Rules" and the greatest hits "Lonnie Brooks Deluxe Edition" in 1997.

Brooks forges a unique mixture of Louisiana, Texas and Chicago blues unlike anyone else on the competitive Chicago blues scene where he has reigned as one of the Windy Cities' top bluesmen over the past two decades. Lonnie has a dynamic, singular quality to his voice that falls somewhere between hard core blues and smooth sounding soul. He plays a wicked and innovative guitar, is a gifted songwriter and consummate entertainer. In fact, his live performances are legendary, with the charismatic and good-natured Brooks always injecting a high level of energy and excitement into his shows that simply electrifies his audiences.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.