Updated Dec. 11: The Delbert McClinton show has been rescheduled for Jan. 19, according to an email from the venue. Tickets bought for the Dec. 13 show will be honored. ETix will refund tickets at point of purchase.
While Delbert McClinton may not have been originally set to be the first performer to play Rhythms Live Music Hall — the Triangle’s newest music venue — it’s the latest event in a career full of highlights.
McClinton is a guy from Lubbock, Texas who somehow became the preeminent blues harmonica player of his generation, although much of his success on the Billboard charts (like his 1980’s hit “Givin’ It Up For Your Love”) falls within the Adult Contemporary genre. He also has a songwriting career (including the Emmylou Harris staple “Two More Bottles of Wine”) that has featured his work prominently in country music since the 70s.
In a way, the singer’s eclectic resume makes him the perfect opening night act for the new venue in Durham that’s set to open its doors to the public for the first time Thursday night. Rhythms Live Music Hall was originally slated for an opening weekend schedule that included Blood, Sweat, & Tears and Crystal Gayle, but, according to management, some unexpected construction delays forced the two acts to be rescheduled for dates to be announced later.
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To get you ready for McClinton’s show, we decided highlight some things about the Grammy-winning musician.
The Beatles opened for him during a tour of England
McClinton appears at the beginning of the hit song “Hey! Baby,” which Bruce Channel took to the top of the Billboard singles charts in March 1962. He was paid five dollars for his harmonica intro, and was booked to accompany Channel for a tour of England behind the strength of the song. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, McClinton downplays the legend that he taught John Lennon how to play harmonica. But he readily admits to having met the future rock legend while the Beatles were opening for Channel, and that he gave the young musician a tip or two along the path of the tour.
He has a personal link to JFK’s assassination
According to a biography about McClinton, “Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few,” the day of President John F. Kennedy’s death McClinton was running an errand when police cleared the road for the presidential motorcade. By the time he returned from his task and was recounting the story of locking eyes with and waving at JFK, his friend told him that Kennedy had been murdered just an hour before.
A few months later, McClinton found himself being questioned by the FBI, as they had found his name listed inside one of Jack Ruby’s notebooks. It was quickly determined that it was merely due to the musician having played some Ruby-owned clubs a number of times.
Don’t disrespect his work
Over the course of a recording career that began as a solo artist in the early ‘70s, McClinton has been signed at one time or another by a host of record companies that hits double digits. Even at the age of 78 the roots rocker isn’t afraid to cut ties with a label he feels isn’t appreciating what he is handing them. While he had partnered with New West Records on seven earlier albums, he wasn’t met with the enthusiasm he was expecting when he handed them his latest, 2017’s “Prick of the Litter.”
“I think [the album’s] really good and I want somebody else to think it’s really good if they’re going to be working on it,” he told PopMatters upon the disc’s release. He took the recordings to Thirty Tigers, and the tastemaker label quickly snatched it up.
Who: Delbert McClinton
When: The show has been rescheduled from Dec. 13 to Jan. 19.
Where: Rhythms Live Music Hall, 2020 Chapel Hill Rd. Suite 33, Durham 27707