The Daily Gamecock

Multi Grammy winner Delbert McClinton to perform in Newberry this weekend

Multi Grammy award-winner Delbert McClinton will perform at the Newberry Opera House this Saturday. Although he may not be a household name, many are familiar with McClinton’s work with notable artists including Etta James, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Channel.

McClinton is an American blues-rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist and harmonica player.  He has won multiple Grammys including Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2002 and 2006, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1992 for his duet with Bonnie Raitt, “Good Man, Good Woman.”

McClinton’s musical career has spanned over five decades, with the release of 19 studio albums to date.

“Why would I stop? It’s the only thing I do. I’ve done this all my life and it is a lot of fun. I’m having a better time right now than I’ve ever had,” McClinton said. He was only 13 years old when a friend of his brother came to his childhood home and brought a guitar with him.

“That guy taught me three chords, and I played them until my fingers bled,” McClinton said.

He recalled the origin of rock ‘n’ roll music and culture during his adolescence in the early 1940’s. “I had to be a part of it,” he said. Both rock ‘n’ roll and blues influences are present in McClinton’s music. He has been praised on his seemingly effortless ability to blend genres in his songs.

His most recent album, “Prick of the Litter,” by Delbert McClinton & Self-Made Men, was released on Jan. 27.

One obstacle McClinton and his bandmates encountered was the process of naming the album. “It’s hard to name anything these days,” he said. Eventually, someone suggested “Pick of the Litter,” which eventually evolved into “Prick of the Litter.”  The album features strong jazz and soul influences. “It's got some songs that are crooners, so that’s a bit of a departure for me to sing,” he said, “you've got to try and keep it fresh. I got with a couple of friends of mine, who are also bandmates, and we started writing together and it worked really well, so we did it a lot more and wrote this record.”

“If you look up 'prick' there's about seven different definitions of it. Of course, it’s pretty obvious what this is, but it’s funny, it’s clever and you don’t forget it,” McClinton said. The record name certainly has generated some mild controversy. According to McClinton, a radio station in Nashville was reluctant to name the correct album title on the air and wanted to call it “Pick of the Litter.” McClinton refused, and eventually the host correctly identified the record.

In addition to touring and writing new music, McClinton also hosts the “Delbert McClinton & Friends Sandy Beaches Cruise.” The upcoming year will be the 24th annual cruise that McClinton hosts.

In 1962, McClinton received commercial success when he was featured on Bruce Channel’s hit, “Hey! Baby.” McClinton performed the classic harmonica melody present in the song.

McClinton went on a European tour with Channel in the ‘60s. They traveled to the United Kingdom to perform with a then little known Liverpool band, The Beatles.

“On that tour it got to be every night somebody from one of the other bands would show up in the dressing room with a harmonica, wanting to know how to play the part on “Hey! Baby,” McClinton said. One of these individuals included John Lennon himself.

“This was before they changed the world, so we were all pretty much on common ground,” he said. “He commented on it in an interview a couple of times years ago, and it got chiseled in stone that I taught him everything.”

“It’s something that travels through time and as it travels the more romantic it gets,” he added. 

McClinton has visited South Carolina numerous times before, but he is looking forward to performing here this weekend. “Any place I have a good night is my favorite place,” McClinton said.