Like the fictional Forrest Gump, Delbert McClinton seems sometimes to have gone
everywhere and done everything: Yes, he did teach the Beatles' John Lennon how to play harmonica
(at least he thinks it was Lennon... As Delbert once said, "It was back before they were important
enough to know which one was which."). Bluesman Jimmy Reed did once throw up all over Delbert McClinton's
brand-new Shure microphone. (Hey, you take your brushes with greatness where you can find 'em. Delbert
took the mic home, cleaned it with a toothbrush and put it back into service.) Delbert McClinton was
born in Lubbock, Texas in 1940, but he grew up -- in all senses of the word -- in Fort Worth.
Despite its roughshod Cowtown image, Fort Worth has long been an incubator for some of
the most vibrant music in America. Western swing, jazz, blues, country, rock, R&B and more all flowed from
this unlikely wellspring, and musicians were expected to play most of it and make people dance to all of
it. As Fort Worth native and longtime McClinton sideman Stephen Bruton once remarked, "You might play in a
country band, a rock band and a blues band, all in the same day. If you could play a shuffle, you could
work anywhere." A fellow Cowtown rocker named Bruce Channel took Delbert out of Fort Worth via a classic
radio hit of Channel's called "Hey! Baby," whose signature was Delbert McClinton's soaring harp lick.
In 1962, Channel -- with Delbert in tow -- toured England, where one of the members of a fledgling band
from Liverpool pestered McClinton for harmonica tips. Listen to the Beatles' "Love Me Do" and you can hear
the results of Delbert's tutelage. In 1992, Delbert McClinton won a Grammy for his duet with Bonnie Raitt
for the song "Good Man/Good Woman" from Raitt's album Luck of the Draw. The next year, another duet with
Tanya Tucker, "Tell Me About It," was nominated for a CMA award, and 1989's Live From Austin was nominated
for a Grammy for "Best Contemporary Blues Album." A second Top 10 hit, "Everytime I Roll the Dice,"
emerged from Delbert McClinton's 1992 album Never Been Rocked Enough.
Delbert McClinton moved to Nashville and, along with partner Gary Nicholson, became
one of the most sought-after tunesmiths in Music City. In recent years, his songs have been featured on
albums by Vince Gill, Wynonna, Lee Roy Parnell, Martina McBride, and others. There's been a lot of what
Delbert McClinton calls "mailbox money" coming in lately. Nashville is home to Delbert McClinton these
days, "home" being a concept that has to be adjusted to after almost four decades on the road.