Little Feat’s Richie Hayward: 1946-2010, co-founder of Little Feat, has died. He was 64.
Our brother Richie Hayward was the baddest drummer that ever picked up sticks, the rhythm and pulse of Little Feat, and we lost him yesterday, August 12th, to pneumonia and complications from lung disease. Our prayers are with his soul mate Shauna, and all those who loved him. May he find peace.
Some of you might like to know more about Richie. He was born February 6, 1946 in Clear Lake, Iowa. He was in a band called The Factory in Los Angeles whose front man was Lowell George. Eventually, Lowell joined Frank Zappa, offered him the song “Willin’,” and Frank wisely said, “Go start your own band, son.” The result was Little Feat, and Richie was the first and, until his health took him off the kit in 2009, eternal drummer for Feat. He was the master of space, time, and drums, and he had as much to do with Feat’s sound as Lowell’s voice, Billy Payne’s keys, Paul’s and Fred’s guitars, Kenny’s bass, or Sam’s percussion.
Don’t just take Feat’s opinion: Richie played with seemingly half the members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at one time or another, an LA session star who was a peer of people like Ry Cooder and Van Dyke Parks. He recorded and performed with Eric Clapton, James Cotton, Bob Dylan, Buddy Guy, Robert Plant, Carly Simon, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon, and many, many more.
The world’s a little quieter and a lot less rhythmic today, although heaven’s a lot funkier. We urge everyone to hug your loved ones, light a candle, listen to something righteous, and pledge to give more to the world – because Richie sure did.
Richie came into this world kicking and screaming on February 6, 1946 as a budding baby boomer. First memory is of clear Lake Iowa and running away from first day of kindergarten.
Liked it a lot. Moved to Ames, Iowa at 6 and a half, still loving school.
Then one fine day he saw Count Basie on the tube. Sonny Payne is kicking ass. Comes the dawn obsession sets in. This had to be it… drums, yeah that’s for me. Stix on an orange crate and pound to records. Then came Ray Charles and Miles and Bobby Blue Bland, Sonny Rollins, Bruebeck, Kenton and then it’s time to add two more orange crates.
HAD TO HAVE DRUMS NOW!!! Finally got them around the age of ten and made so much noise they put him in the cellar. But he got out…
First gig was New Years Eve 1959 almost 13 years old at the Moose Lodge in Nevada, Iowa (Moose, Elk, Eagles, ya gotta love the Animal Circuit :-)
Then he discovers girls and with that, rock and roll and the decision that this is the life. No other kind of work worked you see. Drumming in Iowa: no future, no way.
Ahhh, Californy is the place he ought to be so, that’s the tickets so he flies west with 85 ducats in his pocket on a one way ticket.
1966, knocking around LA and see an ad in the Free Press that says ”Drummer Wanted, Must Be Freaky“. That’s me says he and this turns out to be Lowell George and a band called the Factory. Another floundering band from LA, painfully hip.
The madness continues for almost two years and then blows up, disbanded. From the debris grew a toadstool called ”The Fraternity of Man“ funny name for a band that hated each other. Folly Balderdash.
Lowell renters the scene, fresh from the Zappa experience and there’s talk of a new band. Enter Billy Payne, next the name??? Why not Little Feat after Lowell’s earth pads?
Fourteen bass players later enter Roy Estrada, yeah a record deal and now were cooking. Two records later exit Estrada who goes to Captain Beefheart for stability and sanity… yeah.
So now enter Paul, Kenny and Sam and it’s on with the show. Dixie Chicken and such, moving along and having some kind of fun. Touring, recording and getting weird. Richie gets side work doing records with Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks, Jon Cale, Doobies, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Frampton, Carly Simon, Robert Palmer and more.
The following years were turbulent but productive till that black day in June of 1979. Lowell was gone. Loss, sorrow confusion and farewell. No more Feats.
Ah, but wait, there’s more… Richie gets work and just in time too. Joan Armatrading, then Robert Plant, sessions, tours, a cast of thousands. Piece work colorful but not by deluxe.
But here comes the good part, Featsters reunite just for fun and the spark is still there. Let’s do it! Yeah! And here we go, on with the show.
Richie Hayward’s Links