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"I've been doing this for 43 years. It's been killing me and keeping me alive at the same time".
When a lot of people first heard Delbert McClinton's scintillating and sizzling "Givin' It Up For Your Love" come churning over the airwaves in 1981 they probably figured he was a new artist celebrating his first hit. Well, they'd be half right, Delbert was enjoying his first hit but he hadn't been a new artist since the early '60s, when he recorded for legendary Ft. Worth eccentric "Major" Bill Smith on his LeCam label.
In point of fact, McClinton's first album, following these Crazy Cajun sides, was made with Glen Clark and was issued as Delbert & Glen in 1972 on Clean Records, affiliated with Atlantic. By the time "Givin' It Up" hit, McClinton had already issued an additional six albums, including another Delbert & Glen project and five solo efforts for ABC and Capricorn.
However, "Givin' It Up" didn't even mark his first chart record; that honor goes to "If You Really Want Me To, I'll Go", a 1965 release on Smash Records that scraped the bottom of the "Hot 100" for the Ron-Dels, with Delbert as lead singer.
And if you really want to know when Delbert was first heard on record, you'll have to go all the way back to 1962 and Bruce Channel's monster pop record, "Hey Baby" for that was McClinton supplying the superb harmonica licks for his Fort Worth pal. (The nitpickers and music historians among you probably know that the record was actually released in 1961, on Le Cam, before being licensed by Smash).
Today, thirty-six years after "Hey Baby" -- and the harmonica lessons he gave John Lennon when Channel toured England (anyone notice a similarity in the "harp" sound on "Hey Baby" and "She Loves You"?) -- Delbert McClinton has earned success as a hit songwriter, rock singer, soul belter and even as a country crooner. There are many, this writer among them, who feel that McClinton is the best white soul singer to ever step before a microphone. His latest album, 1997's “One Of The Fortunate Few”, issued on MCA's short-lived offshoot Rising Tide Records, represented some of his finest work to date and earned him his first appearance on the country singles chart as a solo artist for "Sending Me Angels".