Influences - Little Feat (Richie Hayward)

   For 4-5 years during my late high school and the majority of college, while on Winter or Summer break, I'd always work at the Camelot Music in Braircliffe Mall in North Myrtle Beach, SC.  Like any record store, music played from open to close; always with something currently on sale or on the radio.  That was usually the only open product under the counter except for the returns and we weren't supposed to play the returns unless it fell under the current status.
     It must've been a slow Sunday as someone returned a vinyl double album of Little Feat's 1978 live album, "Waiting For Columbus" and a co-worker asked if I'd ever heard of them. This was before the band reunited in 1988, about 10 years before the Internet and I didn't remember hearing Little Feat on any FM radio station, ever.  What I would hear next would spin my head completely around, give me one of my biggest influences and send me down what the music of New Orleans had to offer.  Kinda weird coming from a band born in Southern California.
    All musicians can pick out those moments, the moments that turn you around; that make an impression so deep that it stays with you forever and you often revisit it.  This was the case for me and Little Feat.  The opening of "Waiting For Columbus" sounds like a back stage, right before the gig, sing-a-long but when they hit the beginning groove of "Fat Man In The Bathtub", the hook was IN!! Since we weren't supposed to be playing any music not released in the past 6 months, we took the record off after the first side.  By the end of the four songs on that side "Fat Man", "All That You Dream", "Oh Atlanta" & "Old Folks Boogie", Little Feat had me. THAT record was going home with me and I must find more...and who is this Richie Hayward guy on drums??
     I found more.  The next record I got by them was "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" and the first track of that knocked me out just the same as the live album had.  Rock & Roll Doctor (YouTube) became my "go to good mood tune" because no mater how things may be down, one listen to that song and it all seemed least for about 3 minutes.  Those two records opened doors to the rest of their catalog and Little Feat was the first band that really made me look to where they came from, especially since their sound changed drastically from their second album, "Sailin' Shoes" and third, "Dixie Chicken."  The change came from their discovery of the music of New Orleans, more specifically, The Meters, but they are certainly a longer topic possibly saved for another time.
    In 1988, Little Feat reunited almost ten years after the passing of the band's visionary, Lowell George.  They had a hit with the album, "Let It Roll", a ton of TV appearances and a tour.  Finally, I got a chance to see Richie Hayward up close at the Park Center in Charlotte and it was like hearing a drummer with more like eight limbs than four.  It was tough to see because of his large set up and he sat low so his head swaying was about the only thing to make out but there "it" was....THAT SOUND! It was like a locomotive train barreling down the tracks with the rest of the band riding on top. Not only that but Richie was singing ALL the high parts. Then there's Sam Clayton lending tasteful percussive backup and Kenny Gradney holding down the low end. It was a first show of a band I would get the chance to see a few times over the years and even "open" for once since a band I played in did a gig before and between acts at Carowinds and Feat was on the bill. 
     The last time I saw Little Feat was in a club in Louisville, KY that we'd played a month before with Gary Allan. I talked the club contact, Rob, into getting a few of us in if we made the drive from Nashville. Our guitarist, Jody Maphis, pals Doug Seibert and Roger Fox (RIP "Dad") and I made the trip up and were treated to a helluva show and the train that I'd heard long before was still chugging HARD. There were a couple specific things I was hoping to catch him doing and what came across in all those was how simple he had made all the movements from one drum/cymbal to another. One of the songs that really showed this was a track called Loco Motives by Little Feat  (YouTube) off then recently released album, "Under The Radar". 
He was playing underhand around the kit so fluently it just made sense. Seeing them that night probably had as much pull on me as the first time the needle dropped on "Waiting For Columbus". Since Maphis knows damn near anyone in the music business including a few of the Feat, we got to say hey to Richie after the show. He asked if we'd enjoyed the show and then pointed right at me saying, "And this one watched me all night long!!"
"Yeah," I said. "Just trying to figure out what you do, man."
Richie gave me a wink and said, "Yeah, Me too."

Rest In Peace Richie Hayward (1946-2010)
We Are Still Trying To Figure Out What You Do.