Delbert McClinton has had plenty of time to reflect on his 63-year music career during this pandemic. For the first time in six decades, he has been off the road and off stage for more than a year. He has made an important decision, with an announcement to his band members and organization on April 22nd.
“Here I sit, 80 years old, in the middle of a pandemic. This is not how I envisioned playing out my final years as an entertainer. Music has been my total being for my whole life,” he admits. “I had been considering finishing this year with a modest number of shows. But the more I thought about it, and the more obstacles that have been placed in front of me, the less my heart was in it.
“I don’t want to get up in front of audiences who might be the cause of my incapacity or death just because I want to play music. I don’t want to listen to anyone who won’t wear a mask or get a vaccine. We all have different values and they are inarguable.”
He continues, “I have had a decent career, and I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I would. With that in mind, this is a good time to retire.”
McClinton adds that this is a good time to close out his career, with a Grammy win (2020 Best Traditional Blues), a great album (Tall, Dark & Handsome: Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers), the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award, and the best band and crew with whom he has ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage (Self-Made Men + Dana).
“I’m leaving the stage with no regrets. I’ve done all that I set out to do and more. Retirement will allow me to enjoy my family and travel a bit as it becomes safer. It’s been a great ride,” he adds, as he looks forward to the next chapter.
McClinton was born on November 4th, 1940, in Lubbock, Texas, and moved with his family to Fort Worth. He worked in a bar band, the Straitjackets, who played backing Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed. After several album releases in the early 1970s, he earned his first real acclaim for penning “Two More Bottles of Wine,” a #1 country single for Emmylou Harris in 1978. A cover of his tune,”B Movie Box Car Blues,” was the first track on the Blues Brothers debut, Briefcase Full of Blues the same year.
His other three Grammy Awards were for Rock Performance by a Duo with Bonnie Raitt for “Good Man, Good Woman” in 1992; Contemporary Blues Album for Nothing Personal in 2002; and Best Contemporary Blues Album for Cost of Living in 2006. He has been nominated a total of eight times.
According to his Facebook page, Delbert is still scheduled to appear on the Sandy Beaches Cruise 27, with guests The Mavericks, Marcia Ball, The California Honeydrops, Marc Broussard, and many more.