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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 September 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Texan Blues star Brown dies at 81
Clarence Gatemouth Brown
Brown won a Grammy for his album Alright Again! in 1982
Grammy-award winning guitarist and singer Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown has died in Texas at the age of 81.

Brown, who had been battling lung cancer and heart disease, was a versatile jazz and blues artist whose career took off in the 1940s.

The musician was "devastated " after his home in Slidell, Louisiana was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

"I'm sure he was heartbroken, both literally and figuratively," said his booking agent Rick Cady.

"He evacuated successfully before the hurricane hit, but I'm sure it weighed heavily on his soul."

The musician, who recorded with Eric Clapton and Ry Cooder during a career that spanned 50 years, died surrounded by his family at his brother's home in Orange, Texas.

Eclectic style

Born in Louisiana, but raised in Texas, Brown took an eclectic approach to music drawing influence from jazz, country and Texas blues, as well as the Cajun music of his native Louisiana.

Nicknamed "Gatemouth" for his deep voice, he cited his father, a railway worker and fiddle player, as his greatest musical influence. "If I can make my guitar sound like his fiddle, then I know I've got it right."

As his career blossomed in the late '40s, he recorded a string of hits including Okie Dokie Stomp and Ain't That Dandy - but later became frustrated by the limits of the blues genre and moved into country and jazz.

"He is one of the most underrated guitarists, musicians and arrangers I've ever met, an absolute prodigy," said Colin Walters, who is working on Brown's biography.

"He never wanted to be called a bluesman, but I used to tell him that though he may not like the blues, he does the blues better than anyone."


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