Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
HOLLYWOOD BLUE FLAMESBlues band based in Los Angeles. The Hollywood Blue Flames were originally formed in the 1970s as the The Hollywood Fats Band; the legendary Hollywood Fats (b Michael Mann, 17 March 1954; d 8 December 1986) was widely regarded as one of the finest blues guitarists in the business, but the blues at that time had a low profile in Los Angeles, the West Coast being obsessed with various strands of punk rock (indeed, Fats played with the Blasters briefly). He started playing guitar at age 10 and was taken around to blues clubs by his mother starting at age 13, and finally helped to ignite a West Coast Blues scene. The complete 1978 studio tracks of the Hollywood Fats Band were compiled on a well-filled CD on the Crosscut label in 2002, and the original band, with decades of experience among them, are still together as the Hollywood Blue Flames, recently adding rising star Eli Fletcher to make a quintet on their CD Soul Sanctuary (2005) from Delta Groove Productions.
Guitarist Alan 'Big Al' Blake [Eliel] (b 16 January 1945 on a U.S. Marine Corps base in Klamath Falls, Oregon, raised in Oklahoma) also contributed his country blues style playing to recordings by the innovative chromatic harmonica player William Clarke (b 29 March 1951; d 2 November 1996). Keyboardist Fred Kaplan (b 23 April 1954, Los Angleles) was mentored by the legendary Lloyd Glenn, an influential R&B pianist and A&R man since the 1940s. Kaplan has worked with such artists as Clarke, James Harman, Kim Wilson and many others. His album Signifying was released on Blue Collar. Drummer Richard Innes (b 9 April 1949, Colfax WA) has worked in the bands of Rod Piazza, and the Piazza/George 'Harmonica' Smith 'Bacon Fat' band of the 1960s, in addition to touring with Little Richard, among others. Bassist Larry Taylor (b 26 June 1943, Brooklyn New York) was a founder member of Canned Heat, and has toured and recorded with Wilson, John Mayall's Blues Breakers and John Hammond. Taylor was part of the Grammy-winning work of Tom Waits, and played in Martin Scorsese's Salute to the Blues concert at Radio City Music Hall in February 2003. He has pioneered the re-emergence of upright bass, citing as influences players such as Paul Chambers. Kirk 'Eli' Fletcher (b 23 December 1975, Lakewood CA, grew up in Compton) has been mentored by Blake, Wilson, and Junior Watson, and has also recorded with Wilson's Fabulous Thunderbirds. He is described by Blake as the best black blues guitarist to emerge in 50 years.