Lonnie Brooks hit a milestone birthday on December 18th, his 80th. To celebrate the event his family and friends are throwing a birthday party for him on Saturday Dec. 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Chicago’s House of Blues. Tickets are $30.00. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Dan (Elwood J. Blues) Ackroyd will be Master of Ceremonies at the party of the year honoring Lonnie. The patriarch of Chicago’s first family of the blues, Lonnie will be joined by his sons Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks. Additional guests will include Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Otis Taylor, Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Eddie Shaw, Otis Clay, Billy Branch, Lil’ Ed Williams, Jelly Bean Johnson and Big Head Todd (Big Head Todd and the Monsters).
Lonnie has been pleasing Chicago blues fans since he arrived in 1960. Born in Dubuisson, Louisiana in 1933 as Lee Baker Jr., he learned to play guitar from his banjo playing grandfather. He didn’t think about playing music professionally until he moved to Port Arthur, Texas in the 1950s. There he witnessed performances by B.B. King, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, T-Bone Walker and Long John Hunter. One day while strumming guitar on his front porch, Clifton Chernier heard him playing and offered him a job with his band.
After going out on his own, Lonnie recorded several singles for the record label Goldband as Guitar Junior. “Family Rules” was a regional hit and remains a favorite in south Louisiana and southeast Texas. Other singles included “Made In The Shade” and “The Crawl”. “The Crawl" was later recorded by the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Once in Chicago, Lonnie found that someone else was already using the moniker Guitar Junior. He changed his stage name to Lonnie Brooks. He found work on Chicago’s west side, Rush Street, Gary and East Chicago, Ind. In addition to playing the Chicago area regularly, Lonnie and his sons maintain a special presence in northwest Indiana. The fans display a special adoration for them unlike anywhere else.
Lonnie recorded a series of 45’s for several labels, including Chess and Mercury, getting some local radio play. He also played for others, including Jimmy Reed. He played guitar on the double album Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. In 1969, Lonnie recorded his first album, “Broke an’ Hungry” for Capitol Records. In 1974, he toured Europe with a multi-artist tour that lead to his next recording “Sweet Home Chicago” for French label Black & Blue. In 1978, Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records included several of Lonnie’s tunes on a collection titled “Living Chicago Blues”. That was followed by his first full Alligator release “Bayou Lightning”. Lonnie has recorded several more for Alligator since.
Lonnie has won many awards and has toured around the world. He has been showcased on German television and England’s BBC radio. Lonnie appeared in the Blues Brothers 2000 and The Express movies. He has been invited on stage by Eric Clapton. Some of his songs have appeared in movies and commercials. He also co-authored the book “Blues for Dummies” with his son Wayne.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this Chicago legend perform with this all-star group.