From early stints in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Canned Heat to a solo career a quarter-century later; veteran bluesman Walter Trout still plays earth shattering blues rock music. In between there has been musical fireworks, critical acclaim and fists-aloft triumph, offset by wilderness years and brushes with the jaws of narcotic oblivion.
A native of New Jersey, his practical schooling began in earnest when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1974, and promptly earned his reputation as an A-list sideman, backing John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulsom, Percy Mayfield and Joe Tex. In 1981, he joined the remaining original members of the legendary Canned Heat, but the real turning-point was his five-year tenure with British blues giant John Mayall, who invited Trout to become the latest in the Bluesbreakers’ lineage of guitar greats (including Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor).
Trout founded his own solo band in 1989 and cut his debut album ‘Life In The Jungle’ that same year, rapidly becoming a chart-topping star in Europe. His first stateside release, 1998’s critically heralded ‘Walter Trout’, made him a fixture of the US blues-rock scene.
Over the decades, Trout has accumulated numerous honours. He is a three-time winner of the Overseas Artist Of The Year title at the British Blues Awards, and in 2015, he won the Sena European Guitar Award, an honour he shares with acclaimed past winners like Brian May, Steve Lukather and Slash. Trout’s six-string prowess also earned him 6th best guitarist in a BBC Radio listeners’ poll.
For his 2017 album, ‘We’re All In This Together’ Trout drafted in fourteen stars, including Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayall and Randy Bachman, and wrote an original song for each. The album debuted at No.1 on the Billboard Blues Chart and stayed in the Top Ten for over three months. It also debuted at No.2 on the Billboard New Artist Chart, and continued on both charts for over 20 weeks. The album was added to Apple Music’s popular Blues A-list playlist and has been streamed more than one million times on Spotify. Walter has just received two Blues Music Awards nominations for Best Rock Blues Album and Best Rock Blues Artist.
Trout does not plan to rest on his laurels following the success of the album. Having survived a near-death bout with liver disease and a liver transplant in 2014, he is now full of energy and joie de vivre, and wants to make every note, every gig, and every day count. “I’m 66 years old,” he says, “but I feel like I’m in the best years of my life right now. I feel better than I have in years physically. I have more energy. I have a whole different appreciation of being alive, of the world, of my family, of my career. I want life to be exciting and celebratory. I want to dig in. I want to grab life by the balls and not let go, y’know…?”
Walter Trout is performing at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday 6 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £25 in advance or £27.50 on the door, ring the box office on 01284 758000 or see the website www.theapex.co.uk for more details, or to book.