Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown


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Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown (1924-2005) is best known for his work as a blues musician, but he incorporated country, jazz, Cajun music and R&B styles into his playing, adding his own originality into whatever he played. An acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, he played guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and viola as well as harmonica and drums. He is regarded highly as an exponent of blues fiddle and has had great influence in American fiddle circles.

Born in Vinton, Louisiana, and raised in Orange, Texas, Brown began his early professional music career playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. Once when working with T-Bone Walker, T-Bone became ill. Gatemouth rescued the situation by composing and playing "Gatemouth Boogie" on the spot, delighting the audience.

Brown first recorded for Peacock Records with his guitar instrumentals over punchy horn sections, like “Boogie Uproar” and the hit "Okie Dokie Stomp.” Later he recorded featuring his creative and rhythmic fiddle playing.

Brown moved to Nashville to record and participate in a syndicated R&B television show. He struck up a friendship with Roy Clark and made several appearances on Hee Haw.

The two recorded an album in Tulsa, “Makin’ Music”, and through the Jim Halsey Company, they toured in Europe with the Oak Ridge Boys, Barbara Mandrell, Jana Jae, and Buck Trent, including appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival. His American roots music took him on tour through Europe twelve times through the 70’s. Again through the Jim Halsey Company, he and Roy Clark toured the Soviet Union for a 44 concert tour in 1979.

Brown moved back to Louisiana, continued recording for Rounder Records, and continued touring extensively, playing 250 shows a year. He won a Grammy in 1983 for the album “Alright Again!” and was nominated for five additional Grammies. He won eight W.C. Handy Awards and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1999. In his last few years, he maintained a full touring schedule, including Australia, New Zealand, South America, Africa and Eastern Europe. His final record "Timeless" was released in 2004.

When Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer, he moved back to Orange, Texas and is honored with a Texas Historical Commission marker there. His music lives on as unique and inspired. He recorded over 21 original albums and was on another 20 compilation albums. Among others, rock composer Frank Zappa credits Gatemouth as an important influence on his playing. The National Fiddler Hall of Fame is proud to honor Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as a 2016 inductee.