Welcome to the Delaney and Bonnie Archives
Rare Cool Stuff Unltd. proudly presents the Delaney and Bonnie Archives, an especially rich vein in the Alan Pariser Archives goldmine.
The Delaney and Bonnie Archives features rare and unpublished photos, interviews, memorabilia and master recordings by influential American rock ‘n’ soul legends Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, plus their backing band Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, Friend guitarist and solo artist Dave Mason and more.
At various times, the Friends also included Duane Allman, Greg Allman, Jimmy Carstein, Eric Clapton, Rita Coolidge, King Curtis, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Bobby Keys, Darrell Leonard, David Marks, Gram Parsons, Jim Price, Carl Radle, Leon Russell and Bobby Whitlock. The Delaney and Bonnie Archives include rare material by these artists as well.
Pariser (par-EE-zer) was an early fan and supporter of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, having introduced them to Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in 1968. He also served as the band’s manager, as well as Mason’s, during that golden era, and along with Clapton was instrumental in getting the band signed to Atlantic’s Atco label.
“Alan carried around this HUGE leather bag,” Bonnie Bramlett said. “When we were in the studio or on the road, if there was any tape or tidbit worth saving, we always gave ot to him and knew it was safe there.”
The artifacts Pariser collected help document the rise and demise of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, from their early days in 1968 until the couple parted ways in 1972, and the band broke up.
You’ll find these nuggets of rock history only at Rare Cool Stuff, thanks to our arrangement with the Pariser Estate. We invite you to explore the RCS Delaney and Bonnie Archives, enjoy, and let us know your favorites.
By Stephen K. Peeples
With Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason and Al Schmitt
Delaney and Bonnie and Friends co-founder Delaney Bramlett was born in rural Mississippi July 1, 1939, and learned how to sing and play guitar as a youngster. He landed in Los Angeles in 1959, became an active session musician, and from 1964-66, was a member of The Shindogs, the house band on the ABC-TV music series “Shindig!” that also included producer-piano player Leon Russell.
Bonnie Bramlett, born Bonnie Lynn O’Farrell Nov. 8, 1944, grew up in Alton, Ill., and also got an early start, as a blues and soul singer. She gigged with blues guitar legend Albert King when she was 13, and at 15, was the first white backup singer with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue (wearing a black wig and skin-darkening makeup).
The former Ikette moved to Los Angeles in 1967. She and Delaney met and soon started performing as a duo. They were married by the end of the year.
Delaney and Russell worked their music biz connections to land a recording deal for Delaney and Bonnie and Friends (to be named later) with Memphis-based Stax Records. The couple dubbed their backing group “Friends” because the lineup varied from gig to gig and album to album.
Alan Pariser Jumps On at Snoopy’s Carousel
Alan Pariser, a fixture on the L.A. club and studio scene and an early architect of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, caught an early Delaney and Bonnie and Friends club gig at Snoopy’s Carousel in North Hollywood. He was blown away by the husband-and-wife’s Southern blues-rock-soul songwriting and the band’s power onstage.
Pariser took the fledgling Delaney and Bonnie and Friends under his entrepreneurial wing, and for the next four years, helped with management, financing, and introductions to other well-known musicians who quickly became fans and musical collaborators as well.
As mentioned earlier, Friends at various times included Duane Allman, Greg Allman, Jimmy Carstein, Eric Clapton, Rita Coolidge, King Curtis, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Bobby Keys, Darrell Leonard, Dave Mason, David Marks, Gram Parsons, Jim Price, Carl Radle, Leon Russell and Bobby Whitlock.
Pariser documented many of Delaney and Bonnie and Friends’ celebrated adventures, among them opening for Blind Faith’s 1969 tour; touring with Eric Clapton as a Friend; recording Delaney and Bonnie albums; and Friends playing in the studio bands for epic solo debuts by Clapton (“Eric Clapton”), George Harrison (“All Things Must Pass”), and Mason (“Alone Together”), all in 1970.
Bobby Whitlock Becomes a Friend
The first Friend Delaney and Bonnie recruited was organist-singer Bobby Whitlock, also the first white solo artist signed to Stax’s HIP label.
Whitlock had learned blues and gospel growing up in the Deep South and rural Midwest. He made the pilgrimage to Memphis as a teenager, and hung out at the Stax studios, learning from the masters like Booker T. Jones, MGs members Donald “Duck” Dunn and Steve Cropper, and Stax engineer Ronnie Capone.
But Whitlock, then playing Hammond B3 in local clubs in Memphis with his band The Counts, was not too pleased with the kind of pop stuff the Stax/HIP label chiefs wanted him to record.
“I was singing rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues, and they wanted to give me some kind of bubblegum stuff. So, that was not going to work,” Whitlock said in a 2012 interview with the author.
“Then along came Delaney and Bonnie,” Whitlock said.
“Duck brought them out to (Memphis to) see us at the Cabaret Club,” he said. “I’m up there on the stage, doing my thing, singing ‘Tell Daddy’ or something. After the set, I went out and talked to them and they said they were putting together a band, wanted to know if I’d be interested in coming (to California). I hadn’t been any further (west) than Texarkana in Texas, so I said, ‘Hell, yeah!’ right there in front of Duck and everybody. And so I was gone in two days after that. We started Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, just Delaney and Bonnie and myself.”
Back in California, The Bramletts, Whitlock and Russell gathered up a bunch more Friends and recorded the first Delaney and Bonnie and Friends album, “Home,” out on Stax in early 1969. The album got buried in a flurry of other Stax releases, wasn’t promoted, and went nowhere. Switching labels to Elektra, they recorded “The Original Delaney and Bonnie and Friends (Accept No Substitute)” later that year.
Dave Mason Exits Traffic, Jams with Jimi, Joins Friends
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter-guitarist Dave Mason, who had co-founded the alternative British rock band Traffic with keyboardist and Spencer Davis Group alum Steve Winwood in early 1967, decided to exit the after recording the first two Traffic albums, out in late 1967 and spring 1968.
Mason hung out with Jimi Hendrix in England and New York and appeared on Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” album, out in October 1968 (acoustic 12-string guitar on “All Along the Watchtower” and vocals on “Crosstown Traffic”). Mason stayed in the U.S., landing in L.A., where at that point he knew only two people: country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons of Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers renown, and singer Cass Elliott of The Mamas & The Papas.
It was Parsons who took Mason to see Delaney and Bonnie at one of the Friends’ earliest club gigs, with Whitlock playing keyboards, Carl Radle on bass, Jimmy Carstein pounding drums and Bobby Keys blowing sax.
“They were just a kick–ass band,” said Mason, who began sitting in with the group.
Soon, Pariser was also managing Mason’s solo career; his first move was to sign up Mason as the Friends’ lead guitar player.
George Harrison, Eric Clapton Become Friends ‘On Tour’
Pariser, who also counted George Harrison among his personal friends, shared pre-release mixes of the second Delaney and Bonnie album with the soon-to-be-former Beatle. Harrison offered the duo a deal with Apple Records.
Problem was, they were still contracted to Elektra, so the Apple deal fell through. Elektra released the final mixes, but it likewise caused little stir, and the label dropped the band at the end of 1969.
The previous summer, though, at Harrison’s suggestion, Eric Clapton recruited Delaney and Bonnie and Friends as the opening act for a U.S. tour by Blind Faith, the new “supergroup” he formed with Spencer Davis Group/Traffic alum Steve Winwood.
Clapton famously came to spend more time hanging out and jamming with the opening act than he did with his Blind Faith mates. By August, Blind Faith was history, Clapton was a Friend, and he helped Delaney and Bonnie score a new deal with his label, Atlantic Records’ Atco.
As Mason noted, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends was a kick-ass band live, but the first two studio albums didn’t catch that mojo.
In December 1969, though, tapes were rolling when the group including Clapton, Mason, Harrison and others appeared onstage in the U.K., and the “On Tour with Eric Clapton” live album, out in spring 1970, scored gold. The album produced a minor hit single, “Coming Home,” and included Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know” (D&B scored a Top 20 hit with that in fall 1971).
Friends Moonlighting on Clapton, Harrison, Mason Solo Albums
Clapton also enlisted Delaney and Bonnie and an army of Friends to record his epic eponymous debut solo album in Los Angeles during late 1969 and early 1970 (the duo co-wrote “Let it Rain” with Clapton).
That spring, Clapton began working on a new band, Derek & The Dominos, with Friends Mason, Whitlock, Radle and Gordon. As they were gestating, George Harrison called them to join his huge band of “All Things Must Pass” players.
In the summer, after a couple sessions and one live gig in the U.K., Mason bailed from the Dominos. “Eric was starting to get into heroin, so nothing was getting done,” Mason said in a 2014 interview with the author. “That wasn’t my scene. So I said, ‘I’m going back to the States, guys.’” He returned to Los Angeles to launch his solo career.
Derek & The Dominos went on to Miami to record the “Layla…And Other Assorted Love Songs” album in August/September 1970.
“C’est la vie,” Mason said.
Dave Mason and the ‘Alone Together’ Sessions
Once back in L.A., Mason signed a deal with Blue Thumb Records, rounded up a bunch of Friends and other L.A. session aces, and recorded his million-selling debut album, “Alone Together.”
Mason co-produced the sessions with Tommy LiPuma at Sunset Sound and Elektra Studios in Hollywood. Bruce Botnik of Doors renown engineered, and Al Schmitt mixed the final tracks.
“It was just so well-recorded, number one, but the songs – every one on ‘Alone Together’ is a killer,” said Schmitt, winner of 23 Grammy Awards, in a 2014 interview with the author.
“Alone Together” kicks off with Mason’s definitive version of his “Only You Know and I Know,” followed by the solo originals “Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving,” “Waitin’ on You,” “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave, “World in Changes,” “Sad and Deep as You” and “Just a Song.” Mason wrote the album’s powerful closer, “Look at You, Look at Me,” with former Traffic mate Jim Capaldi.
The Alan Pariser Archives include rare and previously unreleased tracks and mixes from the “Alone Together” sessions.
“Alone Together” is also memorable for its double fold-out package, designed by Pariser Group 3 partners Barry Feinstein and Tom Wilkes for Feinstein and Wilkes’ Camouflage Productions. The original package and pressing on marbleized multi-colored vinyl is now highly collectible.
Delaney and Bonnie and Friends’ subsequent albums included “To Delaney From Bonnie” (1970, including the minor double-sided hit “Soul Shake”/”Free the People”); “Motel Shot” (1971, including the Top 15 hit “Never Ending Song of Love”); and finally, “D&B Together” (1971; originally titled “Country Life” but rejected by Atco and renamed and released by Columbia Records in early 1972).
While Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett divorced in 1973, and their Friends went on to other bands and solo careers, those four magic years are documented for all time in RCS’s Alan Pariser and Delaney and Bonnie Archives.
(Delaney died in December 2008 at age 69. Bonnie is still alive and well at this writing.)
Title: Delaney and Bonnie and Friends Legacy
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Category: Alan Pariser Archives
Source: Rare Cool Stuff Unltd.