Award-winning guitarist Doug Hamblin grew up in Daly City, outside of
San Francisco. By the time he was ten, music was coming at him from all directions:
the Beatles/Stones/British Invasion, Cream and Hendrix he heard on the radio, Sly
Stone down the street, and the black R&B and soul records his cousins loved.
He found the records of Son House and Charlie Patton at the local public
library, and that began an ongoing passion for acoustic blues and roots music.
Doug began 'busking' as a teenager, picking out Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Watson
fingerstyle country blues and rock n roll on San Francisco streetcorners and coffeehouses
like the Family Pharmacy, and occasionally sneaking into a bar to catch Albert Collins,
or Michael Bloomfield.
In the late 70s there was a minor music revival taking place-
punk rock and new wave - and Doug found himself as guitarist in the power
pop band Jo Allen and The Shapes, a regional smash act who recorded several
sides for Howie Klein's 415 Records during the height of the "New Wave". Loud, frenetic
and full of catchy pop melodies, the Shapes burned fast and bright, headlining punk
spots like the Mabuhay Gardens and The Palms, and sharing bills with the likes of
Robert Palmer, (who had a hit with Allen's "Jealous"), Tommy Tutone,
and The Ramones.
Doug relocated to a funky flat on Rampart Street in New Orleans, and worked an Albert
King-inspired barehanded approach, to the guitar. He saw The Meters and Dr.
John, jammed on his front steps with a down-on-his-luck- at-the-time Mighty
Sam McClain, and put together a ragtag group that played "every dive
in town-and there were a lot of em- from the RoseTatoo to Jimmy's, and opened for
the Neville Bros in the Quarter.
Back in SF in 1986 Doug met vocalist Jan Fanucci, and their first single Doug produced,
"Like It This Way" became a local hit, and they were soon signed to independent
Blueprint Records. The debut LP, Doug Hamblin-Jan Fanucci featured some of
the Bay Area's prominent blues players (eg. keyboardist Jimmy Pugh,
now with Robert Cray; longtime Van Morrison bassist David Hayes; stellar guitarist
Amos Garrett). received 5 star raves in the Gavin Report and CMJ (College
Music Journal) and was an instant hit in various markets in the U.S.and Europe,
both in the blues world and on commercial rock radio. (CD now reissued on Fat City Records).
Doug and Jan, already a strong local draw, began touring with the strength of solid
radio play, selling out San Francisco's Great American Music Hall, Seattle's
Backstage and Aspen,s Paradise club. The LP's first single, "Let's Make Love", finally
peaked at #6 on Billboard Magazine's Top Ten for radio airplay in the Pacific Northwest,
and earned Doug a Bammy nomination for Blues Artist of the Year (which was eventually
won by Neil Young and the Blue Notes...)
Doug continued touring the US and Canada, as a headliner and on bills with
blues giants such as Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor, Dr. John and
many others. Doug's first self-produced solo release, 1991's American Dreamer was a soulful mix of blues, New Orleans-style R&B and rock that
furthered Doug's reputation as a master guitarist, gritty singer and eclectic songwriter...
that CD's track 'Nobody's Fool' was later covered twice, by Alligator Records artists
SAFFIRE: THE UPPITY BLUES WOMEN
on their BROADCASTING
CD, and (in a nine minute
version) by soul singer Sidney Ellis
(Ask a Woman Who Knows
Doug formed BLUES DE LUXE with veteran R&B shouter Southside Johnny Lyon.
(from the ASBURY JUKES) in 1991. They headlinedtop LA clubs like the Palomino
and Ventura Theater, and recorded several songs (including Charles Brown's
classic "Please Come Home for Christmas"for the soundtrack to the blockbuster
film HOME ALONE.
Doug formed trio Prodigal Son, working the LA club scene, and began writing
and touring with Johnny Rivers (and co wrote "Closer To You"
featured on his Last Train to Memphis). Doug has also been with Bruce Willis
since 1993 in The Accelerators; touring worldwide, from the Korean DMZ to Jakarta,
Seoul to San Antonio; and making music for various Willis projects like Bruno the
Kid, and The Whole Nine Yards. In 1998 Doug joined the Stephen Stills Band.
That band eventually served as house band for the 4th Annual Blues Foundation
Lifetime Achievement Awards at the House of Blues in LA, where Doug backed legends
Ruth Brown, Bobby Blue Bland and Ray Charles.
Doug has written for and produced other singers, notably blues/gospel belter
SOULSKIN's Karen Kraft (soloist with the First AME Church) and New Zealand songwriter
Helen Henderson. Doug has scored tv and film, and worked on
John Prine's Grammy-nominated
Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings.
Doug Hamblin produced LA-based Mason South's debut CD in 2003. (see
He also produced tracks for rockabilly and new-wave queen Pearl Harbor.