Delbert McClinton, Texas Roots Musician, Announces Retirement

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Delbert McClinton, in an undated photo from his Facebook page

Delbert McClinton, the Texas roots musician who enjoyed a banner year in 2020 when he turned 80 and earned his fourth Grammy Award, has announced his retirement. The announcement, on April 22, 2021, noted that for the first time in six decades, the Americana and blues performer had been off the stage for more than a year.

“Here I sit, 80 years old, in the middle of a pandemic,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “This is not how I envisioned playing out my final years as an entertainer. Music has been my total being for my whole life. I had been considering finishing this year with a modest number of shows. But the more I thought about it, and the more obstacles that have been placed in front of me, the less my heart was in it.”

He continued: “I don’t want to get up in front of audiences who might be the cause of my incapacity or death just because I want to play music. I don’t want to listen to anyone who won’t wear a mask or get a vaccine. We all have different values and they are inarguable.”

In modest fashion, he added, “I have had a decent career, and I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I would. With that in mind, this is a good time to retire.”

Just over a month after his retirement, McClinton was persuaded to perform once more. On May 25, he agreed to make a final U.S. performance which will take place at the 2021 Big Blues Bender festival in Las Vegas. He’ll play on opening night, Sept. 9, joining a lineup for the four-day event that also includes Buddy Guy, Bettye LaVette, Jimmy Hall, and dozens of others. No single-show tickets will be sold. McClinton’s performance is only available to Big Blues Bender attendees.

McClinton earned his fourth Grammy in 2020 for Best Traditional Blues album for Tall, Dark & Handsome, made with his band, Self-Made Men + Dana. His big year also included the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’m leaving the stage with no regrets,” he wrote. “I’ve done all that I set out to do and more. Retirement will allow me to enjoy my family and travel a bit as it becomes safer. It’s been a great ride.”

McClinton was born on Nov. 4, 1940, in Lubbock, Tex., and moved with his family to Fort Worth. After several album releases in the early 1970s, he earned his first real acclaim for penning “Two More Bottles of Wine,” a #1 country single for Emmylou Harris in 1978. His sole mainstream success was with his 1980 song, “Giving It Up For Your Love,” a #8 pop hit from the album, The Jealous Kind.

Watch him perform the song at Farm Aid in 1985

He earned his first of four Grammys in 1992 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo for his recording, “Good Man, Good Woman,” with Bonnie Raitt.

McClinton’s primary home is in Austin. He is still scheduled to perform on Sandy Beaches Cruise 27, set to sail in 2023.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Andy P
    #1 Andy P 26 April, 2021, 08:24

    I love the site. Have shared it with many of my boomer LN colleagues. We all agree it is terrific. My only wish is there would be more frequent book reviews. But I understand that is easier said than done. Keep it up! Andy P

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  2. Bob Sled
    #2 Bob Sled 26 April, 2021, 13:21

    Time to take it easy & enjoy your life; thank you for all the years – what a road warrior!

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