A Rare Appearance by Lee Ritenour


Lee Ritenour
  • Lee Ritenour
It's rare to find a musician accomplished enough to have played and recorded with such luminaries as Oliver Nelson, Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, Lalo Schifrin, and Stanley Turrentine. Lee Ritenour has been there and done that. He came of age, precociously, at a time when the giants of 20th Century American music still walked the earth, still young enough to carry the torch into the current era. And on Thursday, June 21, he'll be playing in Memphis at Lafayette's.

Oh yes, and perhaps you remember listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall long ago, and wishing the band would drop the disco and just rock out, until the burning track "Run Like Hell" came on and you heard them turn it up to 11. As it happens, that was Ritenour as well, brought in to beef the song up. He's no stranger to such pop accomplishments, having played his first recording session at age 16, on a track by the Mamas and the Papas. And if you're a fan of "Strawberry Letter #23" by the Brothers Johnson (and who isn't?), well, then you're a fan of Lee Ritenour. So was famed Memphian Maurice White, who Ritenour collaborated with on the record "If I'm Dreaming, Don't Wake Me."

Naturally, he's fared well as a solo artist as well, releasing his first record over 40 years ago, and sending the single "Is it You" with singer Eric Tagg to #15 on the Billboard pop charts in 1981. Dubbed "Captain Fingers" for his mad skills, he also kept those skills accessible with one ear cocked to the glories of pop, funk, Brazilian, classical, and rock guitar. He's been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards, taking one home in 1986 for the instrumental "Early A.M. Attitude".

Thursday is a rare chance to see this decade-spanning artist, still in his prime at 66 years young. We recommend that you do just that.

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