Danny & the Fat Boys

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Washington, DC-born Danny Gatton (1945 -- 1994) was already attracting attention with his fiery electric guitar playing when he formed Danny and the Fat Boys in 1974. Having sharpened his skills as a…
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Washington, DC-born Danny Gatton (1945 -- 1994) was already attracting attention with his fiery electric guitar playing when he formed Danny and the Fat Boys in 1974. Having sharpened his skills as a member of a late-60s high school band, the Offbeats, and temporarily moving to Nashville in the early-70s, Gatton had briefly performed with a country band, Liz Meyer and Friends after returning to Washington, DC in June 1974.

Joining with vocalist Billy Hancock, pianist Dick Heintze, drummer Robbie Magruder, bass player Steve Wolf and tenor saxophonist Ralph McDuffie, Gatton formed Danny and the Fat Boys in late-1974. Although they released only one album -- American Music -- in October1975, the band masterfully showcased their diverse repertoire which included rockabilly ("Ubangi Stomp"), small combo jazz ("Harlem Nocturne"), R&B ("Memphis Disco Funk") and reggae ("Move On Down The Line"). A much-sought collector's item, the album failed to reach sales expectations when initially released and the group disbanded before recording a follow-up.

Launching a solo career, following the break-up of Danny and the Fat Boys, Gatton had no more success than he had with the band. Although he made his major label debut at the age of forty-six, Gatton was dropped by the label (Elektra) shortly after the album's release. A jazz album released on the Blue Note label failed to provide the hoped-for breakthrough, leaving Gatton frustrated and despondent. On October 20, 1994, he committed suicide in his Newburg, Maryland home.