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Biography

Hollywood Fats (born Michael Leonard Mann in Los Angeles, May 17, 1954- December 8, 1986) was a blues guitarist active in Los Angeles.

Fats started playing guitar at the age of 10. While in his teens, his mother would drive him to various clubs in South Central Los Angeles to jam with well-known blues musicians when they came to town. Fats came from a successful upper-middle-class family living in Santa Monica. His father was a doctor and his siblings went on to become doctors and lawyers. Fats was considered the black sheep of the family due to his artist nature and was supported by his family for a number of years. Two of the more famous blues men he met included Buddy Guy and Junior Wells who gave him the nickname. Fats toured with James Harman, Jimmy Witherspoon, J.B. Hutto, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Albert King, among others. Although Fats' "natural" style was more of a swingy T-Bone Walker type, by the age of 17 he was equally adept at all blues styles, playing behind each of these bandleaders as if he'd dedicated a lifetime to their style only.

During the 1970s and 1980s he worked with blues harmonica player and singer James Harman. He played on a number of his records including Extra Napkin's, Mo' Na'Kins, Please and Live in '85. It is on these recordings that one will find his most famous signature guitar licks. Other guitarists with whom he played included Junior Watson, Kid Ramos and Dave Alvin.

Fats was invited to be a sideman to Muddy Waters and later met harmonica player Al Blake. Blake had just moved to Los Angeles from Oklahoma. In 1974, Fats and Blake formed a band consisting of pianist Fred Kaplan, Richard Innes on drums and Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor called the Hollywood Fats Band.

For a King Biscuit Flower Hour concert (Sept.7, 1979), which was later to be released on record, Hollywood Fats played the lead guitar in Canned Heat.

The Hollywood Fats Band released a self-titled album in 1979, the only album under their name. The album did not create much stir, compared to those recorded with James Harman. The band broke up not long after and Fats continued to play with Harman's band, and The Blasters in 1986 replacing David Alvin.

In an unusual move, Fats also played with a non-blues band called Dino's Revenge from 1985 through 1986. He recorded three songs with Dino's Revenge as well as playing several live performances. The band consisted of Marshall Rohner of TSOL as well as Kevan Hill, Butch Acevedo and Steven Ameche all of The Twisters.

Fats died of a heroin overdose in 1986 in Los Angeles at the age of 32. He was plagued by drug abuse for a number of years prior to his death. At the time of his passing, he was playing with the James Harman Band, the Blasters, Dino's Revenge and was thinking about restarting the Hollywood Fats Band with Al Blake.

1979: The Hollywood Fats Band - PBR - the original release
1993: Rock This House - Black Top - Reissue of the 1979 album
2002: Hollywood Fats Band - CrossCut (German) - the complete 1979 recordings
2006: Larger Than Life - Delta Groove Productions - unissued live recordings

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