Chris Gaffney (October 3, 1950 – April 17, 2008) was a singer and songwriter from the American Southwest. His career, both as a solo artist and as a member of several bands, was as eclectic as his musical tastes. Although he never achieved wide-spread fame, Gaffney, who died at the age of 57 from liver cancer, left his mark on country, rock, soul, and other forms of American music. In its obituary, the LA Times described Gaffney as "a peer of Dave Alvin, Los Lobos, X and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in chronicling the life of Southern California."
A self-described "army brat", Gaffney was born in Vienna, Austria then moved to Livorno, Italy and New York as a young child. But Gaffney grew up primarily in southern California and Arizona. In addition to music, Gaffney loved sports, especially boxing, and earned an LA Golden Gloves championship in 1967 and even trained with boxing hall-of-famer Jackie McCoy.
As a child, he learned to play the accordeon and listened to norteno, country, and rock & roll. As a teenager, Gaffney played in various house band and eventually released his first solo album, Road To Indio, in 1986. Produced by friend Wyman Reese, his debut album demonstrated his "genre-bending" tastes by showcasing forays into honky tonk, soul, and Bakersfield country.
His next album was as Chris Gaffney & The Cold Hard Facts. Released in 1990, this album revealed Latino influences and dealt with issues of poverty and working-class life. Two years later, Gaffney released Mi Vida Loca which has been described as a "cross between Merle Haggard and The Blasters." His next solo album, Loser's Paradise (2003), was produced by Gaffney's friend Dave Alvin and featured contributions from Lucinda Williams and Jim Lauderdale.
In addition to his solo and band work, Gaffney has also toured as a member of Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men and contributed to albums by Lucinda Williams, The Iguanas, Tom Russell, Christy McWilson, The Lonesome Strangers and Billy Bacon.
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