"Wish You Were Here"
...Lee Fields & the Expressions live in Detroit
A hit with the younger crowd — this, after four decades of pounding the road and getting older all the while. Lee Fields is 65. And the irony is, the better he gets, the more he sounds like the 1960s. Born Elmer Lee Fields in North Carolina, it is likewise ironic that some of the first bands the soul master performed in when he was coming up were inspired by the British Invasion. For example, the Dave Clark Five. Fields once told a reviewer that he left home for New York at age 17 and was immediately sucked into the entertainment industry maelstrom caused by the Godfather of Soul. Lee’s first record, in 1961, was a cover of James Brown’s “Bewildered.”
By 1969, Fields was the tour vocalist with a band that went by many names before they settled on one: Kool and the Gang. Fields did not record with them, but he continued to put out singles under his own name, and by the early 1970s fortune found him with a song he wrote called “Let’s Talk It Over.” Still, Fields walked in the shadow of bigger stars, such as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. In ’79, he recorded his first full-length album, the proceeds of which he rolled into real estate. For a decade, Lee Fields put his music partially on hold and became a landlord.
- Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
But no matter — even Booker T sold real estate for a time when the music business got slow. Rentals made Fields enough money to buy recording gear and start his own label, through which he released his own records. Finally, in 2009, the planets aligned for My World, the album that pop critics and fans alike favored. It put him on the radar and back on the road for as many as 200 dates a year. After 16 albums, 40 singles, and 43 years, it came together, finally, and Lee Fields was an overnight success.
Lady Wray and Holy Hive also perform.