Chris Whitley
Biography Timeline
Timeline

1960 August 31. Christopher Becker Whitley, Born in Houston, TX

1960-77 The family made their home in Connecticut, Mexico & Vermont. Chris gets in contact with the music his parents listen to, "race radio": Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bukka White, as well as more rock oriented bands like Cream, Traffic and Mountain. The first record Chris buys is Jimi Hendrix' "Smash Hits". He's also very impressed by "Led Zeppelin III", which combines acoustic folk, mandolins, blues, psychedilia and rock.

1971 First musical public appearance in Connecticut. Plays harmonica in cover band (songs by Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, The Rolling Stones)

1974 Friend of the family gives Chris his first guitar, a Hagstrom Electric, which he later trades for a National

1977 Moves to New York City. Busks the streets, performs in the bars and clubs of NYC

1978 New York City. Played guitar in another band (Blue), gigged at CBGB's to name but one, and records a demo at The Record Plant

1981 Meets Belgian travel agent, Dirk Vandewiele in Washington Square Park, NYC. Vandewiele helps Chris fly to Belgium to play a few gigs. Whitley remains in Gent, Belgium for nearly a decade. First gig at "Mallemunt" - July '81 in Brussels.

1982 Forms his own band, Noh Rodeo, with girlfriend Hélène Gevaert, her brother Alan Gevaert (who would become his on-and-off bass player throughout the nineties) and Marc Claeys, aka Little Jimmy. The band plays a weird mixture of dobro and percussion. A very first version even includes NYC friend Peter Conway on harmonica (Conway would do the same thing on Chris' critically acclaimed debut Living With The Law)

1983 Plays guitar on Nacht Und Nebel's "Beats Of Love", which becomes a dance floor hit in Belgium and France. Returns to New York for a few months, where he records with Material's Marcus Miller, John Zorn and Arto Lindsay. This recording hasn't surfaced yet.

1984 Plays guitar and guitar synth in yet another band called Kuruki on their singles "Marina Key/Just a Cat" and "Action". A Noh Rodeo-track ("Trojan Kiss") appears on a Belgian cassette sampler "Mad In Belgium 3". Appears as guest on Alan Fawn's "The Third Man"

1986 Noh Rodeo releases the mini-LP "Cool & Groovy", a very European sounding electro-pop-funk record.

1987-1988: Noh Rodeo-split, marriage with Hélène Gevaert, birth of daughter Trixie, Chris goes solo again and on occasions performs with Little Jimmy. Writes " Big Sky Country", "Bordertown" and "Phonecall From Leavenworth", which would later feature his solo debut

1988 returns to New York with wife and daughter. Finds a job in a picture framing factory, but continues to write and play

1990 Meets famous singer-songwriter and U2-producer Daniel Lanois, and soon is signed to Columbia Records

1991 releases his solo debut "Living With the Law" (Columbia), a record full of unique and original tracks with a serious folk blues slant. Opens up for Bob Dylan on his European tour, performs at the famous Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland) and opens up for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their American tour. "Best Debut of 1991" according to Rolling Stone.

1992 European, American and Australian tour. Guest musician on Cassandra Wilson's "Blue Light Till Dawn" and Shawn Colvin's "Fat City". Appears on soundtracks for "Fathers And Sons" and "Thelma and Louise"

1993 guest musician and singer/songwriter on Rob Wasserman's "Trios". Appears on another movie soundtrack, "So I Married An Axe Murderer"

1994 Plays guitar on yet another Cassandra Wilson record, "New Moon Daughter"

1995 Divorce. Releases "Din Of Ecstasy", a loud, raw and intense electric record, totally unlike the succesful "Living With The Law". Regarded by some as his best and most intense work, equal to Neil Youngs "Tonight's The Night" and Lou Reed's "Berlin", rejected by a lot of early fans. American and European tour. Appears as guest on Mike Watt's "E-ticket Ride/Piss-Bottle Man"and "Mundsurfin'", a record by the Belgian artist Dirk Blanchart

1996 American tour as support for Warren Zevon. Guest on Goatboy's "Supercop"

1997 releases "Terra Incognita", a musical mixture of his previous records. American and small European tour. Whitley and Sony part ways, due to lack of commercial success. Guest on Melissa Sheehan's "Kneel"

1998 Is signed as the first artist to the new Messenger label. Releases the successful solo acoustic "Dirt Floor", recorded in two days in a barn in Vermont. Starts a seemingly neverending tour throughout The States and Europe. Supports Alanis Morrissette. Plays guitar and sings on Goat's "Great Life" and "Wood" by Johnny Society. "Two Hands Clapping" by drummer Billy Ward is released. Chris delivers two of his own tunes, which were already recorded in 1993, and a cover version of "I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)" for "Superbad @65: A Tribute to James Brown"

1999 continues touring throughout Europe and the States. releases "Live at Martyrs", recorded during a 3-day residence at Martyrs, Chicago, IL. Opens for Government Mule and Johnny Lang on their US-tours. Plays guitar on Joe Henry's "Fuse"

2000 Another European tour. Accompanied by Billy Martin and Chris Wood from the famous jazz trio Medeski-Martin-Wood, he releases the cover record "Perfect Day", on which he interprets songs by The Doors, Bob Dylan and Robert Johnson, a.o. Followed by a short US tour with former Soul Coughing-members Yuval Gabay and Sebestian Steinberg. Release of "Hellhounds On My Trail"-DVD, a report a show held in Cleveland in '98, in honour of Robert Johnson. The DVD includes a solo performance of "Hellhounds On My Trail", and Chris plays guitar on "Walkin' Blues". Chris sings on Melissa Sheehan's "Goodnight Curve" and plays on Johnny Society's "Clairvoyance"

2001 European tour with Alan Gevaert back in. Signed to Dave Matthews' ATO records. releases "Rocket House", a weird mixture of electronica, dobro and trip hop-blues. Guest musicians include Bruce Hornsby and DJ Logic. American full band tour including DJ Logic, small European tour only accompanied by DJ BigWiz. Appears on Chocolate Genius' "Godsmusic" and Steve Almaas' "Kingo A Wild One"

2002 intensive one month German tour as support of local heroes Stoppok, immediately followed by a US tour. Sony releases the compilation album "Long Way Around-An Anthology" which features some previously unreleased demos and alternate mixes. Moves to Dresden, Germany with Susann Buerger. Releases the atmospheric "Pigs Will Fly", a German movie soundtrack, together with Kai-Uwe Kohlschmidt and Warner Poland. Appears as guest on former Soul Asylum-singer Dave Pirner's "Faces and Names" and Ely Guerra's "Lotofire". Delivers a song for the score of the Clint Mansell-movie "Knockaround Guys"

2003 Releases the acoustic jazzy "Hotel Vast Horizon" with Matthias Macht and Heiko Schramm. States and EU tour with the same band. releases "Weed", an acoustic interpretation of some of his older tunes, recorded on minidisc in his Dresden bathroom

2004 releases the raw and intense solo acoustic and socially-politically engaged "War Crime Blues", followed by two American tours

2005 Another full band electric record, again produced by LWTL-producer Malcolm Burn: "Soft Dangerous Shores", a unique but dark intimistic trip hop-blues record with the HVH-band. Australian and US-tour. Records two more albums, an electric full band effort, and a duo record with Australian singer/singrwiter Jeff Lang. Both are still unreleased

 

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