RIP Paul Barrere — Little Feat Guitarist Dead At 71

Photo: Instagram
How Did Paul Barrere Die? New Details On Death Of Little Feat Guitarist At 71.

Iconic guitarist Paul Barrere has passed away. Barrere had been one of the principal songwriters for the band Little Feat ever since he joined it in 1972. He also released several solo albums and collaborated with musicians such as Phil Lesh and Carly Simon. 

Little Feat enjoyed early success with founder George Lowell in the 1970s then split up after Lowell's death in1979. Eight years later, Barrere was one of the driving forces in getting the band back together. They have been recording and touring ever since. This year, they were on the road doing a 50th-anniversary tour and Barrere was performing during the first few weeks. He alerted fans that he would be taking a break in October, however, to deal with some ongoing medical problems. 

He passed away on Saturday in L.A. He was 71-years-old. 

How did Paul Barrere die? Read on for the details. 

1. Paul Barrere's early years

A California native, Barrere was born in 1948 in Burbank, California into a Hollywood family. Both of his parents were actors.  Barrere started working as a musician in the 1970s. He was known for his bluesy rock style and played both bass and guitar. 

2. Joining Little Feat

Barrere originally auditioned to join Little Feat as a bassist but George Lowell passed him over at the time, according to Variety. A few years later, he returned as a guitarist and found his place in the lineup starting in 1972. He played on their iconic album Dixie Chicken. In the years before Lowell died, he and Barrere co-wrote some of their most famous songs, including “Time Loves a Hero,” “All That You Dream” and “Down on the Farm.” Lowell died in 1979 and the band drifted apart after that. The remaining members, including Barrere went on to do other projects. 

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3. Little Feat back again

In 1987, Barrere was instrumental in bringing Little Feat back to the stage after two of the members reunited by happenstance. "Barrere and [Bill] Payne remember that a chance jam session in 1986 brought them together again, when they were reminded of how deeply Little Feat’s music was ingrained in them," the band website says. "In 1988, the reformed band — with new members Craig Fuller (handling George’s vocal duties) and Fred Tackett —rekindled Feat’s magic for fans old and new alike." Little Feat recorded several albums and toured regularly after that. Most recently, they embarked on a tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band.   

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4. Long term health issues

Barrere was no stranger to health problems. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1994 and had to undergo treatment for that. Almost a decade later, he had liver trouble again —this time cancer. “I went through the whole Hep C thing, got through that, and then came cancer. My doctor was very funny, actually, he said, ‘You’ve beat the little c, now you’ve got the big C,'” Barrere told JamBase earlier this year.

He was optimistic about his treatment plan and even went on the first leg of the band's 50th-anniversary tour. "My last scan showed another little spot they’re going to zap. They use high-frequency microwaves, so this is the third one they’re going to zap, and that’ll put me out of the game for about a week,” Paul explained earlier this year. “But there’s no chemo, no radiation, they do it and they tell me I’m good to go. Hey man, I get up in the morning, I read the obituaries, and if I’m not in them? I’ll make myself a coffee," he joked.

Barrere died this weekend.

5. Staying off the road

Earlier this month, he told fans that he would not be performing on the second leg of the tour due to his ongoing health issues. "As many of you know, for the past several years I have been dealing with liver disease. When we finished the second leg of our 50th Anniversary Tour, I was beginning to develop some edema, which has been making some things a little more difficult. It has been a bit of a roller coaster as I go through the treatments my medical team has prescribed, and I have had good days and not so good days," he wrote in a letter to fans. "Lately, the not so good days have been more common. I have met with my team at UCLA and they have told me that what I am experiencing is common and treatable. However, the timing is not ideal, as they have directed me to stay home in October while they fine-tune the treatment in order to get me back to where the good days are the norm."

He had been hoping that he and his doctors would be able to manage his condition enough for him to rejoin the tour. "My plan is to follow my doctor’s orders and sit tight, but I have every intention of getting back to Jamaica in January and rock’n on the beach with all of you Until then, keep your sailin’ shoes close by… If I have my way, you’re going to need them!"

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6. A sad passing

The band announced his death in a note on their website over the weekend. "It is with great sorrow that Little Feat must announce the passing of our brother guitarist, Paul Barrere, this morning at UCLA Hospital. We ask for your kindest thoughts and best wishes to go out especially to his widow Pam and children Gabriel, Genevieve, and Gillian, and to all the fans who were his extended family," they wrote. "As the song he sang so many times put it, he was always “Willin’,” but it was not meant to be. Paul, sail on to the next place in your journey with our abiding love for a life always dedicated to the muse and the music. We are grateful for the time we have shared."

Bonnie Raitt mourns Barrere.

Barrere's friends and colleagues in the music industry expressed their sadness and shared memories of him on social media. Bonnie Rait tweeted: "I just heard about the passing of another dear friend, Little Feat’s Paul Barrere. A brilliant guitarist, singer and songwriter—a cornerstone of one of the greatest bands of all time. I’m glad he is free of pain and may he rest in peace.” Nils Lofgren, who played with Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young wrote "Rest In Peace my friend. You’ve Blessed us all with a lifetime of inspired, soulful music. #Paul Barrere."

Paul Barrere was 71-years-old. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.