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Subject: Harold Beane, Guitarist for Isaac Hayes and Funkadelic

Dead at 73
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Date Posted: Monday, February 03, 01:05:12pm


Isaac Hayes and Funkadelic guitarist Harold Beane dies; Memphis native was 73

Bob Mehr, Memphis Commercial Appeal Published 3:13 p.m. CT Feb. 1, 2020 | Updated 5:43 p.m. CT Feb. 1, 2020

Memphis music great Harold Beane has died. The guitarist, who helped define the early records of Isaac Hayes, later went on to play with Funkadelic and worked with everyone from Little Richard to Rufus Thomas, died Saturday. He was 73.

Jeff Kollath, executive director of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, confirmed the news. Beane had been hospitalized for the past week.

A Memphis native, with roots in the Soulsville neighborhood, Beane attended Hamilton High School and got his early guitar tutelage from his neighbor, Larry Lee, later a sideman for Jimi Hendrix and Al Green.

In the mid-'60s, Beane worked in Stax’s Satellite Records shop and eventually got his break working with one of the label’s stars, William Bell. Beane toured with Bell and also co-wrote his 1968 track "Get It While It’s Hot." Beane maintained a close collaboration with Bell over the years, and also contributed to recordings by other Stax artists, including Thomas and David Porter.

In 1969, Beane achieved guitar immortality, laying down the iconic fuzz-drenched solo on Hayes’ revolutionary R&B rendition of “Walk on By.” As Beane explained to the New York Times in 2017, he’d dropped by the studio where Hayes asked him to improvise on the track.

“He told me, ‘I want to take it out of the box,’ so I turned on the fuzz tone and turned up the tremolo,” recalled Beane. “Then I took my guitar, and I slid it up and down the microphone stand.”

After playing in Hayes’ touring band for a time, Beane was recruited into the George Clinton-led outfit Funkadelic. Beane played on the group’s 1972 album, “America Eats Its Young,” co-writing the song “Loose Booty.” He continued his association with the Funkadelic collective for several years while living in Detroit.

Beane eventually resettled in Atlanta, ultimately left music and began a long career working for IBM. Over the years, Beane's classic work was used as samples in notable hip-hop tracks by the likes of EPMD and Big Daddy Kane.

In 2011, he returned to Memphis and started playing music again, often on Beale Street with blues band Elmo and The Shades.

This past September, Beane made his last major public appearance at the Stax Museum as part of an event celebrating the "Masters of the Soul Guitar." Beane, who had been hospitalized just days earlier, performed from a wheelchair, delivering his solo on Hayes' "Walk On By” and playing an epic rendition of Parliament’s “Maggot Brain” to a packed house.

On Saturday afternoon, the Stax Museum changed its marquee to honor Beane. Memorial plans are pending.

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