Lee Gates has an incredible presence, standing well over six feet tall, his entire body draped with muscles from a life of hard work.
Lee Gates also has Blues genes, since he’s a first cousin to Albert Collins. If Lee isn’t a true-Blue, Mississippi Delta Bluesman, then nobody can carry that moniker. He’s also a Luther Allison-style blues rocker from Pontotoc, MS. Lee hasn’t had any of the breaks that many other less-skilled blues-rockers have had in spite of his blazing guitar work and good writing skills.
How We Helped:
Music Maker Relief Foundation provides Lee Gates with monthly stipends for prescription medicines, and has given him guitars and recorded his three CDs. Music Maker has also organized Lee’s tour in Australia and performances at festivals throughout the United States. Lee’s music is often heard on XM radio’s “Bluesville” channel. He checks in with his Music Maker family at least four times a week.
Lee was born in Mississippi and moved to Milwaukee in 1959 as a teenager where he has been playing his brand of down home Blues for the past 50 years. Blues legend Albert Collins is his first cousin (although it wasn’t until ‘74 that Lee met him) and you can hear the family influence in Lee’s fluid guitar style and tone.
My daddy’s brother had a lot of kids out there in Texas. I never met them as a child, but we all knew of each other. When Albert came to Milwaukee I showed him around and we did some gigs together. Every time he came to town we would go out and eat supper together, he was a good friend to me.
In October of 2003 Lee called Music Maker and announced that he was coming to North Carolina to make a MMRF CD. Tim Duffy, MMRF president, asked Lee to travel to Alabama to record with producer/drummer Ardie Dean. Two days later, Lee caught a Greyhound to Huntsville. Missing a layover in Nashville, Lee arrived early in the morning, went straight to the studio with Ardie and proclaimed the record done just three hours later.
One must rejoice in the “happening” of Lee’s first CD, Lee Gates & the Alabama Cotton Kings, with MMRF, especially the glorious tone of his guitar. After performing for 52 years, Lee has finally started his recording career. Since his first album with Music Maker, Lee has recorded two more albums, Black Lucy’s Deuce & Touring with Lucy, released in September of 2009.