December 8, 1986 – Hollywood Fats was born Michael Leonard Mann in Los Angeles on March 17, 1954. He started playing guitar at the age of 10. While in his teens, his mother would drive him to various clubs in South Central Los Angeles to jam with well-known blues musicians when they came to town. Hollywood Fats’ father was a doctor and his siblings went on to become doctors and lawyers. He gigged with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells who gave him the nickname.
Hollywood Fats toured with James Harman, Jimmy Witherspoon, J. B. Hutto, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Albert King.
During the 1970s and 1980s he worked with the blues harmonica player and singer James Harman. He played on a number of his records including Extra Napkin’s, Mo’ Na’Kins, Please, Those Dangerous Gentlemans and Live in ’85. Other guitarists with whom he played included Junior Watson, Kid Ramos and Dave Alvin.
Hollywood Fats was invited to be a sideman to Muddy Waters and later met the harmonica player Al Blake. Blake had just moved to Los Angeles from Oklahoma. In 1974, Hollywood Fats and Blake formed a band consisting of pianist Fred Kaplan, Richard Innes on drums and Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor called the Hollywood Fats Band.
For a King Biscuit Flower Hour concert on September 7, 1979, which was later to be released on record, Hollywood Fats played the lead guitar in Canned Heat.
The Hollywood Fats Band released a self-titled album in 1979, the only album under their name. The band broke up not long after and Hollywood Fats continued to play with Harman’s band, and The Blasters in 1986 replacing Dave Alvin. Hollywood Fats also played with a non-blues band called Dino’s Revenge from 1985 through 1986. He recorded three songs with Dino’s Revenge as well as playing several live performances. The band consisted of Marshall Rohner of T.S.O.L. as well as Kevan Hill, Butch Azevedo and Steven Ameche all of The Twisters.
The Fats Band always rehearsed at Alley Studios in North Hollywood where this informal, yet very important and now rare recording was made. Fats tragically died at the young age of 32, one week after this rehearsal date, thus cutting short an already brilliant career that had he lived, was destined for true legend.Upon his death Guitar Player Magazine wrote in a tribute to him that he was the greatest blues guitar player to come along in the last 25 years.
The show the band was rehearsing for was the annual Southern California Blues Society’s Christmas party held at the Music Machine on Pico Blvd in west Los Angeles.
The night of the show was a joyous occasion and there were many big time music celebrities in the audience. Among them was Lee Allen, the legendary New Orleans saxophone player, heard playing on so many great rock and roll classics by Little Richard, Fats Domino, Kris Kenner.,etc. Lee played with The Fats Band that night. The band was on fire sounding better than ever with great hopes for the future-but it was not to be. Dreams and aspirations were soon shattered after a night of celebration. Hollywood Fats departed this world in the early morning hours of the following day on December 8, 1986 as the result of a heroin overdose at the age of 32.