Among Deadheads, Kingfish is cultishly revered as Bob Weir’s finest side project and arguably one of his best musical endeavors outside the Grateful Dead. The group was founded in 1973 (a year before Ace stepped in) by longtime Weir chum and blues harmonica player Matthew Kelly and bassist Dave Torbert (of The New Riders of the Purple Sage). The original lineup also included drummer Chris Herold, keyboardist Mick Ward, and a standout Telecaster picker named Robbie Hoddinott. Hoddinott’s long, wavy blond hair, relaxed stage presence and sizzling lead work in Kingfish earned him many fans over the years.
(Kingfish with Dave Torbert, Matthew Kelly, Bob Weir, Robbie Hoddinott seated at right, and Chris Herold)
(Robbie Hoddinott making his Tele sing)
Hoddinott’s country-, rock- and jazz-inflected picking carried the original Kingfish sound, be it twanging away on a version of Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron,” soul-noodling on the Bob Weir composition “Lazy Lightnin’/Supplication,” or artfully propelling Kingfish originals such as “Asia Minor” and “Hypnotize.” His ability to seamlessly ply his sparkling Telecaster solos into the band’s varied grooves is the stuff of legend.
R.I.P. Robbie Hoddinott. March 7, 1954 – March 6, 2017
Word of Hoddinott’s passing was posted on Facebook by his significant other Joyce Koller.
Today, March 7, would have been his 63rd Birthday.