Written by Clarence "Sonny" Henry * Produced by Robert S. Mersey * 45: "Evil Ways" / "El Jefe (The Chief)" * LP: Changes * Label: Cyclone * Billboard charts: —
Santana's 1969 hit single "Evil Ways" (Billboard #9) covered a 1967 Willie Bobo track that Bobo's guitarist Clarence "Sonny" Henry had composed. Buddy Fite's interpretation of the tune on his Changes album took its cues from the original, complete with Wes Montgomery-esque octaves.
Fite was a guitarist's guitarist, even if the reserved, light jazz nature of this track doesn't always show it. He released only five albums between 1969 and 1987, and he attracted the most attention in his career with his first three. These came out on Cyclone/Bell, with Changes (1970) getting notice in Billboard for its "intriguing material" suitable for "easy listening playlists." (Los Angeles's KMPC, for one, had taken the bait.) Another Billboard mention refers to a track of Fite's called "Glad Rag Doll" being marketed as an early 12-inch single.
"Fingerstyle jazz" is perhaps an apt description for the Oregon-based Fite's guitar style, and he counted Willie Nelson, Les Paul, and Chet Atkins among his friends and admirers. His legendry otherwise locates him as a former Hell's Angel in the sixties and/or a timber worker who, after abandoning the music business in the seventies, would occasionally crash West coast clubs, turn the audience on its ear, and then disappear. Fite did publish one guitar instruction book for Mel Bay in 1997, a few years before his death in 2001.
Also see: A KMPC Playlist circa 1971