The Lowrider Band

Original Composers of the Hits “Lowrider”, “Why Can’t We Be Friends”, and “Cisco Kid”!

Funk Rock

Thu, July 8

THE LOWRIDER BAND consists of Howard E. Scott, B.B. Dickerson, Lee Oskar, and Harold Brown. They have been playing together in one form or another since 1962 and are responsible for classic hits like “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Low Rider,” “Summer” and “Spill The Wine.”

    The original band, War, got its big break backing up former Animals singer Eric Burdon for three albums.

    Culture critics credit these musicians with popularizing the Low Rider culture to a mass audience.

Sound Observations From The Lowrider Band

By David Moye

For a guy who’s been associated with War since the late 1960s, drummer Harold Brown has peace on his mind these days.

“There’s a lot going on that I can’t discuss, but I think we’re going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year and we’re in talks about putting the band back together.”

The band that Brown is speaking of is War, a seminal soul band responsible for hits like “Low Rider,” “Summer,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and “Cisco Kid.”

Brown and guitarist Howard Scott have been together since 1962 when they started a group called the Creators. Others like harmonica player Lee Oskar, and bass player Lee Dickerson as part of the ensemble nearly as long.

But Brown, Scott, Oskar and Dickerson have been legally prohibited from performing as War. Since the 1990s, the band name has been owned by original manager Jerry Goldsmith who runs a band fronted by keyboardist and singer Lonnie Jordan.

So Brown and the other core members perform as the “Lowrider Band” at gigs all around the country including their July 8 gig at Anthology.

Although the two sides have been at war, Brown believes the time for peace is coming.

“We don’t hate Lonnie,” he said. “He just went in a different direction. But I feel like we are about to embark on the greatest music we’ve ever made. We have one more album in us and it’s a killer. We want to leave songs that will inspire people.”

The Lowrider Band is currently trying those songs out during its shows and Brown is especially high on one called “Issues,” because, he points out, “Everyone’s got issues.”

Regardless of what name the Lowrider Band is performing under, the musicians have been unique in the way they shared the songwriting credits, with each member receiving a royalty under the assumption they made a contribution.

However, Brown is quick to give credit to his longtime partner Scott.

“He’s a prolific writer,” Brown said. “He came up with the seeds for ‘Slippin’ Into Darkness,’ our first hit, as well as ‘Cisco Kid.’ But when they came together, it was a mystical magical process because none of us were super musicians.

“The only one who really knew about music was [sax player] Charles Miller. He knew the melody structures and harmonies because he had played in a marching band.”

Brown said Miller, who was murdered in 1980, is the man who came up with the lyrics to “Low Rider.”
“A lot of our music starts from jams,” he said. “The first time you heard ‘Low Rider’ is exactly how I heard it. We were jamming along to the Bo Diddley song ‘Say Man,” when all of a sudden I was on the upbeat. I said to myself, ‘Don’t get nervous, because the first time you do that it’s an accident and the second time it’s deliberate.

“All of a sudden those lyrics came out of his mouth” Brown said, leaving this writer to add “and the rest is history.”

Brown said “Spill The Wine,” which the band recorded with Eric Burdon, was another tune built out of a jam (“We are the original jam band,” he emphasized).

“It’s just a standard latin rhythm that Eric Burdon sang over,” he said. “The lyric was based on someone spilling wine in the studio, but Lee says we had the song before that.”

But while the Lowrider Band will be playing the hits, Brown promises there will be more than meets the ear.

“That’s what makes us different,” he emphasized. “We wrote those songs, but we never play the music the same way twice.”

Although Brown grew up in Long Beach, California, he said the band’s unique blend of latin rhythms with soul and rock influences owes a huge debt to the Tijuana musicians he used to hear in strip clubs when he was 15.

“There was no age limit,” he said gleefully. “I was maybe 15 or 16 with all of these old guys and I remember these musicians playing the bongo pattern I learned from Harry Belafonte calypso records on a cowbell and a clave. I said, ‘What is that?’ and that became the basis for a lot of our sound.”

As Brown comes close to 50 years in the music business, he is hoping that younger drummers beat a path to his door, if only to learn the true secret to musical success.

“When you see us in concert, watch how we watch each other,” Brown said. “It’s like a conversation. I tell these young drummers who pound and pound, ‘Hey, how can you hear them talk?’”

“Comprising four prolific, multi-platinum singer-songwriters,… this dynamic team of accomplished musicians is guilty of dishing up many of the greatest tunes to permeate airwaves since the dawn of radio.” –

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