FUZZY RANKINS

BRIEF

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Lenny “Fuzzy” Rankins comes from a rich background of performing gospel music. It was when he relocated to the west coast in the 90’s and he was introduced to Fro Brigham that Fuzzy discovered the diversity of the blues.

He has been selected to play with many masters including BB King, Etta James and Bobby “Blue” Bland. The winner of this year’s IBC challenge he will represent San Diego in Memphis in January, 2014. In addition to this he has received a number of local awards and a Grammy in 2007 for his guitar work on Ike Turner’s CD “Risin’ With The Blues”.

Fuzzy, a skilled storyteller, writer, composer and producer, plays bass, drums and keys. He is a wonderful blues and jazz performer. He is best known for the masterful control of his fretwork on the guitar which combined with his soulful yet powerful vocals and witty entertainment style is sure to capture your attention and stir the emotions.

FUZZY RANKINS' STORY

GOSPEL BEGINNINGS

Lenny “Fuzzy” Rankins was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His family gave him the name “Fuzzy” and it has stayed with him! Most of his childhood was spent in Wilmington, Delaware where he was immersed in the traditions of gospel music. His musical and vocal talent was quickly recognized and ultimately led to him playing at the church and touring with gospel groups. When he moved to York, Pennsylvania, the age of 16, he performed in shows with Shirley Caesar, Al Green, Five Blind Boys, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Gospel Keynotes, James Cleveland, and many others.

At the age of 19, Fuzzy formed his own gospel group called God’s Angels, who recorded, travelled and performed on the East Coast. He eventually expanded his music and organized an R&B group called the 14 Karat Band that toured and performed with major R&B artists, such as Tone Tone, Roy Clark, Basic Black, Patty Labelle, and Gerald Levert. 

 

A BLUESMAN IS BORN

1990 - Fuzzy arrived in California and met and began playing with blues and jazz performer Fro Brigham (formerly associated with Louis Armstrong). Inspired by this man his love for and recognition of the diversity of the blues was sparked.

1992 -  Fuzzy formed his own blues band, Fuzzy and the Bluesmen, who became very popular in the Southern California area.

1993 - Jim Croce Blues Award.

1993 - Best Blues Music Award.

Television appearances, including the Jerry Lewis Telethon show.

1996 - Orange County/Newport Beach Blues and other blues festivals.

1996 - Fuzzy was the featured artist at a special dedication to T-Bone Walker by renowned international artist John DeMarco.

1999 - Fuzzy was called and selected as one of the stand-in guitarists for three of the male leads in the award-winning musical production “It Ain’t Nothin.’ But The Blues”. The play, written and produced by actor/vocalist Ron Taylor, debuted at the Lyceum Theater where it was held over for an additional two weeks due to its popularity. The play was aired on television throughout Southern California, and the cast ultimately played to audiences on Broadway, across the U.S. and in Europe. 

2001 - Album Stirring Up The Mix was nominated in the Best Jazz Album category at the Music Awards in San Diego.

2013 – Winner of local International Blues Challenge and will compete Jan 2014 in Memphis.

 

MUSICAL INFLUENCES:

BLUES

Fro Brigham was his inspirational influence and he was further inspired when performing with or opening for blues legends B.B. King, Etta James, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and also other artists Luther Ingraham, Bobby Womack and Zapp & Roger.

JAZZ

Fuzzy has studied and listened to all styles of music, but the style and music of jazz artists George Benson, Earl Klugh, Lee Rittenauer and Al DiMeola especially influenced him

CD RECORDINGS

1993: Not Gonna Work This Time – first blues CD.

1996: Good Lovin’- second blues CD

Both CD’s contain original compositions and received airplay on San Diego radio stations (KIFM - Smooth Jazz 98.1, KSDS [88.3], KUPR, and JAMMIN’ Z90” [90.3]

2001: Stirring Up The Mix – first Jazz CD featuring 10 original compositions written and produced by him.

The music received airplay on Smooth Jazz 98.1 (KIFM radio), Jazz 88.3, KJJZ, and others.

2010: Take A Brotha Home – latest blues CD

FAMILY MAN

It may not surprise you to learn that Fuzzy is a father of some very talented sons and daughters. He has been dedicating much time helping to raise these young people. He spends many hours teaching them his craft, recording them in his home studio and producing videos and involving them in church and community based services.

PRODUCTION COMPANY

In 2002, Fuzzy expanded his production company and formed MoonCook Productions with Cheryl Peters, under which 10 artists (R&B, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap, and gospel) were under contract and worked on their individual solo projects. A compilation CD featuring all 10 artists was showcased and released in December 2003. In addition to composing and producing their albums, Fuzzy produced music videos for each of the artists that were aired nationwide on the Rhythms music video show. He is now preparing to film one of three movie scripts he has written. He plans on submitting the film to various film festivals. 

Fuzzy has played backup guitar and helped many artists throughout his career, such as Ike Turner, Jeanette Harris, Mindy Abair, Wayne Holmes (George Duke’s engineer), saxophonist George Howard, pop artist Jewel, and gospel artist Tonex. Fuzzy continues to do session work with various artists in the studio. Fuzzy also did session work with producer David Kershenbaum for the Color Me Bad album featuring artists Peabo Bryson, Al Greene, Montel Jordan, and others. 

In addition to his expertise as a musician, artists avail themselves of Fuzzy’s talent as a producer. He has played guitar, done voiceover work, provided sound effects and composed and produced music on video games, such as Ready to Rumble, Spy Hunter, Fireblade, Freaky Flyers, Hydro Thunder, Gravity Games, and many others. 


ENDORSEMENTS

Fuzzy has been an endorsed artist of Connolly and Co., a leading U.S. distributor and partner of Thomastik-Infeld, since April 2002. Connolly and Co. exclusively imports and distributes Thomastik-Infeld’s highly acclaimed line of strings and accessories for bowed and fretted instruments (www.connollyandco.com).

 

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UPCOMING GIGS

  • Dec 20
    Tio Leo's,  San Diego
     
  • Dec 31
    Prohibition San Diego,  San Diego
     
  • Jan 13
    Tio Leo's,  San Diego
     
  • Jan 16
    2018 International Blues Challenge, January 16th-21st,  Memphis
     
  • Jan 25
    1st Street Bar,  Encinitas