WAR – ‘Low Rider’
  • Writers: War, Jerry Goldstein, and B.B. Harold
  • Producers: Jerry Goldstein, Lonnie Jordan, and Howard Scott
  • Recorded: Early 1975 in Hollywood, California
  • Released: June 1975
  • Players:
    Lonnie Jordan — keyboards
    Howard Scott — guitar
    Lee Oskar — harmonica, vocals
    Papa Dee Allen — percussion
    Harold Brown — drums
    Charles Miller — vocals, reeds
    B.B. Dickerson — bass
  • Album: Why Can’t We Be Friends? (United Artists, 1975)
  • Also On:
    Greatest Hits (United Artists, 1976)
    The Best Of War…And More (Priority, 1987)
    Anthology 1970-1994 (Avenue/Rhino, 1994)
  • “Low Rider” was the first Number One R&B single in War‘s career. The song also hit Number Seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • The song was inspired by the cars the group saw driving around their Los Angeles home base, which were modified to ride low to the ground. Lonnie Jordan said the group’s Charles Miller “had been a low rider since way back when. He drove a ’48 Chevy that he’d dropped to the ground, with loud scavenger pipes like they had in the ’50s. He came into the studio one day and started singing ‘low…ri…der’ to this track that B.B. Harold and myself had come up with. Then Jerry (Goldstein) started writing all these lines for Charles to sing, and we took the concept further.”
  • War’s Why Can’t We Be Friends? album was a return to form for the group, which had deviated from their urban/Latin roots on their previous effort, 1974’s socially and spiritually conscious Deliver The Word. Jordan said that “With Friends, we were trying to send a message but still keep it light.”
  • To get back to the sound they wanted, War also returned to Los Angeles after having recorded Deliver The Word at Caribou Studios in Colorado. “It was beautiful up in Colorado,” Jordan said, “but it made us too lazy, so we came back home to record Friends. We brought a lot of our friend to our rehearsals in Hollywood — it was like having our own party house.”
  • The move paid off. Friends hit Number Six on the Billboard 200 and Number Nine on the R&B album chart, as well as earning a gold record.

FAST FORWARD:

  • Led by Jordan and Howard Scott, War continues to record and perform.
  • “Low Rider” has been covered by ZZ Top, Barry White, Blues Traveler, Korn, and many others.
  • It was used as the theme for the George Lopez Show. Lopez has called it “The Chicano National Anthem.”
  • In the mid-’90s, War set up an innovative lend-lease arrangement for hip-hop artists to sample their music, insuring that the group would get payment and exposure from them.