Born on November 4, 1948, Howard "Buzz" Feiten is a North American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and session musician. He is best known as a lead and rhythm guitarist, and for having patented a unique, scientifically designed tuning system for guitars and similar instruments; a design formula which utilizes alterations to the instrument's nut and saddle to correct the inherent intonation problems of the Western tuning formula.
Feiten grew up in Centerport, New York, where he was known by schoolmates and friends as 'Buzzy'. Son of a musical mother, Pauline (a classical pianist), and an airline pilot, Howard Sr., Feiten received training in classical music as a child. Feiten's older sister Paula was a top fashion-world 'cover girl' model in the mid-1960s. A younger brother, Jon, was also involved in music and the arts.
In youth, he studied several musical instruments, finally settling on the French Horn. As a teenager, he played in all-county (Suffolk) and all-state (New York) youth orchestras on the instrument.
Feiten first played Carnegie Hall in 1966, on French Horn, in a select All-American orchestra, American Youth Performs. He would later return with other major acts, such as Rickie Lee Jones. In 1966, he auditioned at the Juilliard School on the French Horn but was not admitted. Feiten was credited on the French Horn on one of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's 1960s albums.
He debuted in commercial pop / rock music with a high school band called The Reasons Why (other players were Steve Beckmeier (rhythm guitar), Al Stegmeyer (drums), Danny 'Fingers' Horton (lead guitar), and Daniel Kretzer (keyboards)). The Reasons Why were locally successful on Long Island, and two of their songs, "Tell Her One More Time" and "Same Old Worries" were mentioned in a Billboard 'new singles' article in the summer of 1966.
The Butterfield Blues Band
Still known as 'Buzzy', he jammed in New York City with Eric Clapton the next year, during Slowhand's 1967 first visit to the USA with supergroup Cream. This experience helped qualify Feiten, now increasingly seen as a 'wunderkind', to join the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, filling the post of the departed Elvin Bishop, who had gone solo. Feiten recorded on the group's fifth album, Keep on Moving.
With Butterfield, Feiten toured internationally, and played such famous gigs as the Atlantic City Pop Festival and the legendary Woodstock Festival, polishing his 'chops' on rhythm 'n' blues. As he matured into the adult music scene, his nickname became modified to 'Buzz'.
Other projects, and Full Moon
Feiten's next major combo engagement was as lead guitarist with The Rascals, Felix Cavaliere's group (formerly known as the Young Rascals) on their Peaceful World and Island of Real albums, including a few original Feiten songs.
But as a young-adult player, Feiten achieved musicians' musician status in 1971 with the independent project album Full Moon, featuring Neil Larsen (keyboards), Freddie Beckmeier (bass), Phillip Wilson (drums), and Brother Gene Dinwiddie on tenor saxophone. Sidemen contributing to Full Moon included Randy Brecker, Airto Moreira, Ray Barretto, Dave Holland, and vocalists Robin Clark and Tasha Thomas. A notable early example of Jazz Fusion, Full Moon gained airplay and vinyl album sales in some metropolitan and urban-suburban markets. It was re-released in 2000 on CD with a bonus track not included on the original. A sequel album, Buzz Feiten & The New Full Moon, was released in 1999, with a modified different complement of musicians: the original member Freddie Beckmeier, bass (brother of Steve from The Reasons Why), plus new members Jai Winding on keyboards, Brandon Fields on saxophones, and Gary Mallaber on drums. Two other Feiten projects had the 'Full Moon' name attached; one a Larsen-Feiten band studio-recorded release, and the other a 'live' album, Full Moon Live—early 1980s recordings of some of the original Full Moon and Larsen-Feiten Band songs, with Neil Larsen on keyboards, Lenny Castro on percussion, Art Rodriguez on drums, and Vernon Porter on bass.
Feiten has played with many well-known acts, and his discography includes well over 100 collections with various artists, playing music ranging from straight blues, cabaret standards, pop, rock 'n' roll, rhythm 'n' blues, jazz, and fusion. His own musical projects have included The Reasons Why (with whom he first played electric bass), Full Moon, the Larsen-Feiten Band, and the Whirlies. In 1998-99 he was a member of the Dave Weckl Band, and recorded songs (including some of his originals) on two of Weckl's CDs, Synergy and Rhythm of the Soul. Synergy is considered some of his best jazz / fusion work.
Feiten's recordings and/or performances include the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Rascals, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Brecker Brothers, Bruce Willis, Gregg Allman, James Taylor, Wilson Pickett, Chaka Khan, Olivia Newton-John, Neil Larsen, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler, David Sanborn, Dave Weckl, Kenny Loggins, Art Porter Jr., Michael Franks, Dave Koz, Felix Cavaliere, Jeff Lorber, Commander Cody, Stuart Hamm, Jason Miles, Claus Ogerman, Boz Scaggs, Mr. Mister, Richard Pelkoff, Bill Quateman, and many other great jazz, pop, rock and blues musicians. His much-imitated style and techniques on the electric guitar can be heard throughout late 20th century and early 21st century pop, rock, jazz, and fusion music.
Feiten's songwriting (and sometimes singing) credits include tracks with the Reasons Why, the Rascals, Chicago (#18), Full Moon, Larsen-Feiten Band, Casino Lights, Whirlies, the Dave Weckl Band, and Guitar Workshop in L.A. (1988). On the latter rare CD, Feiten 'faced-off' in a 'battle of the guitarists' with three other great rock and pop fretmen, Teddy Castellucci, James Harrah, and Jeff Baxter, who may be best known for his work with Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers.
Some of Feiten's CDs, compilations, and re-releases have only been marketed in Germany and Japan, with minimal commercial publicity in the USA.
More recent work
Steve Postell, formerly with Little Blue and Pure Prairie League, reported in 2008 that Feiten was featured on three tracks from his new CD, released that year. Postell said that Feiten "... plays beautifully, and wrote two of the songs." And on December 2, 2010, he posted on his web site that "My song '3:35 Coming Through' just won Best Americana/Roots song at the HOLLYWOOD MUSIC IN MEDIA AWARDS ... A big part of what makes this song sound so good is the insanely great band on the track: drums, Steve Ferrone / bass, Leland Sklar / keys, Benmont Tench, Peter Adams / percussion, Debra Dobkin / guitars, Robben Ford, Buzzy Feiten / backing vocals, Gia Ciambotti / Dobro & vocals, me ..."
There was a late 2008 release of the Japanese-published 'Buzz Feiten with special guest Brandon Fields' on CD, recorded at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles on January 11, 2007. The band includes Jerry Watts, bass, Dave Beyer, drums, and John Thomas, keyboards—disc credits are in English and Japanese. Notable among the six included tracks is a tribute to the late Brotha Gene Dinwiddie, saxophonist in the original 'Full Moon' project album. A video of the tune's live performance, 'Hey Dinwiddie', can be found on YouTube as of this writing.
In 2010, BGO Records, in cooperation with Felix Cavaliere, re-released the 1971 and 1972 Rascals albums Peaceful World and Island of Real as a re-mastered double CD. Feiten joined the Rascals (formerly known as the 'Young Rascals') in the late 1960s upon leaving the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with whom he played at Woodstock. The double CD includes 3 original Feiten songs, 'Jungle Walk', 'In and Out of Love', and 'Icy Water'. He is also credited as co-writer on the title song 'Island of Real'. Feiten is featured on rhythm and lead guitar in all 23 tracks.
'Buzz Feiten tuning system'
In 1992, Feiten patented a new tuning system for guitars, now marketed as the 'Buzz Feiten tuning system'. The architecture of his system makes it possible to tune guitars and basses more accurately, resulting in more accurate tonality of notes played on the lowest 3 or 4 frets, which otherwise frequently play out-of-tune compared to notes played on the rest of the neck. The difference, though subtle, is especially evident in the playing of open chords.
The system requires some minor alterations to the instrument, and can be retrofitted to most guitars that do not already have it. At this writing, the retrofit normally retails for around $139. The Buzz Feiten Tuning System is factory-installed on several well-known brands of guitars and electric basses. There are also several dozen qualified luthiers who are able to incorporate Feiten's patented temper-tuning mathematical formula into their instruments.
The Feiten tuning system can make use of a special guitar tuner featuring "Buzz Feiten presets" — the strings have to be tuned slightly flat or sharp because of the nut's compensations. Feiten's web site contains instructions on how his system can be tuned without such a tuner. The original intonations of the altered guitars must be done by a Feiten-licensed technician.
Buzz Feiten with special guest Brandon Fields (2008), Guitar, Vocals, Songwriter
Buzz Feiten 'Whirlies' (2000), Guitars, Bass, Synth Bass, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Percussion, Background Vocals, Songwriter (on all tracks but one)
Buzz Feiten & The Whirlies, 'Live at the Baked Potato, Hollywood, 6-4-99' (2002), Guitar, Vocals, Producer
Buzz Feiten, 'Buzz Feiten & the new Full Moon' (2002), Guitars, Vocals, Percussion, Songwriter, Mixer, Producer
Full Moon, 'Full Moon' (1972, re-released in 2000), Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Vocals (bckgr), Songwriter, Co-Producer (on 2000 Re-Release)
Full Moon, 'Full Moon Live' (2002), Guitar, Vocal, Engineer, Producer, Songwriter
Larsen/Feiten Band, 'Larsen-Feiten Band' (1980), guitar, vocals, songwriter, horn co-arranger, co-songwriter
Larsen/Feiten Band, 'Full Moon featuring Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten' (1982), guitar, vocals, horn co-arranger. (Musicians: Buzz Feiten - guitar, vocals, backgr. vocals; Neil Larsen - keyboards; David Sanborn - alto sax; Bill Reichenbach - trombone; Chuck Findley - trumpet, trombone; Jim Horn - sax; Willie Weeks - bass; Art Rodriguez - drums; Lenny Castro - percussion, backgr. vocals; Vernon Porter - backgr. vocals; Larry McNally - backgr. vocals; Jim Haslip - bass on "Twilight Moon" and "Standing in Line").
As Band or Group Member
DVD: 'Paul Butterfield Band' (Concert September 15, 1978, at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany), Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals. Includes an interview with the group, in which Buzz is credited by all with pulling the sidemen together for the concert. 'Rockpalast, the DVD Collection - Blues Rock Legends Vol 2', published by WestDeutsch Rundfunk, a division of SPV GmbH.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 'Keep on Moving' (1969), Guitar, Organ, French Horn, Background Vocals
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 'An Anthology—The Elektra Years' (1997), Guitar, French Horn
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 'Rockpalast: Blues Rock Legends, Vol. 2' (2010) (recording of Essen, Germany live concert September 15, 1978), Guitar
Dave Weckl Band, 'Rhythm of the Soul' (1998), Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
Dave Weckl Band, 'Synergy' (1999), Lead & Rhythm Electric Guitar, Nylon String Guitar, Songwriter on 'A Simple Prayer' & 'Panda's Dream', Co-Songwriter on 'High Life', 'Cape Fear', 'Wet Skin', and 'Where's My Paradise?'
Dave Weckl, 'The Zone' (2001), Lead & Rhythm Guitar—includes DVD video
As 'Special Event' Group Member
Various Artists, 'Casino Lights' [Recorded Live at Montreaux, Switzerland] (1982), Guitar, Co-Songwriter (with Neil Larsen) on 'Casino Lights' and 'E Minor Song'.
Various Artists, 'Guitar Workshop in L.A.' (1988), Guitar, Co-Songwriter on 'Skunk Blues'.
Free Creek, 'Music From Free Creek' (1973), also released as 'Summit Meeting' (1976), Guitar
As Regular Featured Guitarist or 'Backup' Group Member
Felix Cavaliere, 'Destiny' (1975), Guitar, Electric Sitar, Horn Arranger on 'Love Came'
Felix Cavaliere, 'Castles in the Air' (1979), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Spirit in the Dark' (1970), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Sweet Passion' (1977), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Love All the Hurt Away' (1981), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Legendary Queen of Soul' (1983), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Get It Right' (1983), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Never Grow Old' (1984), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'Soul Survivor' (1986), Guitar
Aretha Franklin, 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism' (1987), Guitar
Rickie Lee Jones, 'Rickie Lee Jones' (1979), Guitar
Rickie Lee Jones, 'Pirates' (1981), Guitar
Rickie Lee Jones, 'Magazine' (1984), Guitar
Rickie Lee Jones. 'Flying Cowboys' (1989), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Classical)
Rickie Lee Jones, 'Satellites' (CD single), 1989, Guitar (Classical)
Rickie Lee Jones, 'Duchess Of Coolsville: An Anthology' (2005), Guitar
Dave Koz, 'Dave Koz' (1990), Guitar
Dave Koz, 'Lucky Man' (1993), Guitar
Neil Larsen, 'Jungle Fever' (1978), Guitar
Neil Larsen, 'High Gear' (1979), Guitar
Neil Larsen, 'Smooth Talk' (1989), Guitar
Neil Larsen, 'Through Any Window' (1990), Guitar
Bette Midler, 'No Frills' (1983), Guitar
Bette Midler, 'Experience the Divine' (Greatest Hits) (1995), Guitar
Bette Midler, 'Bette of Roses' (1995), Guitar, Arranger, Guitar (Rhythm), Tambourine, Associate Producer
Bette Midler, 'Experience the Divine' (1997), Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Associate Producer
Jeff Lorber, 'Private Passion' (1990), Guitar
Jeff Lorber, 'Worth Waiting For' (1991), Guitar
Jeff Lorber, 'Midnight' (1998), Guitar on 'Dear Prudence'
Randy Newman, 'Born Again' (1979), Guitar
Randy Newman, 'Land of Dreams' (1989), Guitar
Randy Newman, 'Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman' (1998), Guitar
Art Porter, 'Pocket City' (1992), Guitar on 'Texas Hump' and 'Little People'
Art Porter, 'Straight to the Point' (1993), Guitar
Art Porter, 'Undercover' (1994), Guitar (Rhythm)
Steve Postell, 'Time Still Knockin (2011), Guitar
The Rascals (formerly the Young Rascals), 'Peaceful World' (1971), Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Songwriter on 'Icy Water' and 'Love Letter'
The Rascals (formerly the Young Rascals), 'Island of Real' (1972), Guitar, Arp, Vocal and Songwriter on 'Jungle Walk', Songwriter (credited as "H. Feiten") on 'Island of Real'
The Rascals (formerly the Young Rascals), 'Anthology' (1965–1972) (1992), Guitar
David Sanborn, 'Taking Off' (1975), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
David Sanborn, 'Best of David Sanborn' (1975), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
David Sanborn, 'Voyeur' (1980), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
David Sanborn, 'As We Speak' (1981), Guitar (Electric)
David Sanborn, 'Backstreet' (1982), Guitar (Electric) on 'Backstreet'
David Sanborn, 'The Best of David Sanborn' (1994), Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
David Sanborn, 'Original Album Series' (2010) (5-album box set—Taking Off (1975), Sanborn (1976), Heart To Heart (1978), Hideaway (1979), Voyeur (1980)), Guitar
Tom Scott, 'Street Beat' (1979), Guitar
Tom Scott, 'Desire' (1982), Guitar (Electric)
Stevie Wonder, 'Music of My Mind' (1972), Guitar
Stevie Wonder, 'Talking Book' (1972), Guitar
Stevie Wonder, 'Songs in the Key of Life' (1976), Guitar
As Studio, Featured, Guest, or 'Sideman' Musician
Gregg Allman, 'Laid Back' (1973), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
George Benson, 'George Benson Collection' (1976), Guitar
Michel Berger, 'Dreams in Stone', Guitar
Stephen Bishop, 'Red Cab to Manhattan' (1980), Guitar
Doug Cameron, 'Journey to You' (1991), Guitar
Luis Cardenas, 'Animal Instinct', Guitar
Chicago, 'Chicago 18' (1986), Guitar
Phil Christian,'No Prisoner', Bass, Guitar
Gene Clark, 'No Other' (1974), Guitar
Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen, 'Flying Dreams' (1978), Guitar
Randy Crawford, 'Windsong' (1982), Guitar
Randy Crawford, 'Best of Randy Crawford' (1996), Guitar
Dino, '24/7' (1989), Guitar
Bob Dylan, 'New Morning' (1970), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Bob Dylan, 'Nashville Skyline/New Morning' (1997), Guitar (Electric)
Kiki Ebsen, 'Red', Guitar
Michael Franks, 'Blue Pacific' (1990), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar
Rosie Gaines, 'Closer Than Close' (1995), Guitar
Jon Goodwin, 'How I Wasted My Life' (2000), Guitar (Electric)
Stefan Grossman, 'Perspective' (1979), Guitar, Guitar (Electric)
Hall & Oates (Daryl Hall and John Oates), 'Change of Season' (1990), Guitar
Lani Hall, 'Double or Nothing' (1979), Guitar, Background Vocals, Songwriter on 'To Know' and 'Magic Garden'
Stuart Hamm, 'Kings of Sleep' (1989), Guitar
Stuart Hamm, 'Urge' (1991), Guitar, Vocals
Fareed Haque, 'Sacred Addiction' (1993), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Electric)
Janis Ian, 'Restless Eyes' (1981), Electric Guitar
John Keane, 'Straight Away' (1999), Guitar
Bobby King & Terry Evans, 'Rhythm, Blues Soul & Grooves' (1990), Guitar
Brian Krinek, 'Flying High' (1995), Guitar
Labelle, 'Pressure Cookin' (1973), Guitar
Patti Labelle, 'Something Silver' (1997), Guitar
Kenny Loggins, 'Vox Humana' (1985), Guitar
Kenny Loggins, 'Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins', (1997), Guitar
Love, 'Reel to Real' (1974), Guitar
Sara Lovell, 'Calling' (1998), Guitar
Melissa Manchester, 'Emergency' (1983), Guitar
The McCrarys, 'On the Other Side', Guitar
Murray McLauchlan, 'Murray Mclauchlan', Guitar
Don McLean, 'Don McLean' (1972), Guitar
Don McLean, 'Playin' Favourites' (1974), Guitar
Larry John McNally, 'Fade to Black', Guitar
Larry John McNally, 'Larry John McNally', Guitar (Electric)
Gary Meek, 'Gary Meek' (1991), Guitar
Jason Miles, 'Mr. X' (1996), Guitar
Alec Milstein, 'Dancing in the Rain' (2000), Guitar
Adam Mitchell, 'Redhead in Trouble' (1979), Guitar (Electric)
Patsy Moore, 'Regarding the Human Condition' (1992), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
Mr. Mister, 'Pull' (1990), Guitar
Mr. Mister, 'The Best of Mr. Mister' (2001), Guitar
Alannah Myles, 'Rockinghorse' (1992), Guitar
Novac, 'Fifth Word' (1970 ), Guitar, credited as "Buzzy Feitan"
Claus Ogerman (with Michael Brecker), 'Cityscape' (1982), Guitar
Stu Nunnery, 'Stu Nunnery' (1973), Bass, Guitar
Michael Paulo, 'Fusebox' (1990), Guitar
Bill Quateman, 'Just Like You' (1979), Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Rhythm), Vocals (bckgr)
Brenda Russell, 'Love Life' (1981), Guitar
Evie Sands, 'Suspended Animation' (1979), Guitar (Electric)
Boz Scaggs, 'Other Roads' (1988), Guitar
Ben Sidran, 'Cat and the Hat' (1977), 'Guitar'
Edwin Starr, 'Stronger Than You Think I Am' (1980), Guitar
Curtis Stigers, 'Curtis Stigers' (1991), Guitar
Syreeta, 'Syreeta' (1972), Guitar
Livingston Taylor, 'Over the Rainbow' (1973), Guitar
Livingston Taylor, 'Carolina Day: The Collection' (1998), Guitar
Tanya Tucker, 'Should I Do It' (1981), Guitar
Dwight Twilley, 'Jungle' (1984), Guitar
Jennifer Warnes, 'Shot through the Heart' (1979), Guitar
David Waters, 'Island Refugee' (1995), Guitar
Tim Weisberg, 'Best of Tim Weisberg: Smile!' (1979), Guitar
Tim Weisberg, 'Party of One' (1980), Guitar
Gary Wright, 'Heading Home' (1979), Guitar
Jesse Colin Young, 'Perfect Stranger' (1982), Guitar
In Anthologies or Samplers
Various Artists, 'JVC World Class Sampler, Vol. 2' (1989), Guitar
Various Artists, 'Rock of the 70's, Vol. 4' (1992), Guitar
Various Artists, 'Best of Smooth Jazz, Vol. 3' (1998), Guitar
Various Artists, 'Midnight Groove: Art of Smooth Jazz' (1998), Guitar
In Film, Television, or Video Soundtracks
Michael Kamen, 'Hudson Hawk' (film), original score
Film 'Footloose' [Original Soundtrack] (1984), Guitar
Original TV Soundtrack, 'Melrose Place Jazz: Upstairs at MP' (1998), Guitar