Great things ahead: Little Feat’s Bill Payne on success, creativity, and living in Montana

By Brian D’Ambrosio for the Missoulian

Considering the extravagance and glamour of typical rock n’ roll chronicles, Bill Payne’s path to becoming a benchmark keyboardist perhaps isn’t very thrilling. That’s not to suggest that it’s an uninteresting journey, but rather a prudent and humble one, a narrative analogous to the man himself.

If you go

Little Feat and Hot Tuna Acoustic perform at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater on Thursday, Aug. 4. Tickets are $42-$60, availabl at logjampresents.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 98 p.m.

Payne’s introduction to playing piano started with his mother sitting him on her knee and teaching him to play “Vaya Con Dios,” a popular Western tune. Seated at an awkwardly and uncomfortably designed upright, he and his mother would be positioned together in the basement for many hours on end. Through her interpretation of the sheet music, he took his first leap at developing a personal musical sound.

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Not long afterward, he began taking piano lessons from a woman named Ruth Newman. He was “about 5 or 6,” as he recalls, and he had already practically worn out the keys playing the same

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