Update: The Baker City Herald reports that Rea died early this morning at a Nampa, Idaho, hospital — and that he was 63.
Rea, who was scheduled to perform July 19 at the Boise Blues Festival in Julia Davis Park, will be replaced by the Ben Rice Trio. Other acts on the bill include headliner Matthew Curry and openers Hoochie Coochie Men and Freudian Slip.
Rea, who lived in Baker City, Ore., played with many greats during his career — and always expressed gratitude for that. His resume reads like a “who’s who” of the blues. B.B. King? Check. Albert King? Check. The list goes on.
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“He’s been around forever,” Harris said. “He played with Al Wilson of Canned Heat and Freddie King and John Lee Hooker. He really got into the blues a long time ago, before all the rest of us white kids rediscovered our heritages and stuff.”
Hooker reportedly called Rea the “new Boogie Man.”
Rea, who suffered from diabetes, had a leg amputated years ago, but he continued to tour. The motto on his artist bio was to “play as much blues for as many people as humanly possible. Enough said.”
“He would just make it up on the stage ... and turn it up and wail,” Harris said. “Real nice guy and sweetheart. No attitude.”