Fred Kaplan


In the early years, Fred was drawn to the ivories at age three, lessons by five and performed his first recital when he was seven. While working for his father's furniture store, one of his father's customers sold him discarded 45 rpm records at a nickel a piece from his juke box servicing business back in the mid 1960’s. Records from the likes of T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, BB King and Little Richard opened new frontiers and wetted Kaplan's appetite to learn more.

Kaplan’s early blues piano influences were players such as Otis Spann, Floyd Dixon, Charles Brown, Big Maceo Merriweather, Bob Call, Blind John Davis, Sunnyland Slim, Walter Roland, Pete Johnson, Professor Longhair, Leroy Carr, Amos Milburn, Ray Charles, Roosevelt Sykes and many others too numerous to mention.

In later years, his jazz piano influences were ivory aces such as Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Sonny Clark, Oscar Peterson, Teddy Wilson, Hampton Hawes, Earl Hines, George Shearing, Ahmad Jamal, Willie The Lion Smith, McCoy Tyner, Barry Harris, Horace Silver, Thelonius Monk, Errol Garner, Paul Smith, Johnny Guanieri, Tete Montoliu, Bobby Timmons, just to name a few.

Then there were his deep gospel piano influences, such as Arizona Dranes, Thomas Dorsey, Evelyn Starks Hardy, Mildred Falls, Evelyn Gay and several others.

Some of Fred’s favorite Hammond Organ players that greatly impacted his playing were pioneers such as Jack McDuff, Shirley Scott, Jimmy Smith, Baby Face Willette, Larry Goldings, Charles Earland, Richard Groove Holmes, Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett, Jimmy McGriff and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

To meet blues greats, Kaplan swept floors at the Golden Bear and during his time off, hung around the Ash Grove, meeting Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and the like. But Kaplan's most profound experience came from befriending Lloyd Glenn at the local musician’s union hall in Los Angeles. Their close friendship lasted many years, affecting Fred’s playing style forever.

Through Al Blake, Kaplan met Hollywood Fats in the early 1970’s, playing first as the Headhunters trio, which then evolved into the original Hollywood Fats Band. They recorded one self-titled album in 1979, later re-titled “Rock This House” when reissued on the Blacktop label. This same historic recording has been re-issued world-wide several times over the last thirty years.

During his tenure with the (now legendary) Hollywood Fats Band, Kaplan was fortunate enough to have played with some of the greatest living blues artists of our time, legends such as Pee Wee Crayton, Big Joe Turner, Albert Collins, George Harmonica Smith, Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulsom, Margie Evans, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, Joe Willie Wilkins, Freddie King, Johnny Shines, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Big Mama Thornton, Finis Tasby, Louis Meyers, Freddie Robinson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roy Brown, Snooky Pryor, Little Sammy Davis, Johnny Dyer, Phillip Walker, Lee Allen, T-Bone Walker, Junior Wells, Bobby Jones, Shakey Jake Harris, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, William Clarke, Lynnwood Slim, Rod Piazza, Gatemouth Brown, James Harman, Charlie Musselwhite, Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, Kim Wilson, The Mannish Boys, Rick Holmstrom, Otis Rush and many other legendary blues greats.


Fred is currently continuing to record and tour worldwide, both as a solo pianist and as a supportive side man and producer for many of the world's top Blues artists today.