Theodore Joseph “Ted” Horowitz was born in the Bronx in 1960. At 13, he began playing the drums, but, influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Cream, he soon switched to the guitar. The young man played the blues and came to the public’s attention after winning a national blues talent search sponsored by a Long Beach, California radio station. He won new artist of the year and somewhere along the way, Ted Horowitz became Popa Chubby.
For more than 30 years, Popa Chubby has been hard rocking the blues in his fierce, soulful way. An imposing figure with a shaven head, tattooed arms, and a goatee, he describes his performance style as “The Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motorhead meets Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson.” He is an endearing character and one of the genre’s most popular figures and his career has always been about moving and carving a place for himself in the imposing terrain of the music business. He has overcome the odds and obstacles to continue growing and maturing as a creative force.
While Popa Chubby’s first gigs were in the New York City punk scene, the blues were the foundation of his playing style. “Since I’d grown up on Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin, when I started playing blues in New York clubs, I understood that the blues could be dangerous, too. It wasn’t just from playing punk bands. Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters were dangerous men. They’d cut or shoot you if they thought it was necessary and Little Walter packed a gun and wouldn’t hesitate to use it. That danger is a real part of the blues and I keep it alive in my music.”
In March 2020, Popa Chubby released his 30th anniversary album, Mighty Hard Road. Featuring 13 original tracks and covers of Freddie King and Prince, the artist sees it as the result of 30 years of learning his craft. “Thirty years is a lifetime or a blink of the eye, depends on how you look at it,” he said. “For me, every day, every show, every flight, every story, every hug has been sheer joy. I truly believe this has all manifested for a reason. I shine as an example of the human spirit. What does not kill us surely makes us stronger and the art and music we make bares the power of an uphill climb. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter what you believe, we are all the same and it’s a Mighty Hard Road.”
Now, in 2022, he has released a new album, Emotional Gangster. It features 12 new tracks with The Chubbfather on multiple instruments and doing the mixing and recording. “This record definitely reflects happier times and a good solid dose of classic blues,” he said from his studio full of guitars in the Hudson Valley. “I specifically included covers like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Dust My Broom” to show respect for the Fathers. Willie Dixon has always been my idol, you know.”
Covers are only part of the equation. The original compositions include “Equal Opportunity,” a light-hearted sing-along celebrating women. There are the French and English versions of “Why You Wanna Make War?” and harmonica wizard Jason Ricci joins Popa on the blues rock anthem, “New Way of Walking” and “Save the Best for Last.” “This record is indeed made in the spirit of new shows,” Popa said. “A new way of walking. It’s created with the intention of moving forward to an old truth and a new reality that all are appreciated for the unique energetic contribution they bring to our collective life. Love is all there is. I love you all.”
Come share the love.