This year, Popa Chubby, who was born Ted Horowitz, marks twenty five years of rocking the blues as Popa Chubby. Over the course of a career that dates back to 1994, he has been a force of to be reckoned with on the guitar, and his tempestuous, soulful playing has never been more powerful. An imposing figure with a shaven head, tattooed arms, a goatee and a performance style he describes as “the Stooges meets Buddy Guy, Motörhead meets Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix meets Robert Johnson,” Popa Chubby is an endearing character who is one of the genre’s most popular figures.
His career has always been about moving forward and carving a place for himself in the imposing terrain of the music business, overcoming odds to continue growing and maturing as a creative force. He has built a constantly increasing base of fans across the world, where in many territories he is a star. A native New Yorker, Horowitz’s first gigs were in the NYC punk scene as a guitarist for what he reflects was a “crazy Japanese special effects performance artist in a kimono called Screaming Mad George who had a horror-movie inspired show.” Right from the start
he was immersed in rock ‘n’ roll as theater, and learned from George and others playing CBGB’s at the time that included the Ramones, the Cramps, Richard Hell, whose band, the Voidoids he joined that rock ‘n’ roll should be dangerous. He reflects, “Musicians like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols weren’t just bands. They were a threat to society.”
The Blues however was the foundation of his playing style. He recalls, “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 should be dangerous, too. It wasn’t just from playing in 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.”
Popa Chubby is his own man for better or worse. He reflects, “I’m living in a wild time, and that is where the inspiration is drawn from within Universal Breakdown Blues. There are my issues, but the picture is much bigger than me and my situation. Everything is breaking down in the world. The lines are being redefined. We all need something.”