Born Ted Horowitz in the Bronx, New York, Popa Chubby was the son of a candy store owner. At 13, Chubby began playing drums; shortly thereafter, he discovered the music of the Rolling Stones and began playing guitar. Although he grew up in the 1970s, Chubby took his cue from artists of the '60s, including Sly & the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, among others. By the time he was in his early twenties, he enjoyed and played blues music, but also worked for a while backing punk poet Richard Hell. Chubby's first big break was winning a national blues talent search sponsored by KLON, a public radio station in Long Beach, California. He won the New Artist of the Year award and opened at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1992.
Chubby played more than 200 club dates a year through the '90s. His Sony/OKeh debut, Booty and the Beast, was produced by longtime Atlantic Records engineer/producer Tom Dowd, whose recordings by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, and others are legendary. In 1994, Chubby released several albums on his own Laughing Bear label, It's Chubby Time and Gas Money, before landing his deal with Sony Music/OKeh Records for Booty and the Beast, his major-label debut, released in 1995. In 1996, the 1 (800) PrimeCD label released a live recording of Chubby's, Hit the High Hard One. Two years later, One Million Broken Guitars was released on Lightyear Records; Brooklyn Basement Blues followed in 1999. In 2000, Chubby signed with the Blind Pig label and released How'd a White Boy Get the Blues? in 2001. The disc turned out to be a slight departure, incorporating elements of contemporary pop and hip-hop. Arriving in 2002, The Good, the Bad and the Chubby showed great development in the artist's songwriting and included the 9/11 commentary "Somebody Let the Devil Out." Blind Pig released a collection of early Chubby recordings, The Hungry Years, in 2003. Troubled by the war in Iraq, Chubby released his most political album, Peace, Love and Respect, a year later.
Two albums previously available only in France -- Live at FIP and Wild Live! -- were compiled by the Blind Pig label and released as Big Man Big Guitar in 2005, followed by a new studio set called Stealing the Devil's Guitar a year later. Electric Chubbyland, a two-disc set of Chubby covering Jimi Hendrix songs, appeared from Dixie Frog that same year, and was then repackaged and issued as two single discs by Blind Pig in 2007. In 2008, Chubby released the country-punk-inflected Vicious Country on Dixie Frog, followed by a return to blues-rock in 2010 with The Fight Is On. The year 2011 found him moving to the Provogue label for the album Back to New York City. Universal Breakdown Blues followed in 2013 and featured Chubby's cover version of "Over the Rainbow" as its centerpiece. In 2016 Chubby released his 16th studio long-player, the hard-charging Catfish. The rock- and soul-influenced Two Dogs followed in 2017. ~ Richard Skelly & Al Campbell