WHEN I ENTERED THE “STUDIO MUSICIAN BUSINESS” in the late ’60s, Hughie was already there. I can remember
as clearly as if it were yesterday the first time we played
together. I was struck by his warmth, good humor, selfconfidence,
humility, and by the incredible musical skills
he possessed. I mean, the cat could play—and groove!
The New York session players—most of us have known
each other throughout our careers—took one of the biggest
hits of our collective lives on March 28th. The sadness
that swept through our central soul was so powerful, followed
by celebration of his incredible achievements, along with anecdotal
stories and cool photos plastered on Facebook walls. I
think he’d dig that.
Speaking of our community, New York had a small army of
really fine pickers. In our ranks were players such as David Spinnoza,
Cornell Dupree, John Tropea, Vinnie Bell, and Jerry Friedman
(no disrespect meant to dozens of other incredible guitarists,
there’s just not enough space to list them all). I think it’s safe
to call us a mutual admiration society—and Hugh McCracken
was right at the center of it.
David Spinozza said: “People use the word virtuoso to
mean someone with amazing facility on an instrument, but
what Hugh McCracken had was a sense of economic playing
that heightened any song he played on. In many situations
his guitar part became part of the composition. All of us
studio cats that had the opportunity to sit next to him on a
session learned a lot.”
Hugh could have written a book on the art of ensemble playing,
understanding as he did that good music is a good conversation.
When he spoke through his instrument, he meant every
note he played—every single one—from the heart. Of course,
Hugh’s skills weren’t limited to guitar. He was also one heck of
a soulful harmonica player, a pianist, and a fine arranger.
Hugh’s musical odyssey was nothing short of astonishing.
Laura Nyro, James Brown, Hall & Oates, Roberta Flack, Steely
Dan, Billy Joel, John and Yoko, Dolly Parton, Dr. John, Paul
McCartney, and Alicia Keys are among hundreds of artists who
valued Hughie’s beautifully well-rounded musical palette. Type
his name into your favorite search engine or AllMusic.com for
a further glimpse into his musical journeys.
He could be a bit of a prankster too. Engineer Howie Lindeman
recalls Hughie bringing a dog whistle to a few dates—you
can guess the rest!
As Will Lee stated so eloquently: “Hugh was one of the gentlest
and funniest souls to ever have graced our planet and our
lives. He never had a negative word to say about anyone. He
played the most elegant guitar parts that we ever heard, and
sometimes didn’t hear—yes, they were that elegant. And he also
brought great harmonica parts to many of our favorite records.”
I just feel so privileged to have had Hughie in my life. He set
the diamond standard.
For some reason unknown to us, GP reader Ulf Appelqvist was inspired
to display his 30-year collection of Guitar Player magazines at a recent
Robben Ford concert in Karlskrona, Sweden. Wow! Rock on, Ulf.
Victor Wooten Did Not Join a Metal Band (A Message From Vic)
Cliff Williams Announces Retirement From AC/DC After 39 Years (VIDEO)
Norah Jones to Release New Album 'Day Breaks' with John Patitucci, Vicente Archer and Chris Thomas on Bass
The AVN-GMCS PTP Grandmaster Clock is now Shipping
TransAudio Group Introduces the ATC SCM12/P1 Pro Nearfield Monitor and P1 Pro Amp Combo
Alan Parsons: Recording Rock in Austin
Weekend Chops Builder: Jazz Improvisation - The Jazz Beat
IMSTA FESTA NY - Free Master Classes
Elektron Introduces Analog Heat
The Humbler: A New Danny Gatton Documentary Is in the Works
Green Day Premiere New Song, “Still Breathing”
Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello Play “Jump” and “Highway to Hell”
Attila Premiere New Song "Ignite," Reveal Album Details for 'Chaos'
Every Time I Die Premiere 'Low Teens' Album Stream
Metallica to Perform Live on "The Howard Stern Show," Launching Limited Metallica Channel via SiriusXm
Why Do Experienced Musicians Make Mistakes?
Electric Guitar Built from Scratch in Seven-Minutes in Time-Lapse Video
Top Five Mistakes Beginners Make When Learning Guitar Online
Copyright ©2016 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470