He was the rarest of breeds—a guitarist’s guitarist with an innate grasp of bittersweet country sounds, wailing blues licks, sophisticated jazz harmonies, and balls-out rock and roll, all presented with spine-tingling tone, innovative techniques, and a down-home nonchalance that could be downright disarming. Roy Buchanan (1939-1988) immeasurably altered the evolutionary course of the electric guitar by introducing previously unheard but now commonplace tones and techniques to the instrument’s pantheon using only the simplest tools and a vivid imagination.
Perceived by many as an enigma, Buchanan was ultimately a family man who simply didn’t give a hoot about stardom—he just wanted to play the guitar on his own terms. And that’s exactly what he did, garnering a legion of diehard followers along the way. A short list of Buchanan freaks past and present includes Mick Jagger (whose Rolling Stones attempted to enlist Roy following Mick Taylor’s departure), Paul McCartney and John Lennon (both of whom unsuccessfully tried to record with Buchanan), Jeff Beck (who dedicated his signature version of Stevie Wonder’s “’Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” to Roy), Les Paul (who compared Buchanan to Hendrix), Eric Clapton, Mundell Lowe, Merle Haggard, Ray Flacke, Robbie Robertson, Jim Weider, Nils Lofgren, Arlen Roth, and scores of others.
Excepted from Jesse Gress’ “10 Things You Gotta Do to Play Like Roy Buchanan” in the August 2009 issue of Guitar Player.
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