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Watch a 14-Year-Old Eric Gales Destroying the Competition During a Battle of the Bands Contest in 1989

Still from Eric Gales' 1989 Battle of the Bands performance in Memphis
(Image credit: Eric Gales/YouTube)

Eric Gales’ career began to lift off while he was a young teenager in the late '80s. A fiercely prodigious guitarist, Gales had started playing at the age of four. By the time he was a teen, he had developed a level of musicianship that could rival players of any age.

Notorious for his explosive displays of electric blues guitar mastery, the young showman signed with Elektra in 1990 to record his debut LP, 1991’s The Eric Gales Band (opens in new tab).

Over the last 30 years, Gales has remained a prolific force in the guitar world, amassing an impressive catalog of his own while appearing on dozens of collaborations. 

His latest, this year’s Crown (opens in new tab), made its debut at the number one slot in the Billboard Blues Albums chart.

Eric Gales 'Crown' album artwork

(Image credit: Provogue Records)

Like many a guitarist, Gales has expressed his admiration for the music of Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) whose guitar wizardry was of major importance during the young musician's formative years.

And Hendrix has remained a touchstone for Gales throughout his career. Indeed, the guitarist appeared on the 2004 album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (opens in new tab) with his interpretation of 1967's “May This Be Love.” Gales also took part in the 2008 Experience Hendrix tour alongside Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell and others.

“I’d have to say my earliest memory of ‘May This Be Love’ was and still is one of the songs that emotionally moved me, even as a young lad,” said Gales.

Citing Hendrix as a major influence not just on him but on virtually every guitarist that came after, Gales remarked, “He brought to the world things that had never been explored in music.”

Still from Eric Gales' 1989 Battle of the Bands performance in Memphis

(Image credit: Eric Gales/YouTube)

In this monumental amateur video recording from 1989, a 14-year-old Gales can be seen and heard channeling the raw power of Hendrix as he bowls over a Memphis battle of the bands panel during a jaw-dropping performance of “Spanish Castle Magic."

Guitar flipped 180 and decked out in a kimono (likely a nod to Hendrix’s 1969 The Dick Cavett Show appearance (opens in new tab)) Gales stuns the room with a precocious display of virtuosity, firmly planting his flag as a guitarist to be reckoned with.

Browse the Eric Gales catalog here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar, as well as contributions for specialist books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.