Roy Buchanan

Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential blues guitarists of all time, Roy Buchanan never achieved widespread fame in his own right, but his exciting brand of blues rock and guitar harmonics provided inspiration for everyone from John Lennon to Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Robbie Robertson, Jerry Garcia, Gary Moore and Billy Gibbons. He was a pioneer of the Telecaster electric guitar and at one point he was even asked to join The Rolling Stones as replacement for Brian Jones but turned it down due to personal circumstances. The son of a sharecropper and Pentecostal preacher from Ozark, Arkansas, his musical roots were sown while growing up in Pixley, California, singing gospel in church and hearing country music on the radio. He first started playing guitar at the age of seven and initially specialised in steel guitar; the track 'Mrs Pressure' on his Grammy nominated album 'When a Guitar Sings the Blues' in 1985 was a tribute to his steel guitar teacher. At the age of 15, he moved from Pixley to Los Angeles and landed under the wing of band leader Johnny Otis and was strongly influenced by the string-bending blues playing of guitarist Jimmy Nolen. Having formed his own band The Heartbeats, he went on to make his recording debut in 1958 backing Dale Hawkins and later played with Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson, who went on to form The Band. Throughout the 1960s he was a highly regarded session guitarist playing on recordings by Freddy Cannon and Danny Denver before putting down his guitar to train as a hairdresser. However, his musical career was dramatically re-launched by a TV documentary which resulted in a solo record deal and the invitation to join The Rolling Stones. He went on to record five acclaimed albums for Polydor and three for Atlantic, but quit in frustration in 1981 after reportedly feeling creatively stifled. When Alligator Records promised the artistic freedom he craved, he returned with his most famous work 'When a Guitar Sings the Blues', followed by 'Dancing On the Edge' (1986) and 'Hot Wires' (1987). However, a long history of heavy drinking resulted in tragedy when he was arrested for intoxication and later commited suicide in his jail cell in Fairfax County, Virginia in 1988.

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