T-Bone Walker

One of the great early electric blues guitarists, T-Bone Walker's flamboyant style and groundbreaking fretwork paved the way for the likes of B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix. Taught to play a variety of instruments by his stepfather, Walker (real name Aaron Thibeaux Walker) left school at the age of ten and was mentored by family friend and legendary bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson before cutting his teeth by performing at carnival shows across Texas in the 1920s. He made his first recordings for Columbia Records in 1929, but really found his feet when he moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and played on records by Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong and with Les Hite's jazz band Sebastian's Cotton Club Orchestra. Full of outrageous feats of showmanship, Walker became the first guitarist to play with his teeth, behind his head and while doing the splits; and his reputation led to a string of pioneering R&B hits throughout the 1940s, including Call It Stormy Monday, Bobby Sox Blues and Hard Pain Blues. He recorded some of his finest work in the 1950s for the Imperial and Atlantic Records labels, but his drinking slowed his prolific output towards the end of the decade. The American folk and blues boom introduced him to a new audience in the mid-1960s and he toured with Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon before winning a Grammy Award for his last great album Good Feelin' (1970). He died in 1975 from bronchial pneumonia, but was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

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