It has been my extreme good hap to have run into an extraordinary number of fine guitar players in my musical ramblings. I don't really know why 'tis so, but I ain't gonna question the Gods in this matter.
Take a look at these cats here and you will quickly see what I mean. Think of them as my Magnificent Seven.
I won't rank them in any particular order, except for the first fellow, who if only for sheer accomplishment clearly must stand foremost amongst them. I mean, he's had his picture taken with The Beatles!
This lad, from a far away place with a strange sounding name, appeared on my second LP, "Crosswords", released in 1976. He played slide guitar on a song called Direct Me and sang harmony (with Leon Russell) on one called Wishing I Could. We are talking guitar here, but I will add that three-part harmony didn't seem to hold much mystery for him. He's really good, and is fairly well known to anyone who keeps a close ear to the musical ground. I haven't seen George lately, and am unsure if he has his own website (they are so costy). Hey, I don't even know if he still plays a guitar, but I know he sure can. To learn more about him you might try Google, I suppose, or click here to read a yarn I wrote about the experience of picking with him.
Now here's a picker who's a real pal, as well. Tony G started playing in my group in 1976 and we still get together for the occasional grand occasion. Tony was a country-rocker with me, and then moved to L.A. where he got way into rockabilly stuff. He played in the band, Lone Justice, for a time, and finally wound up with John Doe and his So-Cal punkster group, X. But I prayed for the guy and he's much better now. Tony's sis, Eliza, is a fine musician as well, and they both draw heavily on the gene pool of their dad, Terry Gilkyson, one of the more successful songwriters of the 20th century. A bi-lingual south-westerner, Tony still lives in LA-LA land where we recently collaborated on a pet project of mine called "Country & Mexican Music."
Frank was one of the first people I met when I moved to the Santa Cruz, CA music scene circa 1970. He had such speedy fingers we all called him, "Fast Farm". A progressive county guy along the lines of Clarence White, he even had a B-string bender on his little Gibson TV model, and it is very prominent on his work with me. He was touring on and off with Hoyt Axton at the time I recorded my first LP, "aka Lorenzo", but with few exceptions, played all the lead licks on that record ("Crosswords" too). He later replaced Albert Lee and spent some 10 years with Emmy Lou Harris' Hot Band. I sure can pick 'em. Very IQish, he is these days an attorney in the realm of Native Americana in the Santa Fe, NM area, where I am certain he is still a very popular guy.
James is one of the premiere guitarists in the history of rock music, especially country rock music. I first saw him on the tube with Ricky Nelson, then on "Shindig" as leader of the Shindogs. But then, didn't everyone? Elvis, Merle, Gram Parsons, Emmy Lou, John Denver, on, on -- James has worked with everybody. Even me. We did several sessions in LA in 1978 for Warner Bros. Records. Nothing was ever released but it sure wasn't James' fault. He's your consummate, "What's so hard about this stuff?" musician. At one point my producer asked him to, "Make it sound like snow." James blinked twice, snatched up a Small Stone phase shifter, plugged in his paisley Telly, and damned if he didn't do just that. I am still all a-shiver.
In 1978 Danny came out west from Washington DC and played in my group for a time in Santa Cruz. Now deceased, he was often referred to as "The Best Unknown Guitarist In The World." I might pretty much endorse that idea, but hey -- I knew the dood! Absolutely amazing. Stringed instrument-wise, DG could do virtually anything on anything -- and do it at will. His skills were so astoundingly unique it was spooky. I mean, unearthly. And fast? If Frank Reckard was Fast Farm, then Danny was like some Rocket Ranch. In this pic he is playing with his favorite slide, a Heineken beer bottle.
Jer is the legendary lead guitarist from the legendary Moby Grape. He was something of a boy wonder. Even pre-Grape, the solo on Bobby Fuller's "I Fought The Law" was a JM classic. I met him in Santa Cruz in the early '70's, and have worked with him many times on stage and in the stu. Work? Nah. More correctly, read, "play." He's a fun kinda guy. That L-5 is Beulah, his life-long favorite gal. Check out those classic curves. And he can make her sing, you bet. Licks-wise, Jerry is a bottomless bag of spontaneity and grin-worthy surprises, a, "1-2-3-4, Let's see what happens," bundle of joy. His knack for getting out of hot jam jams has lead a friend of mine to label him an, "escape artist." Yet y'know, all of Jerry's outrageous improvisational abilities notwithstanding, I think he is most proud of his ability to play "Honky Tonk" the hard way -- in the key of F.
I have saved Ken for last, 'cause he is the best. Met the fella about 1969 and wound up playing bass with him a few years later in the very notorious Snail band in Santa Cruz. You might remember the poster of the first Snail LP from Mork & Mindy's living room wall. Anyway, we have 30-plus years of picking together under our belts, and we are very intuit. I've never met a guitarist less mistakey, more toney, or equally cool. Ken is way cool. C'mon -- his nickname is The Rishi, as in Maja. The guy's a guru. And, oh yes -- he's an outrageously great slide man. Sealing the deal fave guy-wise with The Rishi is this: he gets ALL of my jokes. Were I to write some tortured gag like, "...we are very intuit. I've never...", Ken would get it.
There are a good many more great guitarists in the Larry Hosford alumni, and I intend to give them their due here soon. I just started you out with the more famous ones so you will believe I know whereof I speak when I get to the unstrung heros.