The idea of mentoring and truly “leading” someone from being a student to someone actually in the musical profession is a great honor, as well as a great responsibility. Matt Rae and Joe Dalton have been my biggest accomplishments personally, but I do know, from the letters and reactions I received over the years, I have had quite an influence over many players all over the world. This is a very humbling thing to be aware of, and I can literally see it on the faces of so many of the thousands of players I have performed for, or given clinics in front of all over the world.
Mentoring can be a subtle, reverse thing, too, as I felt that when I was in the presence of my late, great friend, Danny Gatton many times. For example, I know he had a ton of respect for me as a player, but there were times, especially when we were recording together, that I felt that I knew, and HE knew, that I was also learning some very subtle things from him. Let’s face it, the better most of us get, the more subtle and sophisticated what we can learn from others becomes. He and I also shared an interesting and rare kind of relationship, because we had a mutual respect for each other’s playing for YEARS before we even had the chance to finally meet each other, and really work together.
That session for “Tequila” which we did together on “Toolin’ Around” was a perfect example of reverse mentoring for me, as not only did I learn a great deal from him as a player, but the pride and diligence with which he worked for perfection that day was astounding! For example, when we were done recording, which took about 4 to 5 hours, he decided that he was not going to be satisfied until he knew that I was happy with the mix. So, instead of just hanging out, getting dinner together or whatever else we may have normally done after the session, he stayed well into the night, and worked alongside the engineer till we were both satisfied. It was as if he knew we had something special here that if he didn’t see right through to the end, it would never be as good as we remembered it. That day, he was really like a big brother to me, and I never felt like everything was so “under control” in a long time! “Mentoring” indeed! Danny was the greatest…both as a player and as a human being!