Sometimes it’s really nice to think back and recall some of the key players and general sounds that helped influence me and my guitar playing in the early days. I’m sure many of you have these kinds of memories, or are busy making those memories as we speak!
I was fortunate to go to a great High school in NYC, called the High School of Music and Art, where you had music students and art students. I was actually an art student, and many of us were already playing the guitar for the sheer love of it, even though we were not music students. Many of the music students really didn’t even like music that much, as they felt that they were too “pushed” into it by their parents, and that they couldn’t wait to get out of it! I bet most of those kids never even continued playing music after High School was done!
Anyway, that was a great time for me, as it was right at the beginning of a huge Blues boom (we’ve had many since!) where we’d listen to greats such as Mike Bloomfield and B.B. King right at that time. Bloomfield had a profound influence on me, and I found myself getting so deeply into the Blues, that I immediately started “going back” deeper and deeper into the blues roots, going from B.B. to Son House, to Robert Johnson etc.. It seemed as if I couldn’t feed my hunger for this medium fast enough, and had a true passion as both a fan and as a learning player!
Being a true “absorber” of these sounds, I found I was in love with “all things guitar”, and that the country players were simultaneously having just as profound an effect on me as the blues players. This was precisely when my “own style” began to develop, as I was as much in love with Clarence White of The Byrds, as I was Buddy Guy! At that time, my family had a house up in White Lake, NY, the location of the original Woodstock Festival, and one of my favorite things to do was to tune into some of the Country AM radio stations that were there in the close-by state of Pennsylvania, as well as some further away, such as WWVA, from Wheeling, West Virginia, where I would hear the weekly “WWVA Jamboree”, and hear those lovely steel guitars and other country sounds I just wasn’t as exposed to in NYC.
It was all about having those “open ears” to all those great guitar sounds, and then artistically applying them to how I really wanted to sound personally, and also to my songwriting, which I was soon putting to immediate use with my first serious band, Steel. More on those days in the future! Till then, see ya later!