Legendary Electric Blues Guitarists

Born as Michael Bernard Bloomfield on July 28, 1943 in Chicago, this legendary blues guitarist laid hands on his first guitar at the age of 13. His magic with the guitar caught the attention of a CBS talent scout who signed him on. However, the contract didn’t lead to any record releases. It was only when Paul Rothchild approached Bloomfield and recruited him to play slide guitar and piano for the Butterfield Blues Band. Bloomfield and Butterfield parted ways in early 1967 and Bloomfield went on to form his own band, called The Electric Flag. However, bad management, ego clashes and drug abuse caused the band to fall apart. Mike, then, went on to play studio sessions and jam with other guitarists. Super Session was the result of one such session. While Super Session did astoundingly well, Mike didn’t consider it a real classic. Bloomfield continued to play gigs in the San Francisco area in the seventies and recorded a number of traditional blues albums and instructional albums for smaller record labels.  Mike Bloomfield’s drug and health problems continued and he was found dead in his car on February 15, 1981.

Roy Buchanan is yet another legendary blues guitarist who created waves in the world of music by using his Fender Telecaster and creating squeals instead of the customary feedback and distortion. Born on September 23, 1939, in Arizona, Buchanan played both as a sideman and a solo artist. He made his recording debut in 1958 with Dale Hawkins, only to leave him in 1960 and join the latter’s cousin, Ronnie Hawkins. Buchanan played as a sideman with a number of bands and cut several sessions with musicians. It was in one such recording session with drummer Bobby Gregg that Buchanan introduced his soon-to-be trademark squeal. During his lifetime, he released 12 albums. According to his Amazon.com page, “The Buchanan sound is unique: heartbreaking, searing solos, trademark shimmering tone, gorgeous melodies and a mixture of lightning quickness and technical creativity that mark him as a wizard of the instrument.” The last album released was Hot Wires in 1987. Buchanan died in Virginia at the age of 48.     

Born on 30th March,1945, Eric Clapton CBE, is a living legend in the world of music. He is an English blues-rock guitarist who is also an incredibly talented singer, songwriter and composer. Among his many awards and distinctions is the rare honor of being a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Triple Inductee. Born to a single mother, Eric was raised by his grandparents and grew up believing them to be his parents and his mother to be his sister. On realizing the truth at the age of nine, Eric withdrew and became reticent and introspective. It was at the age of 13, he got his first guitar and though he didn’t play it, it had caught his imagination. At 17, he joined his first band, The Roosters. While this gig didn’t last long, Eric Clapton had most definitely arrived and things were only going to move forward. Throughout his musical career, Clapton has been viewed as unique, influential and integral to the realm of guitars, rock and roll and music. In 2010, Clapton was ranked as Number 4 on Gibsons Top 50 Guitarists of All Times. Layla and Crossroads are two of his most famous and popular songs.

Born in 1944, as John Dawson Winter III, this legendary blues guitarist has seen a lot of ups and downs in his musical career. Johnny’s recording career began at the age of 15, but his big break came when Mike Bloomfield, a legendary blues guitarist, asked him to play and sing a song during a concert. This led to being spotted by a Columbia Records representative and being signed to the largest advance in recording history at that time. There were successful years but there were also periods filled with drug use, health crises, and bad deals that affected Winter’s career. However, today, he has overcome all of that and is on the road to creating more records for music lovers.

Super SessionBorn on August 1, 1953 in Columbus, Georgia, Robert Cray is an American Blues guitarist and singer. Cray’s journey into the world of guitar-playing and music started in high school. This led to him forming his first band at the age of 20. The Robert Cray Band was formed in 1974 and has been in the blues and soul music business for close to 30 years with Robert Cray as the inspiring frontman. Cray has won 5 Grammy awards and his latest album Cookin’ In Mobile released in July, 2010 has gotten rave reviews.

Born Ronald Hovarth on March 10, 1953, Ronnie Earl adopted the last name, “Earl” sometime in 1979. This legendary blues guitarist was inspired by Muddy Waters and his first guitarist gig was with Speakeasy, a blues club in Cambridge, MA. In 1979, he joined A Roomful of Blues as lead guitarist and played with them for nearly 8 years. In 1988, Earl formed his own band called The Broadcasters. Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters have been in business now for over 20 years and won several awards. Earl also has the distinction of being an Associate Professor of Guitar at Berklee College of Music and has also released instructional videos and held workshops.  

Billy Gibbons was born on 16th December, 1949 and is best known as the Texas blues-rock band, ZZ Top’s lead guitarist. Gibbons was born in a family of entertainers and music-lovers. His father was an orchestra leader and concert pianist while a second cousin was an art director at MGM. According to his official website, Gibbons formed his first band, called The Saints, at the age of 14 but it was in 1969, when he teamed up with Billy Etheridge and Lanier Greg to form the ZZ Top that gigs started rolling in and Billy Gibbons had officially arrived on the blues-rock scene. The ZZ Top and Billy Gibbons have a characteristic style that can best be described as “upside down”.