(Gibson) Few guitarists in recent years have been showered with more accolades than Gary Clark Jr. has. Boasting a style rooted deeply in the blues, the Austin-based Clark is bringing new vigor to the genre-injecting funk, R&B, and contemporary urban elements into a traditional blues foundation. A while back, not long after the release of his acclaimed studio album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, I spoke with Clark about topics ranging from how he crafts solos to the importance of practice. In conjunction with Gibson's recent announcement of the Gary Clark Jr. Signature SG, we present that interview below, published for the very first time.
You began playing guitar when you were 12 years ago. How did you go about learning? We were on Christmas break-out of school. The day I went back to school, I went to the library and checked out two books. One was titled "How to Play Guitar," and the other, "Basic Guitar." I studied the chord charts, learning and getting familiar with placing my fingers in the right position, going for it until it didn't hurt any more. Later I started figuring out leads by watching other players. A lot of that came from watching "Austin City Limits" on TV every Saturday night. That's how it started. I also listened to the Jackson 5 and other soul records, plus the jazz and blues records that my Dad listened to, along with stuff on the radio.
Which albums influenced you most? There were three that changed my life-the Jimi Hendrix compilation The Ultimate Experience, Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood, and Albert Collins' Collins Mix, which featured later recordings of some of Collins' early hits and some fresh tunes as well. Each of those records was different from the other. Stevie Ray Vaughan was fierce and technical. Hendrix was ethereal and heady, and took me to a place I had never been before. And Albert Collins had such a piercing tone-no real chords, just all improvisation. I studied and learned those records, note for note. Read more here.
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