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Rediscovering Roy Buchanan; Blues Guitar Legend
While I am very passionate about my music, guitar playing and blues, I am by no means an expert on these subjects. I’m always open to new artists and a lot of artists that have been highly praised by other musicians that I just haven’t had the chance to listen to yet.
This explains to some why I never listened to Roy Buchanan until recently.
If you read as much about music, guitars, guitarists, and playing guitar as I do, certain names keep popping up as major players in the guitar world. People like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Peter Greene, etc. I’ve heard of most of these people and have generally been listening to their music for years, as have many others. Everyone who knows rock and roll has probably heard of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and those who know classic rock can easily recognize Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. However, one name, Roy Buchanan, kept popping up and I could never really pinpoint his music or why some people I consider a guitar legend would cite him as one of his influences.
That is until recently…
While reading about rock and roll and preparing to present The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I stumbled upon a video of none other than Roy Buchanan playing “Hey Joe,” the much better known Jimi Hendrix version. I knew and loved the Hendrix version and remembered hearing about Roy Buchanan so much that I was intrigued. I watched the video and suddenly I had a new guitar idol.
This blues guitarist wrung the notes out of his guitar so expertly that it sent chills down my spine. Roy Buchanan uses a volume control technique to create an almost fiddle-like effect, typical blues guitar techniques and lots of emotion, and he took the song I only knew because of Hendrix and created a slow bluesy, absolutely heart-wrenching version. unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It was raw, real and authentic that I was immediately impressed. I watched every video of Roy Buchanan I could find that night.
Roy’s playing seemed to be primarily emotional, like the blues, but with noticeable technical expertise that was exciting but not flashy. Plus, when he hit the volume control on his guitar, he could actually make a sound like the guitar was crying. Well, it works as an exciting technique, but it allowed him to create very vocal-sounding solos that had the swells, dynamics, and accents that a vocal soloist would use, and it added so much soul to the solo.
As for the music, I wasn’t so much impressed by the technical expertise of the instruments (although that can be impressive), but more by the musician’s ability to convey the emotion of the song, add to it, and enhance the harmony. vibe. Anyone can learn to play a million notes blindingly fast, but if someone can express their soul through the instrument, that’s what it’s all about. With his wailing guitar and tonal range from smooth, round and transparent to bitingly sharp and gravelly, Roy has chosen these songs from slow to sad to hard-edged to soulful at will. He is truly a master of guitar expression.
As I read more about Roy Buchanan, I realized that his music is generally overlooked by guitarists, especially blues players. This seems such a shame. For me, music is about emotions, about how it makes me feel and how well I can relate to those feelings. This is why I gravitated towards the blues when I was older. The blues is probably the most emotional genre of music, as the main focus is often heartache, a very emotional subject. The best musicians in any genre can convey their feelings and soul through their music. Roy Buchanan was definitely one of the best in my book. His playing had such an impact on my guitar playing that I wish I had discovered his music sooner. This really inspired me to try to put every bit of myself and soul into my game.
Roy Buchanan’s music may not be for everyone, as not everyone likes blues or guitar playing, but for those who like both and haven’t checked out Roy Buchanan’s work yet, it’s worth it. His blues is earthier, more rustic than some famous Chicago blues players (BB King, Buddy Guy) and has a touch of jazz, but his passion is just as evident and his guitar playing is magical.
Some artists never get the credit they really deserve, but if an artist can inspire others, they are successful, and because he inspired other musicians, including myself, I think Roy Buchanan deserves a little more credit. I hope more people are as inspired by Roy Buchanan’s music as I am.
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