Monday, September 4, 2017

Roy Buchanan

The best musician I've even heard, whom I was privileged to see perform in concert during the Seventies, is Roy Buchanan. Informed music-fans and scholars recognize Roy as one of the most-accomplished guitar-players of all time. In fact, in the Seventies he was often called"The Greatest Unknown Guitarist In The World."

Roy could make a guitar sing. And weep. And make sounds you never expected from strings. During the concert I heard, I was amazed to my core. Not only was his playing virtuoso, it was so full of emotion. Overflowing with bombastic emotion. You react to something like that; you can't not react.

Rob was born in 1939 to poor parents in Ozark, Arkansas. His father Leroy was a sharecropper; his mother Minnie "worked as hard as a man." Roy's first exposure to music was Gospel in church. He later fused that influence with blues, jazz and ultimately rock. He ended up making rock-n-roll but with depth rarely found in that genre.

During the Fifties and Sixties, Roy performed in obscurity, usually as a session-man behind more famous musicians. His talent was sought out by other performers and he taught many guitarists how to improve.

Asked by a reporter why he's so skilled, Roy said it's because he's "half-wolf."  :-)

During his career, Roy made 12 albums. They don't capture the true magic of his performances. Fortunately, however, PBS did a one-hour TV special on Roy in 1972 called "Introducing Roy Buchanan -- The World's Greatest Unknown Guitarist." It's free to watch on YouTube and can be seen below.

Sadly, Roy died young at 48. After drinking, he was roughed up by cops and found hung in a jail-cell with bruises on his head. The authorities called it suicide but Roy's family and friends don't believe that.

Roy lived a life worth paying attention to. His musical talent transported me to another place.


  1. I am so glad you got to experience this special concert. Gifted musicians can indeed transport us. What a tragic amd mysterious end to his life though.. how relevant, too.
    Thanks for sharing !
    Xx, Elle

  2. When music really moves you...its the best feeling ever! Such a sad ending of such talent!

  3. I love finding music that I connect to. Roy Buchanan is a fabulous musician! My uncle was a musician and I got my love of classic rock from him. :)

  4. Oh what a sad end for such a talent! Why is it so often the case? I feel so sad for them!x

  5. A blast from the past. I had not heard the name Roy Buchanan in years, perhaps decades. I like good live music and seek it out where I can find it. Over the weekend we saw a "Tribute to Mark Knopfler - Dire Straits". I have heard many cover bands but you never hear anyone even try to cover Dire Straits. The group called themselves 'Spare Parts' and some of the members had played with several name acts. The lead guitarist, Gordon 'Bunker' Strout is one of the best guitar players I have ever seen. He hit the songs note for not. Parts of the show at the Algonquin THeater in Manasquan, NJ are on YouTube but it does not do the live show justice.

    1. Cool. I agree most recordings fail to capture the magic of live performance.

  6. Thanks for sharing about this super talented musician ... I must admit that I had not heard of him before but it is sad that such a talent died so young!!!