Danny Gatton Article in Guitar Player 30 years Ago

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by eichaan, Mar 17, 2019 at 12:58 PM.

  1. eichaan

    eichaan Tele-Meister

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    As usual, I was re-reading the issue of GP that came out 30 years ago this month, and what struck me the most was an interview with Danny Gatton "the world's greatest unknown guitarist". I remember reading (and re-reading) this article when it came out--I was 18 and I was so glad to learn of such a versatile, talented musician. And the article really catapulted him to fame, which gave me kind of an "I knew him before..." vibe. But re-reading the article there is a subtext of sadness that I can't help but see as a foreshadowing of Gatton's future.

    You can read the full post at my blog, but here is an excerpt from the interview that fits in well with TDPRI:

    How much influence was going on between you and [Roy] Buchanan, and in what direction?

    I got two things from him–actually three. First, the appreciation of what Telecasters could do. I thought Fenders were basically pretty cheap. I was into fancy Gibsons. Second, those little picks. And then, his tone and approach to the way he played. But he didn’t show me how to do that. I saw him play many times, and he used to sneak into places where I was playing. He’d put on disguises. I’d find Roy sitting over in the corner–“What are you doing here?” “Well, I wanted to see if you played differently when I’m here than you do when I’m not around.”….And he’d call up on the pay phone, and we’d leave the phone off the hook all night long. I’d talk to him on the breaks, then go back to playing, and he’d listen over the phone. He used to come over to my house and try to analyze what kind of a player I was, and we started playing the tune that wound up being “Cajun”. He said, “That’s what you are–you’re a Cajun player.” But he didn’t write that tune; I made it up on the spot in the basement. Meanwhile, Roy was analyzing my playing.

    As far as the type of tone and the bending style…

    That’s all attributed to him. But he stole it from Albert King, I think. Everybody thinks he invented it, but I don’t think he did. He just heard it somewhere else, just like anybody does.

    The only players who cover as wide a range of styles as you are studio musicians such as Tommy Tedesco, who prides himself on being able to play a lot of styles and fake the rest. But you don’t appear to be faking anything.

    Oh, I can fake it too. As long as somebody’s laying down the changes, I can play heavy metal, if I want to. That’s how I learned to play most of the stuff–by bullshitting. I didn’t practice to learn how to do these things, I learned them onstage.

    …I look at it kind of like this: I’m sort of a curator of guitar styles. And I appreciate Link Wray playing “Rumble” as much as I do Les Paul playing “How High The Moon”, in the same what that an artist could appreciate a rock painting as opposed to a Van Gogh. They’re all art forms, whether they’re crude or advanced, and in order to appreciate them or recreate them, you have to put some study into them to figure out where the person was who did it. And a lot of times you still can’t do it over again the way it was, just because of the way conditions were and how they felt at that time.

    The blog post also includes this bit at the end that I discovered on YouTube--Gatton talking on late-night TV to Charlie Rose about this issue of Guitar Player, and the jolt it gave Gatton’s career. Check it out:



    Pretty neat stuff–at one point, it’s like watching Gatton play just for you, demonstrating various styles of music on his Tele. Rose gets at the topic of the frustration that Gatton must have felt, and Gatton is open about admitting it; he also hints at some self-sabotage. Shortly after this issue, Gatton did get a big record deal with Elektra, and put out some albums, toured the country, and became much better known. But a little over five years after I first read this interview, Gatton committed suicide. I still have trouble listening to his music, because I am haunted by the sadness lurking below the surface.
     
    dswo, since71, telemnemonics and 3 others like this.
  2. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Danny was one of a kind. He's the one guitarist that always gives me something to aspire to, there's just so much to pick out of a single performance. I love my rock players, but none of them (except maybe Hendrix) lay as much out there as Danny did.

    I can understand the difficulty in listening to him, given his end. But I try to put that aside and - just like he said - absorb what I'm hearing and try to turn it into something I can use. There's just so much in his body of work, it's pretty overwhelming.

    EDIT TO ADD: Great blog post, too. I'm bookmarking it. Thanks.

    - D
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019 at 1:15 PM
  3. eichaan

    eichaan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, StrangerNY! I appreciate the comment, and I know that the difficulty might be idiosyncratic to me. I actually have a weird thing where I remember how musicians died when I hear their songs and it does color my enjoyment in negative ways sometimes. But your approach is also really wise, and much more constructive!
     
    StrangerNY likes this.
  4. Rowdyman

    Rowdyman Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, that was great!!

    regards, RM
     
  5. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for the post. Gatton was one of the most gifted instrumentalists I’ve ever heard.
    Tommy Emmanuel comes to mind as a player today who has those unfathomable chops. Wish DG was still with us.
     
  6. Shuster

    Shuster Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Never get too much of Danny, that was a good watch, he seems so laid back and a bit camera shy. Would love to see where he would have gone with all that talent!
     
  7. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I've been making potatoe/leek soup this afternoon and, fittingly, my kitchen music is the Rhino Hot Rod Guitar double album of Danny Gatton. It's representative of everything he did from Danny and the Fat Boys, onward.

    A humble, humbler who showed us what to do, if we dared to try.
     
  8. Slip Kid

    Slip Kid Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I remember reading an article on him in Guitar World that came out a few months before the GP cover story. I consider the GP issue my true introction to him, though, thanks the Soundpage insert that he did. I went to my local recors store shortly after hearing that to have them special order the "Unfinshed Business" LP. It's still one of my all time favorite guitar records.
     
  9. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    I know a drummer who used to live across the street from Danny. He said he used to listen to Danny playing in the garage, and was always dumbfounded by what Danny was doing. He said there were a few chances he had to play with Danny, but for one reason or another, he also took a pass on it.

    I've got a few of the albums have come out over the yeras, I have Unfinished Business, 88 Elmira Street, and some of the posthumous stuff. I always thought Redneck Jazz Explosion was pretty awesome. And of course, here's The Humbler, which is probably the definitive rockabilly guitar record.

    One of the things about Danny that my friend Paul told me was that Danny was just "a normal guy". If you really wanted to hang out with him, and get him to have a conversation, you talked to him about old Ford pickups, because he was actually more into that kinda stuff than he was into talking about guitars or whatever.
     
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