Danny Gatton Article in Guitar Player 30 years Ago

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by eichaan, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. eichaan

    eichaan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    49
    Posts:
    512
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    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.
     
    Paul in Colorado, djh22, dswo and 5 others like this.
  2. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Posts:
    3,508
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    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
  3. eichaan

    eichaan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    49
    Posts:
    512
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    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

    Age:
    64
    Posts:
    154
    Joined:
    May 17, 2013
    Location:
    Eastern Canada
    Thanks, that was great!!

    regards, RM
     
  5. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    2,678
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2005
    Location:
    N. Cal.
    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 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    4,122
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2018
    Location:
    Bulverde Tx.
    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

    Posts:
    3,382
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Location:
    Williamsville NY
    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

    Posts:
    387
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Location:
    Connecticut
    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

    Posts:
    356
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2016
    Location:
    Someplace called Ohio
    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.
     
  10. dickey

    dickey Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,162
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    Location:
    Florida
    To me, Danny & Roy were the 2 biggest guitar influences ever; in fact the greatest compliment I ever got while playing was a chick who came up to me while onstage about 25 years ago at O'Lunney's in NYC & said "You know, you sound a little like this guy Danny Gatton; ever hear of him?" To be even mentioned in the same sentence with Danny really blew me away when I was no where NEAR his level of proficiency & technique.

    The only 2 players in my mind today that can come close is Tommy Emmanuel, & Scotty Anderson. Both, like Danny, are uber players, and I can't even BEGIN to aspire to their level.
     
  11. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    19,449
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    Danny Gatton was my Roy Buchanan.

    I regret not seeing him. And he played a small club near here many times where I could have.

    Tommy Emmanuel is indeed a “Great” and seems super nice too which counts for a lot. He is also a musician first/guitar player second imho...
     
  12. djh22

    djh22 Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    994
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Location:
    VA
    Thanks for posting that clip. Danny was shy, interesting, and one of the nicest guys that I've ever met.
     
  13. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    23,351
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    I was living in Charlottesville, VA when I first heard of Danny. A local guitar teacher loaned me his first instruction video (the independent one, not the Hot Licks) and I was blown away. For one reason or another I never took the trek up to DC to see Danny play and I really regret that.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.