Saturday, September 4, 2010

World's Greatest Unknown Guitarist

Danny Gatton

Danny Gatton was born in Washington, D.C. on September 4, 1945. He began his career playing in bands while still a teenager. He made his name as a performer in the Washington, DC, area during the late 1970s and 1980s, both as a solo performer and with his Redneck Jazz Explosion, in which he would trade licks with virtuoso pedal steel player Buddy Emmons. Gatton's playing combined musical styles such as jazz, blues and rockabilly in an innovative fashion, and he was known by some as "the Telemaster".

He usually played a 1953 Fender Telecaster and Fender now manufactures a replica of his heavily customized instrument. His picking technique was a hybrid combination of pick and finger rolls based on Scruggs style banjo picking., He possessed a classical guitar left hand technique, thumb behind the neck, fretting with arched fingers.

His skills were most appreciated by his peers including his childhood idol Les Paul. However, he never achieved the commercial success that his talent deserved. His album 88 Elmira Street was up for a 1990 Grammy Award for the song "Elmira Street Boogie" in the category Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

On October 4, 1994, Gatton locked himself in his garage in Newburg, Maryland and shot himself. He left behind no explanation. In retrospect of his suicide, people around Danny have suggested that he may have gone in and out of depression for many years.