Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cruisin' Deuces

"He's been called the 'World's Greatest Unknown Guitarist', but what famous guitarist could outplay him?"
-Guitar Player magazine; Mar. '89

Danny Gatton, nicknamed "The Humbler" (a monkier given him by Amos Garrett), started playing guitar in 1957 at the age of 12. Deciphering the riffs of his hero Les Paul, soon he was playing a perfect note-for-note duplication of "How High the Moon". His parents urged him to pick up the pace of Bill Dorrett's "Honky Tonk" and songs by Chet Atkins and their neighbor, Roy Clark. The kid had some hip folks, eh?! At the age of thirteen, Gatton appeared on a local Washington D.C. country music TV show and played "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" so fast on his Vega 5-string banjo that the show's band couldn't keep up. The host, Don Owens, asked young Danny how long he had been playing. "Seven months" was the youngster's reply!

Joining D.C.'s active music scene around 1974 with his newly formed band, Danny and the Fat Boys, Gatton soon became the guitarist of choice. Armed with his self-customized '53 Fender Telecaster, Gatton played a diverse repertoire of guitar-driven musical styles. Blues, rockabilly, country rock, funk, jazz and blends of each. His legendary status grew through the '70s as he teamed with pedal steel innovator, Buddy Emmons, forming the fiery Redneck Jazz Explosion. He briefly joined Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen in 1978. In the early '80s he played with country star Roger Miller and the neo-rockabilly Robert Gordon.

Guitar Player magazine, in 1989, named him "World’s Greatest Unknown Guitar Player". Earning him his second nickname, "The Telemaster". In 1991 he released the critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated album 88 Elmira St. Despite it's popularity with guitar enthusiasts, the album didn’t sell well, nor did his 1993 followup, Cruisin’ Deuces. Though he seemed on the road to success, he was dropped by Elektra, and on October 20th, 1994 the guitar world lost a great talent when Danny Gatton died by his own hand.

Gatton's electronic innovations were honored by Fender with the issue of the Danny Gatton Signature Line. Fender also sponsored a benefit concert for his daughter's college fund.

I was fortunate to see Danny Gatton several times in the late 1970s/early 1980s. In fact I bought my copy of Redneck Jazz, pressed on bright red vinyl, at one of his shows with Buddy Emmons in D.C.
He is sorely missed.

Danny Gatton - Funky Mama.mp3
from 88 Elmira St.

Danny Gatton - Elmira St. Boogie.mp3
from 88 Elmira St.

Danny Gatton - Thirteen Women.mp3
from Cruisin' Deuces

Danny Gatton - Slidin' Home.mp3
from 88 Elmira St.

Danny Gatton's recordings are now being re-released by Big Mo. If you don't have any, you'll need to get some.


Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

That is some kind of party music. Think I will get myself to the record store and see if I can get a Danny Gratton cd to play when Canada politely accepts a gold medal in hockey at the Olympics. Seems to me there was a hockey player once who went by the name Danny Gratton.

I have heard of this guy before. It is easy to read about someone good and then forget about him. On a ride on the Bus blog I have found myself with the guy's music and it is unforgetable.

February 17, 2006 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Ed, all I can say is, "Oh hell yeah!" Damn good picks.

February 17, 2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

It is odd how us Canadians can take a name like "Gatton" and instantly switch it to the French "Gratton". Especially when we have had a few pops!

February 17, 2006 9:10 PM  

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