His nickname, "Skydog," was either a reference to his signature Les Paul SG guitar
Lifesound and tone or, as Keith Richards said in his autobiography, , "because he was
high much of the time." Sorry for the quality of "Don't Keep Me Wondering" but there
isn't much video on Duane other than his gig on ABC's "In Concert" TV show (1972)
and grainy stuff from the '71 Fillmore East gig. Another great moment from a Duane
appearance at the Filmore East was this jam with The Grateful Dead on "Dark Star"
from 1970. This audio track of Duane's unreleased album, "Steal Away" has a great
outro solo. "Little Martha" is a video "dedicated to a brother" on the 35th anniversary of
his death on Oct. 29,1971 in a motorcycle accident near his home in Macon, GA. Now
it's nothing but "Blue Sky" for Duane. How fitting I end this section on Duane with his
slide version of "Amazing Grace". RIP Duane.
Smooth, silky and sexy describe Sonny's style as in Mountain Stage, (2007) or
the classic blues song, "Key to the Highway", with Sonny's own interpretation.
What does his peers think of his talents? Here's Ana Popovich's opinion. He
plays with the slide on his little finger, and frets chords behind the slide. Landreth
normally plays in open E (E,B,E,G#,B, and E, low to high.)
Thanks to Robert Kidney, outstanding slide player for the blues band 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band)
from Kent, Ohio. Not only a great guitarist but good friend of Gibson & WristRock.
Elmore Brooks, aka Elmore James, (1918 – 1963), known as the "King of the
Slide Guitar", was born in Holmes County, MS as the illegitimate son of a 15 yr old
cotton field worker. At 12, he made his first music with a one-string 'diddley bow'
or 'jitterbug' strung up on his shack home wall. Influenced by Robert Johnson,
Kokomo Arnold and Tampa Red. "Dust My Broom" (1952) was his first hit while
playing as a sideman for Sonny Boy Williamson. The song's opening slide guitar
riff is one of the best-known sounds in all of blues.
Born February 1, 1951, in Canton, Mississippi, now based in Lafayette, LA, he is
constantly in demand as a session player. Sonny's unique blues slide style
involves a technique where he plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide.
Sonny plays with the slide on his little finger, so other fingers have room to fret
behind the slide. He also taps, slaps, picks strings and uses his whole right hand
as he shows in this "Guitarist" video.
Distinguished by his powerful playing style, his guitar was an electrically-modified, hollow
body traditional acoustic guitar. Jimi Hendrix was frequently quoted as being influenced by
EJ more than any other player. James died in 1963 of kidney failure from his lifelong love
Hear the influence on Les Zeppelin's vocalist, Robert Plant, in "Mean Mistreating Mama"
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Elmore James is, perhaps, the most covered blues artist of all time. "Sky is Cryin" has been
covered by everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughn to George Thorogood. One of the best is
this video of SRV, Albert and B.B. King. ,Some of the better covers of Elmore's other tunes
include "Madison Blues" by George Thorogood with Albert Collins, "It Hurts Me Too" by the
Grateful Dead with Duane Allman, "Shake Your Moneymaker" by Peter Green, (also well
done by the Black Crowes with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck with Eric Clapton, and the jam
version by Paul Butterfield in the 1978's Live Blues Tribute with Johnny Winter, Muddy
Waters, John Lee Hooker and Foghat),
In addition to the live collaborations, he has backed the recordings of Clarence
"Gatemouth" Brown, Clifton Chenier, Steve Conn, Michael Doucet, Jerry
Douglas, Dr. John, Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Loggins, John Mayall, Maria Muldaur,
Dolly Parton, Zachary Richard and Junior Wells just to name a few. Landreth has
recorded with Jimmy Buffett opened for his summer tours. He also performed at
Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004, 2007, and 2010. His rendition of
"Zydego Shuffle" at the 2010 show was something special for slide enthusiasts.)
Sonny's eleventh and newest album, Elemental Journey (2012), is his first all-instrumental LP. From the opening track,
“Gaia Tribe” where Sonny's great slide work is backed by Joe Satriani's scorching solo to the duet with Eric Johnson for
some inspired and toneful interplay on “Passionola,” this is a thoroughly captivating album. He adds some new rhythmic
elements to his sound by featuring Robert Greenidge on steel drums that infuse “Forgotten Story” and new interesting
melodic texture with orchestral backing by the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra from Lafayette, Louisiana.
“Whichever slide you decide on, you’ve got to have the right balance between the weight of the slide and the gauge of
the strings. I like heavier strings because they give you more tension to work with. The type of slide is important, too. I
started out using metal, which has a harder and brighter sound that many people prefer, but the first time I tried glass, I
was hooked. I instantly loved the smoothness of it and noticed a difference in the harmonics and the overall feel.”
--- Sonny Landreth in a recent Guitar Player Magazine interview
- “Sonny Landreth is the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of
the most advanced." --- Eric Clapton
Yes, They SaiD It...
With his penchant for A-list guitarists sitting in with him on his previous album, From the Reach, which included Eric
Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, Vince Gill and even the legendary New Orleans pianist, Dr. John, and iconic Gulf
Coast troubadour, Jimmy Buffett ,sat in on a few cuts, the next logical step would be to play with modern guitar virtuosos,
Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani. They contributed solos on his new album. Sonny discusses this new project in a recent
interview with Premier Guitar and takes the Terraplane Resonator for a test drive in this video. Sonny runs down the rest
of his gear rig in this PG interview with Shawn Hammond and some tips for aspiring slide guitarists on his tuning and
string choice in this instructional video with The Guitarist. For Sonny's tour date, expanded bio and photo gallery visit his
Sonny doesn't too many covers as he prefers to write and perform his own material. One outstanding exception,
however, is his cover of Hound Dog Taylor's "Taylor's Boogie". (Hound Dog's original follows Sonny's interpretation in
this 'audio only' link).
Note: If you're interested in learning more about how to play slide guitar in regular tuning, here is an interesting
article from November, 2012, from Ted Drozdowski of Gibson Guitars on how to do so.