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"
Though much of Duane's bio is covered as #2 in our Top 10 Guitarists List, he deserves
Pickett's "
Hey Jude" and Clapton's "Layla". His personal investigations into the style of
Muddy Waters and Blind Willie McTell was most pronounced in the Allman Brothers live
performance of "
Whippin' Post". and "McTell's "Statesboro Blues".  He also has
performed or recorded with the likes of
King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, The Grateful Dead,
Eric Clapton, Boz Scaggs, and Herbie Mann.
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Some of Elmore's lesser known but equally cool recordings include: "Got to Move", Anna Lee" "Fine Little Mama",
"
Cry For Me, Baby", and "So Unkind" from the album Blues After Hours. Some personal favorites are from the "History
of Elmore James Collection, a compilation of lesser known cuts like "
The Sun Is Shining" and "Lost Woman Blues"
(That last one, see if you can figure who influenced Little Richard on both his vocals and piano stroke!)    
"I Believe" (1952) followed when he signed with the Bihari Brothers & Ike Turner
in 1959, with Bobby Robinson's Fire Records. Elmore started an amazing
streak of hits starting with a cover of Robert Johnson's: "
The Sky Is Crying",
followed by "
My Bleeding Heart", "Stranger Blues",  "Done Somebody Wrong",
"
Rollin' & Tumblin", "It Hurts Me Too" ... all of which have become blues
standards.
Look on Yonder Wall"  may be the most popular of these but record
labels have removed all of Elmore's versions from You Tube, so here's Freddy
King's version).
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),  
While his solo career has been rather low profile, he has quite an impressive
discography with
Blues Attack (1981), "Down In Louisiana" (1985), Outward Bound
(1992),
South Of I-10 (1995), Levee Town (2000), The Road We're On (2003)
and
Grant Street (2005) and From the Reach (2008). He also had a live album
Live At Jazz Fest 2007  and the compilations: Crazy Cajun Recordings (released
in 1999 but actually recorded in 1973) and
Prodigal Son: The Collection (released
in 2000 but recorded between 1973-1977).
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.)
Now 296 Video Links
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
Pg 1
1.
SONNY  LANDRETH
3.
DUANE  ALLMAN
2.
ELMORE  JAMES
  • Sonny Landreth is the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of
    the most advanced." --- Eric Clapton
Yes, They SaiD It...
Sonny has done some incredible stage collaborations such as "Milky Way Home" with Eric Johnson, "Hell at Home" with
Eric Clapton, "
One Way Out" with the Allman Brothers and John Popper, "Back To Bayou Teche" with Jools Holland,  
"
I'm Goin' Down" with Joe Satriani and Davy Knowles from Amsterdam, "On Your Way Down" with Warren Haynes' Gov't
Mule, "
Gravy Train" and "Cannibals" on 'Live in London' with Mark Knopfler. This memorable jam with John Hiatt on
"
Riding With the King" and "Farther Stars" with John Hiatt was something special as was this 50 minute show in Houston
with Eric Johnson and also again the next night with Eric in
San Antonio.  
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
official website.
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.