Been waiting to write this post all year. September 4th was the birthday of the late Danny Gatton – the best guitarist the world never heard of and one of the best guitarists of all time, period. Nicknamed “The Humbler”, Gatton combined dazzling technique with his own creative fusion of rockabilly, blues, jazz, country and a bit of everything else.
He grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and spent much of his life playing close to home. His aversion to touring may have been a major factor in his lack of commercial success, but he was a musician’s musician. Legend and innovator Les Paul said of Gatton, “He could do anything the other guy could do … and do it better”.
“Funhouse” from his 1993 album “Cruisin’ Deuces” shows Gatton’s massive technique delivering tasty solos that don’t easily fit into any genre.
Gatton’s closest brush with mainstream fame may have been his Grammy nomination for the track “Elmira Street Boogie” which showed off his bluesy, rockabilly side.
For those who got to see Danny play live, a favorite stage trick was his slide work with a beer bottle. His solo starts around 4:20 in this video, and don’t worry about the beer dripping from the fretboard of his Fender Telecaster – at around 5:30 he cleans it up!
Anacostia Delta: The Legacy of DC’s TeleMasters – Music New to You from the Past and Present