10 Most Influential Texas Blues Guitarists
Nothing says "I'm hurtin'" like the wail of a mournful guitar. It's a sound that melts the heart and pierces the soul. While the blues saw a resurgence in the '80s and '90s, it's fallen off the mainstream radar as of late. "In the summer of '96, our royalty checks went from about $70 to over $4,000," Smokin' Joe Kubek remarked in a recent interview with the Observer. "One day I woke up and it was different." So we've complied a list of the 10 most influential Texas blues guitar slingers.
Albert Collins, The Master of the Telecaster
A distant relative of Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins' destiny intertwined with the strings of a Fender Telecaster. He grew up listening to the blues sounds of Texas, Mississippi and Chicago, and often used his thumb and forefinger instead of pick to make his guitar sing. He influenced such players as Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayer and Frank Zappa. His weapon of choice was a maple cap 1966 Custom Fender Telecaster with a Gibson PAF humbucker running through a RMS silver-faced 1970s Fender Quad Reverb.
T-Bone Walker, the Oak Cliff T-Bone
Aaron "T-Bone" Walker was a pioneer of jump blues (up-tempo blues) and electric blues. He learned his craft playing with street-strolling string bands in Dallas, and later perfected it when he left school at 10 years old eventually to become Blind Lemon Jefferson's protégé. His style of playing included using his teeth, a technique Jimi Hendrix would later perfect with the help of Jack Daniels. Walker influenced everyone from Steve Miller to Stevie Ray Vaughan. His weapon of choice was a Gibson ES-250 plugged into a Fender tweed 4x10 Bassman.
Lightnin' Hopkins, The Texas Storm
Texas country bluesman Sam Hopkins' mournful Lone Star sound still haunts the back roads of East Texas. He could make a guitar cry and ladies swoon with his electrified boogie riffs. Although his style was once considered too rustic, too old fashioned, his fingers slid down the neck as if he were a painter creating a masterpiece. The New York Times once said he was "perhaps the greatest single influence on rock guitar players." Not bad for a man who built his fist guitar by cutting a hole in a cigar box, nailing a piece of plank and stringing it with screen wire. His weapon of choice was a 1920s Galiano, although he employed a variety of acoustics.
Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Father of Texas Blues
"Blind" Lemon Jefferson spent a majority of his life playing in Dallas clubs with fellow blues musician Lead Belly. Jefferson became a prominent figure in the blues movement that developed in Deep Ellum in early 1900s, and was the master of the pentatonic scale, often applying only the first, altered third, fifth, altered seventh and octave. His fast style influenced Lead Belly, Lightnin' Hopkins and B.B. King, and let's not forget his mentorship of T-Bone Walker. His weapon of choice is still a mystery, although rumors point to a Stella.