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Article

Bill C. Malone

revised by Barry Mazor

[Chester Burton ]

(b nr Luttrell, TN, June 20, 1924, d Nashville, TN, June 30, 2001). American country-music guitarist and recording company executive. Although the first instrument he played professionally was the fiddle, he became internationally famous as a guitarist. Developed while he was in high school, his guitar style was influenced by Merle Travis, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, and George Barnes and was characterized by the use of the thumb to establish a rhythm on the lower strings and multiple fingers to play melodic or improvisational passages on the higher strings, sometimes with complex voicings. In the early 1940s Atkins toured with Archie Campbell and Bill Carlisle playing both fiddle and guitar, and appeared with them on WNOX radio in Knoxville. He then toured with the second generation Carter Family as a sideman and in 1946 joined Red Foley. After beginning his association with the “Grand Ole Opry” he settled in Nashville in ...

Article

Timothy D. Taylor

[Charles Edward Anderson]

(b St Louis, 18 Oct 1926; d Wentzville, MO, 18 March 2017). American rock and roll singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Born into a solid working-class black family, he worked at a variety of jobs before pursuing a career in music. He achieved success rather late; his first number one hit, Maybellene, was recorded in 1955 when he was 29. During the 1950s and 60s he wrote a number of hit songs which have become rock and roll standards, including Roll over Beethoven, Too Much Monkey Business, Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, School Days, Back in the USA, Little Queenie, Memphis, Tennessee, and Johnny B. Goode. Berry’s songs were based on 12-bar blues progressions, with variations ranging from 8 to 24 bars, played at fast tempos with an emphasis on the backbeat. He had a high clear baritone and extremely clean diction and wrote literate, witty lyrics, many of them the best in early rock and roll. He was a consummate guitarist and his style has been as influential as his songwriting. He employed blues and rhythm and blues licks with bluegrass inflections, and adapted them to a pop-song format. Many of these were probably learned from his pianist and collaborator, Johnnie Johnson....

Article

Allison A. Alcorn

[slide guitar]

Style of playing either acoustic or electric guitar. The guitarist places a tube on one left-hand finger, usually the pinky, and presses this ‘slide’ onto the steel string to vary pitch. The slide is moved along the string without lifting, creating portamento from pitch to pitch. In this style, the guitar’s frets become nonfunctional, though some guitarists use their free fingers to fret as well. ‘Bottleneck’ refers to the neck of a glass bottle, originally used for the slides. Modern slides can be made of glass, glass on the outside and ceramic on the inside to prevent slipping, or non-shattering material such as brass or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. The material of the slide affects the timbre; for instance, heavier glass produces a richer, fuller tone, while the iron oxide in green glass creates a loud, sharp tone that is still warmer than cobalt oxide in blue glass. Metals, which generate a very bright tone, are used mostly with electric guitars. In bottleneck playing the guitar is held in the usual guitar position, whereas the lap slide guitar is played belly up, back flat on the player’s lap....

Article

Jason Mellard

[Jamieson ]

(b Cottonwood, AZ, June 12, 1952). American country guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Junior Brown is simultaneously one of country music’s most innovative instrumentalists and devoted traditionalists. Born in Arizona and raised in Indiana, Brown counts Ernest Tubb’s television show as his earliest influence, and his musical style reflects that debt. He began performing in roadhouse bands in New Mexico, California, and Texas during the 1960s and 70s before settling for a period at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music in Claremore, Oklahoma. There, Brown not only worked with steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe, but also instructed his longest musical collaborator, future wife Tanya Rae. In the 1980s, Brown moved to Austin, Texas, becoming involved in the scene with which he is most closely associated and playing in the bands Rank and File, Asleep at the Wheel, and Alvin Crow’s Pleasant Valley Boys. In 1985, Brown invented his signature instrument, the “guit-steel,” a double-necked guitar that combines the traditional six-string guitar with an eight-string lap-steel. Brown moves between the two in performance and recordings, in the process creating a balance between classic honky-tonk and rock stylistics perhaps best demonstrated in the Jimi-Hendrix-style phrases with which Brown concludes his version of Hank Garland’s “Sugarfoot Rag.” Brown’s first two records, ...

Article

Buzuq  

Scheherazade Qassim Hassan

Long-necked lute, probably of late Ottoman origin, introduced during the 20th century to urban Arab centres in Iraq, Syria, and the Lebanon. The soundbox resembles that of the classical ‘ūd. The neck has 24 movable frets, and the two or three strings are tuned in 4ths. Originally used by Kurds, Turkmen, and some Roma musicians, it is now used also by Arabs to accompany songs and for classical Arab ...

Article

Richard Johnston

Guitar, mandolin, and ukulele manufacturer. It was founded in Houston, Texas, in 1976 by Bill Collings (b 1948), who had moved from Ohio to Texas following a failed attempt at medical school. After building a few guitars and some banjos, Collings moved to Austin in 1979. His background as a machinist led him to emphasize precise jigs and fixtures even when he was working out of a small single-car garage. Demand for Collings guitars, specifically for updated versions of Martin and Gibson flat-top styles from the 1930s, prompted his move to a 1,000-square-foot shop in 1989. Two woodworkers were hired, including Bruce Van Wart, who is still in charge of wood selection and top voicing on the firm’s acoustic guitars. By this time, production had increased to a level that allowed sales to a few retailers.

In late 1991 the company relocated to a much larger facility on the outskirts of Austin, and the number of Collings guitar models, and employees, began to grow. Bill Collings was one of the first flat-top guitar builders to offer fully carved arch-top models as well. These deluxe jazz guitars were quickly accepted as the equals of those from premier American builders, and they sold for similar prices; but only a few were completed each year. Collings was also one of the first small, independent guitar companies to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) carving machines for building both guitar parts and the precise tooling to aid in their assembly, which is still done by hand. One of the signature differences between the Collings models and the Gibson and Martin originals that inspired them is that Collings uses an unglued bolted mortise and tenon neck joint, rather than a traditional dovetail....

Article

Ronnie Pugh

revised by Jason Mellard

[Theron Eugene ]

(b Beauregard Parish, LA, Sept 21, 1912; d Houston, TX, Oct 6, 1996). American country-music guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Raised in Houston and encouraged to pursue a musical career by the western swing pioneer Milton Brown, he played steel guitar with Leon Selph’s Blue Ridge Playboys (1934–5), a group that also included Floyd Tillman and Moon Mullican, and the Bar X Cowboys (1936–40). His song “Truck Driver’s Blues” (Decca, 1939), reputedly the first trucking song in country music, became a hit for Cliff Bruner’s Texas Wanderers. In 1940 Daffan formed his own band, the Texans, with whom he recorded several popular songs, including the classic “Born to Lose” (OK, 1943), and published several compositions under the pseudonym Frankie Brown. Amid changes in his band’s lineup, Daffan followed the western swing migration to California in the 1940s before returning to Texas after World War II. In this period Daffan worked with former bandmates Bruner, Mullican, and Tillman to create the style which became known as ...

Article

M. Rusty Jones

[Al Laurence Dimeola ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, July 22, 1954). American jazz fusion guitarist and composer. He is known especially for his technical virtuosity and for combining Latin, world, and jazz styles. His guitar influences include Larry Coryell, Tal(madge Holt) Farlow, and Kenny Burrell. He was also inspired by the tangos of Ástor Piazzolla, with whom he developed a close friendship. He enrolled in the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1971, where he remained until 1974 when he was invited to join the fusion group Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White. The group released three recordings with Di Meola, including the Grammy award-winning No Mystery (1975), before disbanding in 1976. The group reunited for a tour in 2008. Di Meola’s career as a leader began with the production of Land of the Midnight Sun (1976). Recordings on which he is recognized as leader now number over 20 albums. He has collaborated with luminaries such as Jaco Pastorius, Jan Hammer, and Chick Corea. One of his most successful collaborations was his trio with guitarists John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Their ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...

Article

Rich Kienzle

[Robert Lee ]

(b Spraggs, OK, Feb 5, 1908; d Houston, TX, May 27, 1971). American steel guitarist and composer. He pioneered the amplified steel guitar in country music. The son of a country fiddler, he gravitated to Hawaiian steel at age nine and studied the instrument via correspondence with guitarist Walter Kolomoku. Dunn, who also played trombone, was playing professionally by 1927. His love of jazz led him to create improvisational lines emulating the trombone (he admired Texas-born jazz trombone great Jack Teagarden) or the trumpet by blending aggressive technique with the rough, primitive tone of early electric amplification. In late 1934 he joined Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies in Fort Worth, Texas. He was showcased on various numbers, including his original instrumental “Taking off” (1935, Decca). After Brown’s death in 1936, Dunn performed and recorded with Texas groups led by pianist Roy Newman, ex-Brownies fiddler Cliff Bruner, Leon “Pappy” Selph, the Modern Mountaineers, and Bill Mounce. He also led his own band, the Vagabonds. After World War II Navy service, he resumed performing in Houston until he retired around ...

Image

Maker: Dominic Ibottson

In 

Electric bass guitar, Pro II model. (Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (4612))

Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (4612)

Article

Tony Bacon and Arian Sheets

[bass guitar]

Electric guitar, usually with four heavy strings tuned E′–A′–DG. Early forms of the electric bass guitar were brought to market by Vivi-Tone of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the early 1930s, Rickenbacker (or Ro-Pat-In) of Los Angeles in 1935, Audiovox of Seattle in 1936, Vega of Boston in 1939, and Regal of Chicago in 1939. Gibson also made several electric basses prior to World War II, but did not formally market them. Early electric basses employed a variety string types and pickups, but most had longer scales and were fretless, designed to be played in a manner similar to conventional acoustic upright basses. Audiovox, with its short-scale, fretted version, was a notable exception.

The modern full-scale fretted solid-body electric bass guitar was introduced by Leo Fender and was first marketed as the Fender Precision Bass in late 1951. The instrument was introduced to meet the needs of musicians playing the bass part in small dance bands in the USA: they wanted not only a more easily portable instrument than the double bass, but one that could match the volume of the increasingly popular solid-body electric guitar, and could be played with greater precision than their large, fretless, acoustic instruments. Fender’s electric bass guitar answered all these requirements. It was based on his already successful Broadcaster (later named Telecaster) six-string electric guitar, with a similar solid body of ash and neck of maple. The four strings were tuned to the same notes as the double bass (an octave below the bottom four of the six-string electric guitar), and a single pickup fed controls for volume and tone; the fretted fingerboard offered players the precision they wanted....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....

Article

Mary Talusan

(b Philippines, June 20, 1967). Keyboardist and guitarist of Filipino birth. He immigrated to the United States and grew up in California. He studied piano from early childhood and became proficient on several instruments, including keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. In 1988, he joined the industrial band Mortal Wish, which changed their name to Mortal in 1992 when they were signed. Before the band broke up in 1996, Fontamillas released seven albums with them. He then formed the industrial rock band Fold Zandura with friend Jyro Xhan. After their breakup in 1999, he joined the alternative rock band Switchfoot as a keyboard player. By 2000, Fontamillas began to tour with Switchfoot shortly before the release of their third CD Learning to Breathe, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. In 2002, he reunited with Mortal and released the album Nu-En-Jin featuring Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman as guest vocalist. Fontamillas became an official member of Switchfoot in ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Anse des Rougeau, near Basile, LA, Oct 16, 1918; d near Welsh, LA, July 29, 1995). American fiddler, vocalist, and songwriter. The son of renowned but unrecorded Creole accordionist Adam Fontenot, he picked up the fiddle to play with his father and his cousin Amédé Ardoin, another Creole accordionist. His Creole style influenced just about all contemporary Creole fiddlers, such as Ed Poulard and Cedric Watson, as well as many Cajun fiddlers, including Dewey Balfa and Michael Doucet. He eventually joined Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin as the core of first the Duralde Ramblers and later the Ardoin Family Band. In 1964, they were recorded by Ralph Rinzler, who was doing fieldwork for the Newport Folk Festival. They performed at Newport in 1966 and recorded their first album, Les blues du bayou, on the way home. With the Ardoin Family Band, Fontenot took his pre-zydeco Creole music to many parts of the country, becoming a fixture on the folk festival circuit. Fontenot was a virtuoso musician and a gifted composer, with influences ranging from early Creole styles to jazz, swing, country, and blues. He and Ardoin were awarded National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships in ...

Article

John-Carlos Perea

[Thomas Edison ]

(b Gum Springs, Oklahoma Territory, Jan 9, 1904; d Aug 27, 1996). Native American (Comanche) and European American singer, guitarist. Early experiences with music came while participating in cattle drives led by his uncle and later through performances at house parties and other public venues. Over the course of his life Ford worked in a diverse number of trades in addition to music, including cowboy, rodeo rider, Wild West and medicine show performer, and artisan. As a musician he went on to perform throughout the southeastern United States in venues ranging from clubs and rodeos to, later in life, the Louisiana Arts and Folk Festival in 1980, the Library of Congress’ “The American Cowboy” exhibit in 1983, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1985 and 1986. In recognition of his “extensive repertoire of cowboy songs, frontier ballads, sentimental parlor ditties … and early country and western tunes,” Ford received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in ...

Article

Anthony S. Lis

[William] (Orville)

(b Corsicana, TX, March 31, 1928; d Nashville, TN, July 19, 1975). American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A fan of Jimmie Rodgers from childhood, he played honky tonks in Waco and Dallas by age 16. In 1945, Frizzell married; while serving a jail-sentence in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, he wrote a number of songs dedicated to his wife, including “I love you a thousand ways.” In April 1950 Frizzell recorded a demo of his song “If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time” at the studio of Dallas promoter Jim Beck; his voice caught the attention of producer Don Law, who signed him to Columbia. In fall 1950 Columbia released “If you’ve got the money I’ve got the time” backed with “I love you a thousand ways;” both sides reached number one on Billboard’s country singles charts. At one point in the early 1950s, Frizzell placed four songs in the top ten of ...

Article

Paul Oliver

[Allen, Fulton ]

(b Wadesboro, NC, July 10, 1907; d Durham, NC, Feb 13, 1941). American blues singer and guitarist. He began to lose his sight as a teenager and was completely blind by 1928. He was the outstanding exponent, though not an innovator, of the eastern or Piedmont style of blues. Influenced by Blind Blake, Blind Gary Davis, and Buddy Moss, he formulated an eclectic style, playing fast runs and swinging rag rhythms on guitar (often against cross-rhythms on a washboard) to accompany his gritty singing. Davis played for him on the traditional “Rag Mama Rag” (1935, Voc.), one of his earliest successes. Fuller adapted old songs such as the British ballad “Our Goodman,” which became “Cat Man Blues” (1936, Voc.). Although he was probably at his best with fast ragtime themes like “Step it up and go” (1940, Voc.), he was also a master of slow blues such as “Weeping Willow” (...

Article

Rich Kienzle

[Walter Louis ]

(b Cowpens, SC, Nov 11, 1930; d Orange Park, FL, Dec 27, 2004). American guitarist and studio musician. One of Nashville’s earliest notable session guitarists, he played a pivotal role in the early days of the city’s recording scene. He began playing guitar as a boy and in 1945 performed as a guest with Paul Howard’s western swing band, the Arkansas Cotton Pickers, on the Grand Ole Opry. He joined the band a year later, then worked with singers Cowboy Copas and Eddy Arnold. Nashville guitarists Billy Byrd and Harold Bradley introduced him to jazz, and Garland plunged headfirst into it as he earned acclaim for his featured playing on Red Foley’s country hit “Sugarfoot Rag” (Decca, 1950), for which he garnered the nickname “Sugarfoot.” He recorded solo vocal and instrumental country material for Decca and, later, instrumentals for Dot Records. In 1955 Garland and Byrd developed a hollow-body electric guitar for Gibson that became the famous Byrdland model. Garland’s versatility as a guitarist allowed him to enhance recordings by singers ranging from Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee to the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, and Georgia Gibbs. When not in the studios in the 1950s, he and other Nashville studio players often played jazz in after-hours Nashville clubs. In ...

Article

David B. Pruett

(b Norman, OK, April 12, 1957). American country music recording artist. Having become proficient on banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, and guitar while growing up, Gill performed in a variety of bluegrass bands in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and California. He eventually migrated towards country rock in 1979 with the band Pure Prairie League, with whom he experienced marginal success. In 1980 Gill became a member of Rodney Crowell’s backup band, the Cherry Bombs; the group also included the keyboard player Tony Brown, who as a record producer subsequently signed Gill to RCA in 1983 and MCA in 1989. Through Crowell, Gill met Emmylou Harris, in whose well known Hot Band Crowell had performed (1975–7) and with whom Gill later recorded and toured (1987). Gill released three studio albums for RCA—Turn me Loose (RCA, 1984), The Things that Matter (RCA, 1985), and The Way Back Home...