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Guitar Shorty

When he's not turning somersaults, doing backward flips, and standing on his head -- all while playing, of course -- Guitar Shorty is prone to cutting loose with savagely slashing licks on his instrument. Live, he's simply amazing -- and after some lean years, his latter-day albums for Black Top, Evidence, and Alligator have proven that all that energy translates vividly onto tape.

Born David Kearney on September 8, 1939, in Houston, TX, he started playing guitar at an early age. His early influences included fellow blues guitar slingers B.B. King, Guitar Slim, T-Bone Walker, and Earl Hooker. By the time he was 17, Kearney was already gigging steadily in Tampa, FL. One night, he was perched on the bandstand when he learned that the mysterious "Guitar Shorty" advertised on the club's marquee was none other than him! His penchant for stage gymnastics was inspired by the flamboyant Guitar Slim, whose wild antics are legendary. In 1957, Shorty cut his debut single, "You Don't Treat Me Right," for Chicago's Cobra Records under Willie Dixon's astute direction. Three superb 45s in 1959 for tiny Pull Records in Los Angeles (notably "Hard Life") rounded out Shorty's discography for quite a while. During the '60s, he married Jimi Hendrix's stepsister and lived in Seattle, where the rock guitar god caught Shorty's act (and presumably learned a thing or two about inciting a throng) whenever he came off the road. Shorty's career had its share of ups and downs -- once he was reduced to competing on Chuck Barris' zany Gong Show, where he copped first prize for delivering "They Call Me Guitar Shorty" while balanced on his noggin.

Los Angeles had long since reclaimed Shorty by the time things started to blossom anew with the 1991 album My Way or the Highway for the British JSP logo (with guitarist Otis Grand in support). From there, Black Top signed Shorty; 1993's dazzling Topsy Turvy, 1995's Get Wise to Yourself, and 1998's Roll Over, Baby were the head-over-heels results. In 2001, the appropriately titled I Go Wild was released on the Evidence label, proving that Guitar Shorty had no intentions of slowing down, as he clearly remained a master showman and lively blues guitarist. Watch Your Back appeared in spring 2004. A single-disc overview of his career, The Best of Guitar Shorty, appeared from Shout! Factory in 2006, as well as a new studio album, We the People, from Alligator Records. A second Alligator release, Bare Knuckle, appeared early in 2010. ~ Bill Dahl & Al Campbell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

An unsung Guitar God.
Again H-Town is Blues too. 3m 14y
Love this guy , a great lesson in playing blues .
colligansb62
Saw him at the Back Stage in Ballard Wa in what must have been early 90's was awesome
RIGHT ON JIM-You can certainly see that he influenced Hendrix. Can't understand why he's not more well known. First time I've heard him---Awesom e !
Saw guitar Shorty at ricks on the square tyler tx. He put on a hell of a performance.
Great Great Blues Player
saw him a few years ago at a crawfish festival in new jersey what an awesome show
caught him in Winters Cal. wow, what a show, he tore it up
Dam can it get any better
What town man??? I want to see him?
I still and always will get out and see him every time he comes to town.
Man, this guy plays some deep Blues. Great tone & licks. Gotta go see this guy while I can.
Paradise Grill, Pensacola Beach, 2012. Shorty went totally psychedelic here. He has at least 30 foot pedal stomp boxes and uses them all. Amazing, can't wait for next time he comes to town.
Yes Guitar Shorty Married Hendrix's step sister, and when Hendrix and Shorty were not touring they spent many many hours together playing. Shorty taught Hendrix a lot of his guitar skills. I have gone to many of Shorty's concerts VIP style as I am a personal friend of his. Believe me when I say it, he puts on the BEST DAMN LIVE PERFORMANCE that I have ever seen. He has come to my table many times and ripped solos for 15+ minutes with his guitar.
fredthehead1 2
plays down here in south texas several times a year...he's awesome live
He rocks
Was he some sort of relative of Hendrix?
In the 70's, I worked in promotion for A&M Records, he was not the label but I found Guitar Shorty. I could not put it down and love his stuff today. You can hear it in Jimmy Hendrix Shorty’s influence !
amcobos
You can tell his style is so much like B.B. King's. They sound so much alike!
steve95984
Mind BLOWING blues man. F**king Awesome!!!!! !
lardo3057
Its funny that when I put in Ten Years After before, you said nothing found, yet after I got into the blues genre, TYA came up as a simulor artist. Love you guys, but sometimes I wonder. ROCK ON!!!!
first time i heard him i knew i had to have some for my collection
I Don't take the time 2 get down 2 da OL SOUL BLUES,theres absolutly no BETTER sound that I know of.LOVE IT!!!
bulldozer619
Hang me up by my toe-nails and beat me with a dead Carp , He's Good !
Bad a** old school truly one of the greats.....A n y o n e no of EAST COAST concert dates??? Would love 2 see this guy wow....
Have been getting hip to Shorty recently. What a talent!
How in the world did this guy not become more famous? WOW!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
wow! rock on shorty,never short on great pickin'.
homeloft
Now, THAT'S some serious pickin'!
Bring it ON!!!!
dougettheblu e s
Man he pulls notes out of no where. Very few slingers know where the notes are much less how to get them out. WOW!!!!!! A true master!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Guitar BIGGY!
One of the great guitar players.
Awesome blues guitar player. Why havn't I heard of him and he's how old? Wow.
tweener8292
This is the first time I've heard him. REALLY good! I like him.
Great Blues I Like it
I can see where Hendrix got a lot of his influence.
If you are lucky enough to go see him - don't miss it. At 71 he is amazing. Never seen anyone play guitar like this guy. Also great about photos, signing CDs, chatting, and hanging out with fans. So go see him and grab a hug!
kanefox130
Im liking this guy
You gotta see this man! he is a great showman!
tsmurf50
Guitar Shorty !!! Gotta love him! Enjoy eveyone.
This guy can pick it!
Black top? what on earth do you mean? Because to me he encompasses all!
fredthehead1 2
he did an awesome version of "born under a bad sign" the first time i saw him. before the song he said "somebody once told me i'd better always play this song like i mean it, because he'd be watching me, no matter where he was". shorty didn't say it was jimi that had said that to him, all he said was "some of you all know who i'm talking about" def gave me the chills, "bad sign" has been 1 my fav songs ever since

charlleyw
He's playing the Blue Bayou in Hillsboro (NC) on the 27th. I can't wait to hear him live!
Seen this guy 2 times, GREAT Performer and cool to talk too!
dems da blues
Blues? Rock and Roll!!
snappier
Guitar shorty has great sound. Coffee and cigarettes, you got to love it. Is shorty still w/ us?
joegrainger1
Smokin...
the s**t
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