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Roy Buchanan

Roy Buchanan has long been considered one of the finest, yet criminally overlooked guitarists of the blues rock genre whose lyrical leads and use of harmonics would later influence such guitar greats as Jeff Beck, his one-time student Robbie Robertson, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. Although born in Ozark, AR, on September 23, 1939, Buchanan grew up in the small town of Pixley, CA. His father was both a farmer and Pentecostal preacher, which would bring the youngster his first exposure to gospel music when his family would attend racially mixed revival meetings. But it was when Buchanan came across late-night R&B radio shows that he became smitten by the blues, leading to Buchanan picking up the guitar at the age of seven. First learning steel guitar, he switched to electric guitar by the age of 13, finding the instrument that would one day become his trademark: a Fender Telecaster. By 15, Buchanan knew he wanted to concentrate on music full-time and relocated to Los Angeles, which contained a thriving blues/R&B scene at the time. Shortly after his arrival in L.A., Buchanan was taken under the wing by multi-talented bluesman Johnny Otis, before studying blues with such players as Jimmy Nolen (later with James Brown), Pete Lewis, and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. During the mid- to late '50s, Buchanan led his own rock band, the Heartbeats, which soon after began backing rockabilly great Dale ("Suzy Q") Hawkins.

By the dawn of the '60s, Buchanan had relocated once more, this time to Canada, where he signed on with rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. The bass player of Ronnie Hawkins' backing band, the Hawks, studied guitar with Buchanan during his tenure with the band. Upon Buchanan's exit, the bassist-turned-guitarist would become the leader of the group, which would eventually become popular roots rockers the Band: Robbie Robertson. Buchanan spent the '60s as a sideman with obscure acts, as well as working as a session guitarist for such varied artists as pop idol Freddy Cannon, country artist Merle Kilgore, and drummer Bobby Gregg, among others, before Buchanan settled down in the Washington, D.C., area in the mid- to late '60s and founded his own outfit, the Snakestretchers. Despite not having appeared on any recordings of his own, word of Buchanan's exceptional playing skills began to spread among musicians as he received accolades from the likes of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Merle Haggard, as well as supposedly being invited to join the Rolling Stones at one point (which he turned down).

The praise eventually led to an hour-long public television documentary on Buchanan in 1971, the appropriately titled The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World, and a recording contract with Polydor Records shortly thereafter. Buchanan spent the remainder of the decade issuing solo albums, including such guitar classics as his 1972 self-titled debut (which contained one of Buchanan's best-known tracks, "The Messiah Will Come Again"), 1974's That's What I Am Here For, and 1975's Live Stock, before switching to Atlantic for several releases. But by the '80s, Buchanan had grown disillusioned by the music business due to the record company's attempts to mold the guitarist into a more mainstream artist, which led to a four-year exile from music between 1981 and 1985.

Luckily, the blues label Alligator convinced Buchanan to begin recording again by the middle of the decade, issuing such solid and critically acclaimed releases as 1985's When a Guitar Plays the Blues, 1986's Dancing on the Edge, and 1987's Hot Wires. But just as his career seemed to be on the upswing once more, tragedy struck on August 14, 1988, when Buchanan was picked up by police in Fairfax, VA, for public intoxication. Shortly after being arrested and placed in a holding cell, a policeman performed a routine check on Buchanan and was shocked to discover that he had hung himself in his cell. Buchanan's stature as one of blues-rock's all-time great guitarists grew even greater after his tragic death, resulting in such posthumous collections as Sweet Dreams: The Anthology, Guitar on Fire: The Atlantic Sessions, Deluxe Edition, and 20th Century Masters and the live When a Telecaster Plays the Blues, which appeared in 2009. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Too bad he never did take the chance to play with the Stones
nicko252008
Holy Crap, this guy is a rock god...
Man have I been in the dark about this guy omg goose bumps
That's Roy playing guitar, but that is definitely Delbert McClintock doing the vocals.
lorinoblee
He is absolutely GREAT!
"I'm A Ram" 1-Fire~ Born-ll-Lead
H-Town~Rocki n ' ~ W e - A i n ' t - S t o p i n ' - T h a - M u s i c
LOVE+S Disciple*978 * 1 * ~ 8 m 1 4 y ~
My dear friend. Kind hearted and alone. We had great times in N.O.La RIP. Tips/rich
yup
awesome
Discovered Buchanan today...my loss over previous years. So sorry to hear of his tragic death...
mattberes1
Sounds like Procol Harem
good enough to play with the stones thank you
Aragon ballroom chicago mid 80s roy johnny winter and Lonnie brooks what a great show ill never forget it !!!
Check out the song, Ramon's Blues where he and Steve Cropper trade solos; it can't get loud enough.
michaelhaydn m v
The album by Roy Buchanan that I bought in '77 or so I bought out of curiosity. I was very impressed with his playing. I don't have the album anymore.
This cat is just as good as any of the great guitarists, including Carlos Santana.
Saw him at the Kennedy center Wow I waited all show for him to play Hey joe, and i tell you he did not disappoint just freaking amazing WOW
Sure wish he was still here!
Roy's the man
Real blues at last. God bless you,PANDORA . You rock!!
I do believe that the policeman was braggin' that he was hung himself. I wish I carried a big stick too but then I wouldn't know what to do.
badd a**
Some people just hate the Police and blame them even though their ain't no evidence. If they did do it some god will get em.
..love that Hammond B3 music....... . . . . . .
Police: Bad. Roy: Good.
Hung himself ? I strongly doubt that. As sure as there is Goose Grease, never, ever trust the police! Especially when its story time. When its story time its youre story and you can tell it how ever you want. This is Roys story and he cant tell it. Other than the great music that is left behind, its FN. over and that SUCKS!!!!!! WAY to Final ............ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I have a strong collection of his work and that I will protect and serve.
He didn't kill himself. The police beat him to death. There were eye witnesses and his widow tried to sue the police department but wasn't allowed too. They lied and said he killed himself, prevented an autopsy from being performed and wouldn't file a report on behalf of his widow.
?
I always though his hitch of a wife called the cops because he was drunk outside his home in Reston Va. MY BEST FRIEND PLAYED with Roy back in the eafly to mid 70s. His name was Ken. GOSSLIN. THERE was another guy named. T-BONE WHO PLAYED THEM.ROY LOVED ANY THING IN PILL FORM. DOWNERS RIP
I use. To see him in a dive called the Crossroads Inn in Cheverly Md. Pllaying with an Elvis wants be named Danny Denver.This was in the early 70s never saw any better.Also a hell of a nice guy.
Haha this song plays everyday on this radio station in New Mexico. Just amazing.
My first guitar hero, saw him over 20 times, he could play the most intricate progression and look bored doing it. Saw him at a roadhouse in S.C. about a week before his death, we were doing tequila shots in the parking lot during a break, security came over told us if we were going to drink to get in the car lol. Wish everyone had gotten to see him.
Had the pleasure of seeing him in a tiny club that probably held about 50 people in 1982. I was one of the lucky 50. He's one of the best guitarists no one's heard of. He can make the guitar talk and cry!
kvons1
GREAT guitarist!
mack714
Meet the man through a freind and hung a the bar between jams at The Bottom Line. I was pretty young but could see the man was a troubled soul, None the less he scourched the place leanin on a beam.I knew that night I had flamed some blackberry brandys with one of the best guit players ever! To this day I continue to jam his music for those who were in the dark about Roy. God bless the too quick to depart RB@===
denverpianis t
played f*rt with him for about a century. enough gas to blow him up. if only i could
the crap
tonalities5
Played bass with him for about 2 years, early 80s. He sure could play the guitar! RIP, man.
R.I.P. King.
kvons1
Superb guitarist!
Saw Roy in Toronto 74. Amazing guitarist and performer. Oh so lucky brother.
brklayer1
Got turned on to Roy by a friend in NYC in 81 while in school there. Then had the oportunity to see him in the late mid 80s at an all day outdoor Blues festival in Norton, Mass.. Stevie Ray Vaughn was head lining the show. Anyway, a couple of younger lads came into the show a couple hours late and settled into their seats. The kid sitting next to me asked if and when SRV was coming on. Roy was the next act up, so I told him to relax and sit back and watch the next Guy. Roy was awesome, but
Criminally unrecognized Roy was a guitar player's guitar player. There in the early days of R&R he was a founding-fat h e r and a huge innovator. There was a great PBS special that profiled him in the early-70's - a must-see for any fans. Great to see him here on Pandora. Those of you that got to see him - even for 45min, should consider yourselves blessed and oh-so lucky.
starts my day on a sad note the good die young
I saw him at Carnegie Hall in 1972 and 1986. A reticent man, but one hell of a guitarist!
I DID NOT KNOW THIS! I AM IN TEARS IN 2012. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW BAD POLICE CAN BE UNTIL YOU CONFRONT THE LAPD...HORRI B L E . . . .
danbillingto n 5 2
Saw Roy in concert in NY in mid 70s. He played a great set, including 'Hey Joe. But, he left the stage after 45 minutes, and despite thunderous applause to do an encore, he never showed up back onstage. The audience was very disappointed , and I was pissed off at him.
droboogie444
The guitar man
Roy always had a can of Bud
also the runaways and rick derringer
I heard this man play at the tomorrow club in mid seventys youngstown Ohio
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