A Blog to Keep the Lizards Away. It's about posting and sharing the things I'm into. Hope you enjoy the show!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Master of the Telecaster

Albert Collins "The Iceman"
Master Blaster of the Fender Telecaster

There have been a lot of truly great guitar players since acoustic went electric in the 50's and innovators like John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry started developing the blues chords that went on to shape rock and roll.

Actually it was in 1931, when jazz musicians first stated to experiment with amplifying their acoustic guitars. But is was not till the early 1940's that Les Paul working in the Epiphone factory first introduced a solid body fully electric guitar. He took this design to the Gibson factory and in the late 1940's started to market the first Les Paul Gibson electric. In 1950 Leo Fender went to the next level with a commercially successful solid body electric called the Broadcaster, which developed into the Telecaster and then the Stratocaster.

At the same time in Austin, Texas, Blind Melon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker were inventing their own version of the blues, a sound that influenced an emerging guitarist, Albert Collins.

Albert Collins was born in Leona Texas in 1932. After spending his early years playing the clubs and backing some of the best players of the era, he became one of the earliest exponents of Texas Blues. A subgenre that introduces swing and jazz improvisations to the traditional blues sound and relies on more solos or "licks" as bridges in the composition of songs. Albert Collins introduced "blister" to these licks and it was this element that attracted the great rock guitarists that followed him.

In the Sixties he followed the Hippies into San Francisco and played sessions in the Avalon Ballroom, Fillmore and the Winterland. Later he lined up with Canned Heat and the Allman Brothers.

Collins influenced talents like Jimi Hendrix, Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan and collaborated with all the great contemporaries including BB King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards to name a few.

He was always there but really hit his straps with the big blues revival in the 1980's. Albert Collins' favourite guitar was a Maple Cap 1966 Custom Fender Telecaster.

He first really got my attention when I saw him play Live Aid at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, with George Thorogood's Destroyers and Bo Diddley in 1985. He played "The Sky is Crying" and "Madison Blues" bringing the house down. I went straight into the local Virgin Megastore and brought every Albert Collins CD they had!

Albert Collins died in 1993 at the age of 61 from lung cancer and  is buried at Davis Memorial Park in Las Vegas.

If you are interested in hearing more I can recommend one of his later albums, Albert Collins "The Deluxe Edition" a compile of Albert at his best.

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