If it’s true that an artist suffers for his music, then some guitar players suffer more than others.
We can never know exactly what demons torment some of our favorite players, or why some choose to leave before their time, but Danny Gatton was a truly talented guitar player who never understood the level of his skill or the breadth of his talent. Here, author Ralph Heibutzki traces Gatton’s life and places his work in context of the times, drawing from interviews with friends, family members, and musical peers.
This is an excellent book, even as it tells a tragic story. Fortunately, Gatton left a number of recordings that capture his personal talent, and also some amazing video footage which documents his unquestioned skill on guitar. Who could forget his “Austin City Limits” appearance, where he blazes up and down the neck of his Fender Telecaster, then casually opens a beer and uses it for a slide, disregarding the foam and mess. What to do? Why, clean it up, naturally. Gatton grabs a towel to “clean” the fretboard and proceeds to make everyone’s jaw drop as he cleanly frets notes on top of the towel (he can’t even see the fingerboard) then uses it as a sort of glove to finish out the tune. Simply amazing!
This book is fully indexed and includes a bibliography, discography, lists of awards, and more.
Backbeat Books 2003, Softbound 290 pages, ISBN 0-87930-748-X, $17.95
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.