T-Bone Walker – Blues Guitar God

T-Bone Walker – Blues Guitar God

Talking about the “T-Bone Shuffle” in the last post about using guide tones in your blues licks got me to thinking about T-Bone Walker. Before Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert King, even B.B King, there was T-Bone Walker.

T-Bone Walker was born Aaron Thibeaux Walker on May 28, 1910  in Linden, Texas. His family moved to Dallas when he was 2 years old.

T-Bone was possibly the first blues guitarist to pick up the electric guitar. He got started as a very young man with the help of another blues legend, Blind Lemon Jefferson. He helped Blind Lemon Jefferson get around, and he collected his tips on the street corners for him, while learning to play the blues guitar.

He later moved on to L.A. where he played with some smaller groups, and finally in 1942 he began recording for Capital Records. Soon after that he moved onto Chicago for a few years, before going back to L.A. and recording for Black & White Records. That was where he recording the classic blues tunes “T-Bone Shuffle” and “Call It Stormy Monday,” which have both been covered countless times.  If You’ve been playing the blues for any length of time you surely have played these tunes. They are standards at blues jam sessions everywhere.

Take a look at this video of T-Bone, playing “Stormy Monday.”

I’m from Cleveland, and I think the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum is kinda dumb. When I was there I got pretty bored pretty quickly with hand written lyrics and old rock stars clothes. But when I saw T-Bone Walker’s guitar I must admit my heart rate picked up a bit. I mean that was the guitar!

Here he is trading licks with B.B. King:

The truth is all of us are standing on T-Bone Walker’s shoulders. If you don’t who he is and you play the blues, I guarantee that the people who influenced you were influenced by him. T-Bone’s influence on the blues guitar cannot be overstated! If you play the blues you need to know about him. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Get T-Bone Walker’s Complete Capital Recordings. An awesome deal on a great collection!

You can also check out T-Bone Walkers Imperial Recordings.

I urge you to get a hold of some of those tracks and listen, and then listen again. Cop some of those licks. Chances are that you already play some of them anyway. It’s good to know where those tasty blues licks came from, isn’t it?

About the Author

Marc GreenwaldI've been playing guitar for over 35 years, everything from Punk Rock to Jazz, but I love the blues. Due to my firm belief that a musician who can't play the blues is no musician at all, I built this website to help other people find their voice as a blues guitarist.View all posts by Marc Greenwald →

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"Of course there are a lot of ways you can treat the blues, but it will still be the blues." - Count Basie

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