Thursday, April 24, 2008
Roy Buchanan-a Sweet surprise 1987
Going in, I really didn't know who he was. My musical friend and co-conspirator in concerts then, Kelley Bass, knew more than I did. We dropped by the club mid-afternoon where Roy Buchanan was going to play that night. He was so soft-spoken, gentle and nice. I asked if he'd mind posing for a portrait and he was more than willing. He was patient and I tried to quickly set something up, light it with a couple old Vivitar 283 flash units. He smiled so openly and friendly.
That night I went back to shoot the show. The club, the SOB (shrimp-oyster-bar) was about 40 tables pushing up to the lip of the small stage. HE BLEW MY MIND! He out Jimi'd Hendrix, out Stevie'd MR Vaughan. I guess that was because I realized that he'd been doing it long before they picked up their instruments. He played lead on Dale Hawkin's (i'll add him in a later post) hit "My Babe" in 1957. Later he joined a Canadian singer Ronnie Hawkins eventually being replaced by Robbie Robertson in the group that went on to become The Band.
His guitar work stretched what people thought possible. Mostly playing a 1953 Telecaster, utilizing a technique I don't completely understand called Pinch Harmonics, a trebly sound emerged similar to a Fender Amp turned to 11. He counted John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Merle Haggard as fans and supposedly was offered a position with the Stones. PBS did a documentary on him titled The Best Unknown Guitarist In The World. I can't argue. I shot him touring behind his 12th album Hot Wires.
Even though he headlined Carnegie Hall a number of times, widespread fame eluded him. Sadly, he was arrested about a year after this show for public intoxication where he was found hung some hours later in his cell.