In addition to his use of high harmonics and extreme stretching, Roy Buchanan's style of playing was also influenced by the choice of his electric guitar, a 1953 Fender Telecaster, which he called'Nancy'. "I tried the Tele first, then a Strat," Buchanan said. "And I tried a Gibson, but then I went back to the Telecaster."
Buchanan was born on September 23, 1939 in Ozark, Arkansas, and grew up temporarily in Pixley, California. Gospel, country and blues all played a role in his musical development. "I really started playing the guitar when I was about nine years old," Buchanan recalled. "I had my own group when I was, like, 10 or 11. "I had a little country band called The Dusty Valley Boys." Then a new sound came up. "I started to bend the strings in rock'n' roll when I was about 15. I was in L.A., and this group called The Johnny Otis Show had a guitarist named Jimmy Nolen. I thought they were playing rock'n' roll. He bent the strings in rock'n' roll, so I thought I'd do the same! "I formed a band called The Heartbeats, and we kind of started something else." Buchanan rarely stayed in the same place for long.
"We had a TV show in Oklahoma City where we played every Saturday. It was like a copy of American Bandstand. They always had all these guest stars there," Buchanan said, "and once it was Dale Hawkins. He said, "Do you want to come to Louisiana?" Roy impressed on Hawkins' Rockabilly cover version of Little Walter's My Babe for Checker as early as 1958 and quickly developed his high-sounding sound further. "Scotty Moore was engaged for the session," he said. "But he had to cancel, so I played. I loved Scotty Moore and tried to sound like him without sounding too Scotty Moore. I left Hawkins for a while and was in L.A. James Burton called me and said that Bob Luman was performing in Las Vegas and needed a guitarist. He asked me if I was interested, and I said, "Sure!" So I went over there and played for the job and got it. I stayed with him for about a year and a half. "We played in Vegas for about a year, then we went to Japan." Then Roy joined Dale's cousin Ronnie Hawkins' band. "We were in Toronto, performing at the Coq D'Or. Ronnie came in one night and asked me if I wanted to play in his band," he said. "He named his group The Hawks. So I went to them for a while."
Buchanan recorded the wild instrumental title Mule Train Stomp for Swan in Philadelphia under his own name in 1961 and was on the Cotton label the following year on the hit The Jam - Part 1 by drummer Bobby Gregg and his Friends. "I had made a few demos in Philadelphia and he heard them," Buchanan said. I agreed. We did it and it was a hit." But they didn't get that famous and Buchanan sank into the club scene of Washington, D.C. He remained a purely regional attraction until his career finally got underway in 1970.
"I was playing in a little club called The Crossroads. A guy from the Washington Post came in and wrote an article about me," he said. "Afterwards, people ran into us. And then it appeared in other papers, too, everything went totally crazy. Then people from the television station NET came along, they had orchestra people with them who were supposed to hear me. Suddenly they wanted to put my life story on TV. So I agreed. From then on, everything blossomed somehow. Then we got a record deal." Buchanan simplified the process a bit: Polydor had already taken it in 1969, but the LP'The Prophet', which he made with producer Charlie Daniels, was not released. When Polydor then released his next attempt as Roy Buchanan's first album of the same name, the whole world suddenly became aware of his Telecaster magic. For his 1973'Second Album' for Polydor, he recorded a creative version of Erskine Hawkins' influential worn 1946 instrumental hit After Hours, on which he presented the full range of his amazing fingerboard art; Roy had already recorded the title for Bomarc in 1961.
Buchanan released a series of successful LPs on Polydor and Atlantic in the 1970s, but sales declined in the first half of the next decade before making a comeback with three alligator LPs in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, his story doesn't have a happy ending. When Buchanan was arrested for public drunkenness in Fairfax, Virginia, on August 14, 1988, he hanged himself in a drunk tank.
- Bill Dahl -
Various - Electric Blues
Plug It In! Turn It Up! Vol.4 Electric Blues 1970 - 2005 (Deutsch)