In the music business there are many factors that define the razor edge between the "'Legends' and the Lost". The right sound, at the right time, in the right place are foremost on the list, but are not the only factors that will determine the placement of any musician in the history books. The pages are also subject to edit by record companies and producers, the fickle nature of fans, the general acceptance and understanding of your work by other musicians, and, of course, "Luck".
The Musicians in "Through The Cracks" are those who, whether by chance or choice, never received their just due for the contributions they have made to the progression of music. The nature of this section, being on the obscurities of the music world, guarantees difficulty in obtaining adequate and accurate info, so feel free to add, correct, or debate the contents herein. Submission/comment
Danny Gatton - Danny Gatton's story is not one of hit records, world tours, or fame and fortune, and his name is more known to musicians than the public or music industry at large. Danny had the amazing ability to meld jazz, country, blues rockabilly, and rock into a style all his own. His mastery of the guitar earned him the nickname "The Humbler" from fellow guitarists. Much of his recognition came very late in his career and most of that only after his untimely death. Gatton was born in Washington, D.C. on September 4, 1945. His father, Daniel W. Gatton Sr., was a rhythm guitarist who left his musical career to raise his family in a more stable profession. Danny grew up to share his father's passion for the instrument and started playing at age nine, joining his first band at 12, and in 1959 at age 14 joined "The Offbeats" a Washington, DC band that would become his main group. The band broke up in 1967, but Gatton continued to play with the individual members on and off until they reunited in 1980 as the American Music Company.
He began to attract wider interest in the 1970s while playing guitar and banjo for the group Liz Meyer & Friends, and cemented his name as a performer in the Washington, DC, area during the 1980s, both as a solo performer and with his Redneck Jazz Explosion, in which he would trade licks with virtuoso pedal steel player Buddy Emmons over a tight bass-drums rhythm which drew from blues, country, bebop and rockabilly influences. He also backed Robert Gordon and Roger Miller. He contributed a cover of "Apricot Brandy", a song by Elektra Records-supergroup Rhinoceros, to the 1990 compilation album Rubáiyát.
Danny went to Nashville for a brief period during the late '60s before returning to Washington, DC, where he spent much of the '70s playing with bands including Danny & the Fat Boys, and Redneck Jazz Explosion. After appearing on Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen's album "Flying Dreams" in '78, Danny played about a year and a half for country singer/songwriter Roger Miller. Still heavily involved in the Washington, DC, music scene, he left Miller to join forces with rockabilly artist Robert Gordon, which lasted for approximately 2 years, and after a short break formed a band called the Drapes. It was during this time that Gatton began to draw some serious attention as the premier guitarist in the DC, and recorded his first solo album, "Unfinished Business", released in 1987 on his mother's NRG label, that also released The Redneck Jazz Explosion's albums. The amazing mix of musical styles on Unfinished Business attracted the attention of Elektra, who offered him a contract. It was also around this time, in 1989, that Guitar Player magazine named Gatton "World's Greatest Unknown Guitar Player." A photo published in the October 2007 issue of Guitar Player magazine shows Gatton playing in front of a neon sign that says "Victims Wanted" owing to his ability to "humble" or out-play anyone willing to go up against him in "head cutting" jam sessions, hence the nickname "The Humbler"
His skills were most appreciated by his peers such as Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson and Les Paul. During his career, Gatton appeared on stage with guitar heroes such as Alvin Lee and Jimmie Vaughan, the latter literally walking in one night on a Gatton club gig. There is also a rumor about an onstage "head-cutting" jam between Gatton and fellow Telecaster player Roy Buchanan. In 1993, Gatton was invited by rocker Chris Isaak to record tracks for Isaak's San Francisco Days CD. Reports of where Gatton's playing can be heard on the CD vary, with unconfirmed reports placing him on either "Can't Do A Thing (To Stop Me)", "5:15" or "Beautiful Houses". Also among his admirers are , James Burton, Lenny Breau, Vince Gill, Evan Johns, Chris Cheney, Bill Kirchen, Albert Lee, Steve Vai, Arlen Roth, Ricky Skaggs, Slash , and Richie Sambora, Danny was truly the definitive "Musicians Musician".
He recorded the instrumental album "88 Elmira St", released in 1991 to critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination but disappointing sales; it featured Danny's lightning fast precision on covers of songs and his original "Blues Newburg." In 1992 Blue Note records released "New York Stories,Vol I" a jazz compilation, which was followed up by the 1993 release from Elektra of "Cruisin' Dueces", a mix of originals and classics including "Harlem Nocturne," "Mystery Train/My Baby Left Me" (from Elvis' Sun Sessions), and Paul Anka's Buddy Holly tune "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," with vocals by Rodney Crowell and Delbert McClinton. Despite a U.S. tour, as well as appearances on national TV playing with David Letterman's and Conan O'Brien's bands, the second album also failed to chart and Gatton was dropped by Elektra, forcing Danny back to session work to pay the bills.
Danny usually played a 1953 Fender Telecaster , with Joe Barden pickups and Fender Super 250L's, or Nickel Plated Steel strings. As a slide Gatton would often use a beer bottle or mug. He played using a jazz style teardrop pick using a picking technique that was a combination of pick and fingers, primarily his middle and ring fingers on his right hand, a style he developed from playing the banjo. It should also be noted here that Danny was left handed but played as a righty, which may have contributed to his amazing speed and precision.
Gatton loved to tinker, by customizing his own equiptment, and created his own "Magic Dingus Box," which was a controller mounted on his guitar. It controlled an Echoplex, MXR EQ (equalizer), delay, reverb, and the speeds of the rotating horn in a Leslie speaker cabinet. He later stopped using these effects to prove that he wasn’t reliant on them to get his sound. His favorite amplifiers was an original tweed Fender Bassman and a heavily-modified early 1960s Fender Vibrolux blackface. He played the Bassman without reverb.
As a much sought after session player, the list of albums he appears on is a testament to his amazing musicianship;
Deanna Bogart - "Out To Get You" (1990, Blind Pig Records BP73890) Danny playsthe lead on the jazzy instrumental "Ethel's Place"
Brooks Tegler's Hot Jazz - "And Not Only That!" (released 1995, BigMo Records 20242) Danny is featured on two cuts "Birdland" and the title track.
Bobby Charles - "Bobby Charles Invades the Wells Fargo Lounge" (1968) Danny plays on the whole record, and is given a solo spotlight in "Malaguena".
Commander Cody - "Flying Dreams" (1978, Arista AB4183) Danny plays rhythm on "He's in Love, He's In Trouble" and "Vampira."
Cindy Bullens - "Desire Wire". UK edition: (United Artists UAG 30217)
Big Al Downing - "Big Al Downing" (Team Records, TRA 2001)
Steve Ervin - "Was It Like This" Danny and John Previti play on the whole album for this singer songwriter.
Robert Gordon - "Are You Gonna Be The One" (1989, One Way Records
"Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die"
"Black Slacks" (1990, Bear Family Records) Gordon greatest hitscompilation featuring Danny on 6 of the 25 cuts..
"Fresh Fish Special"
"All For the Love of Rock and Roll" (Viceroy), (reissued in 1995 by Roadhouse Records) 1994 US
Chris Issak - "San Francisco Days" (1993, Reprise) Danny borrowed a Stratocaster to play the leads on “5:15”, and the fills on the second verse of “Can’t Do A Thing To Stop Me”.
Leslee "Bird" Anderson - "Running Wild" (1988, Renegade Records) Danny plays on most if not all the cuts.
Delbert McClinton - "Delbert McClinton" (1993, Curb 77600) Danny and Delbert reprise their performance of "Sun Medley", which also appearaed on "Cruisin' Deuces."
Arlen Roth - "Toolin' Around" (1993, Blue Plate Music) Danny and Arlen perform a duet of "Tequila."
Johnny Seaton - "Uptown" (Renegade Records) Danny plays on all but two cuts.
"Reaction" (1986, Rounder Records) As part of Rounder's New American Series, Danny and Johnny laid down 11 great tracks.
Bobby Smith - "Two Sides" (1987, Ripsaw ) Danny plays two great solos on "Both Wheels Left The Ground."
Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer - "Nobody Else Like Me" (1998, Rounder Kids ) Reissue of a 1993 A&M release.
New Potato Traveler - "Promising Traveler" (Rukodisc) 1989 UK
Todd Monroe - "High Performance" (Renegade Records) 1990 US
Danny's Personal Discography:
1975 - American Music, (Danny & the Fat Boys), (Aladdin Records), Re-issued in 1998 (NRG NCD-3422-2)
1978 - Redneck Jazz, (NRG NCD-2916)
1987 - Unfinished Business, (NRG NCD-02479)
1989 - Vintage Masters, (Hippo H8901), partial re-issue of American Music, Danny & The Fat Boys
1990 - Blazing Telecasters, (Powerhouse P108), (live 4/27/84)
1991 - 88 Elmira St, (Elektra 9-61032-2)
1992 - New York Stories, (Blue Note 98959/TOC 75721)
1993 - Cruisin' Deuces, (Elektra 9-61465-2)
1994 - Relentless (Big Mo 20232), with Joey DeFrancesco
1995 - Redneck Jazz Explosion, (NRG), (live 12/31/78)
1996 - The Humbler , (NRG NCD6842), Live recording with Robert Gordon & band that circulated as a bootleg for 15+ years
1998 - In Concert 9/9/94 (Big Mo 2028)
1998 - Untouchable (NRG NCD 1242-2)
1998 - Portraits (Big Mo 2030)
1999 - Capitol Attack, (Renegade CD2010) Live rockabilly with Robert Gordon.
1999 - Hot Rod Guitar, (Rhino). A Danny Gatton Anthology double disk set.
2001 - Running Wild, (Renegade), This four CD Box set of Danny's 1980's rockabilly work, was released by Renegade Records on April 23, 2001.
2004 - Funhouse, (live 6/10-11/88)
2007 - Live In 1977: The Humbler Stakes His Claim, (Powerhouse)
Non-Commercial Recordings (Live)
(Recorded live at Psychedelly, Bethesda, MD, c. 1976)
Danny Gatto / Jimmy Thackery
(soundboard recording, at the Wax Museum, Washington, DC, on December 18, 1982, and Psychedelly, Bethesda, MD, on August 14, 1977)
(Recorded live at Babe's. Washington, DC, on October 29, 1977)
Danny Gatton & Redneck Jazz: Orphans
(12/31/1978) (Recorded live at Cellar Door, Washington, DC on December 30-31, 1978)
The Redneck Jazz Orchestra, Vol 2
Redneck Jazz Explosion
(Private soundboard recording, recorded live at Cellar Door, Washington, DC, on December 30-31, 1978)
Danny Gatton & Robert Gordon
(Recorded live on January 5, 1983 + March 4, 1979)
Danny Gatton With Robert Gordon
(Soundboard recording, recorded live in New York City, on December 29, 1982)
Danny Gatton with Buddy Emmons: Live at The Birchmere, Alexandria Virginia
(Recorded live in Alexandria, VA, on June 10, 1988)
(Soundboard recording, recorded live at the Roxy, Washington, DC, on May 26, 1989)
Live at Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant & Music Club
(August 12, 1989 in Sommerville, Masschusetts
Jack & The Degenerates Feat. Danny Gatton: Take it Away Danny
(recorded live with Jack Casady & the Degenerates & Jorma Kaukonen at the Riverside Church, New York on December 26, 1989 and Lone Star Roadhouse, 18 November 1989; soundboard recording)
Grog & Tankard
(Soundboard recording, recorded live in Washington, DC, 1989)
Live in Philadelphia
(Live at Tramps Nightclub in New York, July 13, 1990 with Johnny Winter
(Soundboard recording, recorded live in Harrispurgh, PA on May 28, 1991)
Live at The Chestnut Cabaret
(Recorded live at the Chestnut Cabaret, Philadelphia, PA, on November 30, 1991)
Welcome to PG County Funk / Danny Gatton & Friends
Danny Gatton & More Friends - I Came to Play the Blues
(Recorded live at Lulu's Blues Kitchen)
(Soundboard recording, recorded live at Fox Theater, Boulder, CO, on August 16, 1993)
The Danny Gatton Trio - Penn's Landing
(Soundboard recording, recorded live at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, PA, on May 21, 1994)
(Recorded live at Smithsonian Mall, Washington, DC on July 3, 1994 and at Club Soda, Washington, DC, on February 16, 1989)
For reasons still unclear to those who knew and loved him, Danny Gatton took his own life at his home in Newburg, MD, on October 20, 1994, and although he was rumored to have been suffering on and off from depression, he left no note behind.
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