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Through The Cracks
Clouds | Danny Gatton | Roy Buchanan | TimeBox - Patto | Joe Stanley

On The Boards
The Beatles
| Pink Floyd | Fleetwood Mac | Moody Blues | Jethro Tull | Les Paul | Tina Turner | Cyndi Lauper


 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

Roy Buchanan
(September 23, 1939 - August 14, 1988)


  Roy Buchanan's career stretches back to the early days of rock & roll, he was very adept at blending the emerging sounds of rock with country, blues, and jazz into a style encompassing amazing speed , harmonics, and special effects that he achieved without the dazzling array of electronics available to today's musician. He favored techniques such as bending the string before plucking the note to simulate a steel guitar, using double and triple stops, and using the volume and tone controls to create swells that emphasized the unique structures of his solos. Buchanan honed his live technique through many years of playing dance halls and bars and his musical career took him from underground clubs, to national television, gold record sales, and worldwide tours in the eighties with Lonnie Mack, the Allman Brothers, Willie Nile and others. Buchanan played Carnegie Hall several times, and is perhaps the only lead guitarist to have consistently headlined there for over 15 years.

  In 1953 at age 14 Roy quit high school and went to LA, where he began playing with R&B bandleader Johnny Otis, later joining up with a band called the Heartbeats. When the band was stranded in Oklahoma City by their manager Buchanan met Dale Hawkins, joining his band and touring with him for a couple of years. Buchanan’s first recording was the lead on Hawkins’ "My Babe" at Chess Records in Chicago in 1958. Two years later, during a tour through Toronto, Buchanan left Dale Hawkins to play for his cousin Ronnie Hawkins where he also gave lessons to Ronnie's guitar player, Robbie Robertson. The early 60s found Buchanan performing numerous gigs as a sideman with multiple rock bands, and cutting a number of sessions as guitarist for other musicians. Playing with Johnnie Otis, Freddie Cannon, Ronnie and Dale Hawkins, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Stanley Clarke, drawing acclaim from the Beatles, Les Paul, Jeff Beck, Charlie Byrd, and inspiring guitarists such as Robbie Robertson, Danny Gatton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and many more. Even today, more than 20 years after his death, he has the respect of many guitarists and a large number of fans, particularly for his unique sound. Buchanan was noted for the ability to get "wah wah" and volume/tone effects from his Telecaster by use of the instrument's knobs, and he pioneered the use of pinch harmonics, a technique of which of rock's most notable guitarists acknowledge Buchanan's mastery.

  Settling in Washington DC in the early '60s, with his wife to raise a family, Roy spent much of that decade playing in various local groups, but was forced to work as a barber during the day to make ends meet. Roy's first major releases came during the seventies yielding some great songs, (now considered classic), like "The Messiah Will Come Again," "Sweet Dreams," and "Tribute to Elmore James, but unfortunately the work achieved only moderate commercial success. "Roy Buchanan & the Snakestretchers", often referred to as the "Burlap Bag album" (named because of its burlap cover), was released by Adelphi Records in 1971 and Buchanan’s reputation spread by word of mouth. Later that same year the Washington press started to notice him and after Rolling Stone magazine reprinted the Washington Post’s article, Roy garnered the attention of a WNET (National Educational Television) producer, who made a television documentary about Buchanan called "The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World". This exposure got him a contract with Polydor, and began a decade of national and international touring and yielded five albums with one going gold.

  Even though things were looking up, Roy was unsatisfied and disgusted with the over-production forced on his music, and he quit recording in 1981, vowing never to enter a studio again unless he could record his own music his own way. Four years later, Roy was brought back into the studio by Alligator. His first album for Alligator, "When a Guitar Plays The Blues", was released in the spring of 1985. It was the first time Roy was given complete artistic freedom in the studio, and it was also his first true blues album. The album quickly climbed Billboard's pop charts "with a bullet" and remained on the charts for 13 weeks, being well received by music critics, as well as fans, who applauded Roy's efforts with accolades and plenty of four star reviews.

  His second Alligator recording, "Dancing on The Edge", was released in the fall of 1986. The album, featuring Roy's trademark guitar licks, and three cuts featuring vocalist Delbert McClinton, won the College Media Journal Award for Best Blues Album of 1986. Audio Magazine gave Roy rave reviews, saying "Buchanan plugs his guitar straight into your frontal lobes. His playing is alive with emotion and boasts a full, wild sound that consistently threatens to go over the edge. This is definitely a disc that will get your party started."

  Roy stated that, "Since coming to Alligator, I'm finally making the records that I've always wanted to make". He released the twelfth album of his career and his third for Alligator, "Hot Wires", in 1987. In addition to Donald Kinsey (formerly with Albert King and Bob Marley), keyboardist Stan Szelest, and session greats Larry Exum (bass) and Morris Jennings (drums), this album included guest vocals by Johnny Sayles and Kanika Kress.

  Buchanan was a pioneer of the Telecaster sound. He initially showed talent on the steel guitar before switching to the standard instrument in the early 50s. In 1953, at the age of 13, Roy bought his first Fender Telecaster which he played for years until finally replacing it with a 1983 model fitted with Bill Lawrence pickups. Buchanan used a number of guitars throughout his career, although he was most often associated with the '53 Telecaster, which he used to produce his signature sound. Rarely did Buchanan utilize effects boxes, although in some later live performances he utilized a digital delay. His sound was basically his Tele through an overdriven Fender amp, he used the Fender Twin and Vibrolux, and occasionally the Peavey Classic.
   He is most know for his trademark picking techniques of turning the volume control to zero and fade it up after picking the string, and his ability to execute pinch harmonics on command, by holding his thumb at a certain angle, Buchanan was able to hit the string and then partially mute it, suppressing lower overtones and exposing the harmonics. Buchanan taught himself many guitar styles, including the 'chicken pickin' style. He sometimes used his thumb nail rather than a plectrum and also employed it to augment his index finger and plectrum.
  Roy's personal guitar gallery was quite extensive. Besides his trademark '53 Tele Roy owned and recorded with many other guitars, a '54 Tele, '55 Tele, Martin D28, Martin D35, Les Paul, and after visiting the Guild Guitar factory a 1986 Guild Nightbird, and a Guild T-200. In his last years, Roy experimented with custom made variations of the Telecaster's styling, culminating in the Fritz brothers prototype which preceded the Roy Buchanan bluesmaster.

  Roy Buchanan's full potential for success was never realized; On August 14th, 1988, when Buchanan was arrested for a minor alcohol-related incident, he was found hanging by his own shirt in his cell in the Fairfax County Jail. The cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, a finding disputed by Buchanan's friends and family, but the long and somewhat tragic history of Roy Buchanan came to a close. Roy's career was marked by frustration, disappointment, and ultimately, tragedy. But lack of commercial success and fame aside, his legacy is a handful of enduring solo albums, accolades from some of rock's greatest players, and a contribution to rock music of his original techniques such as the volume swell and pinch harmonics.


Roy Buchanan's Discography
1971- Buch & The Snakestretchers, Bioya
1972 - Roy Buchanan and the Snakestretchers, Bioya
1972 - Roy Buchanan, Polydor
1973 - Second Album, Polydor
1974 - That's What I Am Here For, Polydor
1974 - In the Beginning, Polydor
1975 - Live Stock, Polydor
1975 - Rescue Me, Polydor
1976 - Street Called Straight, Atlantic
1977 - Loading Zone, Atlantic
1978 - You're Not Alone, Atlantic
1981 - My Babe, AJK
1985 - When a Guitar Plays the Blues, Alligator
1986 - Dancing on the Edge, Alligator
1987 - Hot Wires, Alligator
1989 - Early Years, Krazy Kat
1992 - Sweet Dreams: The Anthology, Polydor
1993 - Guitar on Fire: Atlantic Sessions, Rhino
1997 - Malaguena, Annecillo Records
2001 - Roy Buchanan - Deluxe Edition, Alligator Records
2002 - 20th Century Masters-The Millennium Collection: The Best of Roy Buchanan, Polydor
2003 - American Axe: Live in 1974, Powerhouse Records






         Roy Buchanan Discography
                    Roy Buchanan Discography






Through The Cracks
Clouds | Danny Gatton | Roy Buchanan | TimeBox - Patto | Joe Stanley

On The Boards
The Beatles
| Pink Floyd | Fleetwood Mac | Moody Blues | Jethro Tull | Les Paul | Tina Turner | Cyndi Lauper

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