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Great Guitarist

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Through out history, music has played a big role. It has let people communicate and others release their creative minds. Throughout the life of music, instruments have made it happen. The guitar has become one of the most popular of all instruments. In fact, almost every band heard on the radio has a lead guitar accompanying the vocals. Thanks to the greats like B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Andres Segovia, and Eric Clapton the guitar has been made the lead instrument in much of music. With contributions from each one of these legendary players, the guitar is used in a variety of styles; heavy metal to classical.

Now a days, guitars are seen and heard everywhere. There are so many different types and styles. The two major categories are electric and acoustic. Electric guitars where first introduced in the 1940's to enhance and amplify the sound of acoustic guitars. Acoustic guitars have hollow, wooden bodies. When the strings are played, the sound is amplified and echoes in the resonating body (New Grove 827).

Today the common guitars, acoustic and electric, have six strings and on average of nineteen frets that range 3 Ð... octaves. An octave is a unit of measurement obtaining to tones. Each string has a name. The bottom and thinnest string is the high e, next is b, then g, onto d, then A, and finally low E. Sound is made by strumming or plucking these strings while placing the fingers of the opposite hand on the frets and strings to produce different notes (Turnbull 825).

The guitar is hard to trace back beyond the Renaissance period but it is known the guitar has roots in Spain. The first known guitar was small with four sets of strings; each set called a course. Later a fifth course was added. At the end of the Baroque period, single strings replaced the double strings and a sixth was added. Since then, the guitar was changed little until Manuel Torres worked with the design and body. First, he increased the overall size. Making the body bigger and the neck longer added more notes

and more amplification. He was the first to use the fan brace design on the inside of the resonating body. This increased the sound quality that was produced by the echo. This design is still in use today (Some Guitar History 2).

B.B. King was born on September 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. He was given the name Riley B. King after his uncle. His Mother left his father and sent Riley to live with his grandmother. Riley was very active in the church as a youth. He went to church every Sunday with his grandmother. In his parish, music was of great importance. The preacher used it as the main tool for teaching the word. Young King was inspired by his pastor's method of preaching and guitar playing. The pastor taught B.B. the basics of the guitar and he fell in love. At age sixteen he bought his first guitar for two dollars and fifty cents that was lent to him (Kerekes 1).

After his grandmother passed away, Riley wanted to make a future for himself. He moved to Indianola, Mississippi and started a gospel group called The Famous St. John's Gospel Singers. He sang and played his guitar for this group. On the side, he played the blues on the street corners (Kerekes 2).

In 1946, King went to Memphis in search of his cousin Bukka White. After finding him, Bukka taught Riley everything from how to hold the guitar to phrasing lyrics in the ten months that followed. Bukka taught Riley the art of the blues. The two guitarists jammed together in private and played impromptu with others they had met (Kerekes 2).

King left Memphis for Indianola but returned later to find his friend Sonny Boy Williams. Sonny had a blues radio show on a local radio station and Riley thought he could get on it and play. He was allowed a 10 minutes session on WDIA as long as he promoted Pepticon health tonic. One of the tunes was, "Pepticon, Pepticon, sure is good - You can get it anywhere in your neighborhood..." (Sawyer 2). Soon he became a DJ

and went by the name "Blues Boy King". This name shortened to B.B. King and it stuck with him (Kerekes 3).

B.B.'s first hit was "3 O'clock Blues." His second hit, "Woke Up This Morning," was inspired by the divorce of his first wife who could not handle being apart from B.B. for long periods of time. He remarried but the same tension was placed on this marriage. His biggest hit song, "The Thrill Is Gone," was the result of his second divorce (Kerekes 3).

B.B. King became very popular with the black community. He was introduced to the main stream when the Butterfield Blues Band said that they had learned to play their guitars by watching and copying B.B. King. In 1969 he played the Tonight Show and in '71 he played the Ed Sullivan Show. An appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show would boost almost any musician and B.B. was a huge hit. B.B. King was the king of the blues guitar. His swift fingers, blending notes and strong gospel voice made him the king he is today (Kerekes 4).

Born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington, Johnny Allen Hendrix was god's gift to pop music. He was renamed James Marshall after his father. At a young age James took interest in the guitar playing of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Holly (Pesant 1).

His first instrument was a one-stringed ukulele that his father had found. In 1958, his father bought him a second-hand acoustic guitar for five dollars. The following summer he bought his first electric guitar, which was a Supro Ozark 1560S. Young Hendrix could not read music so he depended on repeating what he heard. He taught himself to play by listening to music, finding the right notes and chords and then playing them back (Pesant 1).

His first band was called the Velvetones. He played with them for quite a while. After he left the band he played with people such as Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, and Little Richard. In 1965 he parted with Little Richard to form a new band. This band was named Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Jimmy took lead guitar in the band for a year until he signed to move to London to form a new band. His name was changed again, to Jimi Hendrix. This was the beginning of the groundbreaking group, Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966 (Pesant 1).

Jimi had a unique style of playing his guitar. For one, he had a right-handed guitar though he was a lefty so he played it upside down. He combined fuzz, feedback, and controlled distortion to create his own new musical form. According to critics "The music of Jimi Hendrix embraced the influences of blues, ballads, rock, R&B, and jazz" (Pesant 2). Jimi's renegade version of the Star Spangled Banner played at Woodstock '69 defined this style...his style perfectly (Pesant



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