Around the time electric guitars became affordable in the ’30’s and ’40’s it seemed that Jazz guitarists popped up everywhere, but the most prominent name to stand alone was Aaron Thibeaux Walker. T-Bone is a manipulation of his middle name. Born on May 26th 1910 in Linden Texas. Perhaps one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time. I call it the inspiration tree of guitar players.
Among the first generation of great blues players he inspired directly are: Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Obviously his influence has indirectly affected future generations of blues guitar players, even if they don’t know it. I am one of them.
It was T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters who brought the electric guitar to the blues. They transformed acoustic country blues into the mainstream sounds of Chicago, Memphis and Kansas City into what is now the electric blues.
T-Bones’s style and musical intuition were sophisticated at the time and evolved for practical reasons. He was versatile as a musician and a master showman who worked and sweat hard on stage. He combined jazz harmony, string bending and he used ninth chords in a fairly sophisticated manner that his Delta blues comrades hardly recognized. His most famous song “Call It Stormy Monday” is one he really opened up, taking the blues to places other melodic players of the day had not been.
Watch the video, but more importantly listen to it. It is an amazing compilation of blues and some jazz chords mixed up. It is easy to then understand how much he influenced the style of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Listening to SRV is a combination of Albert King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins with some Jimi Hendrix. Listen to your favorite blues players old and new, try to determine who influenced them.
Joe Bonamassa is a new breed of guitar player. He has his own style, but you can hear his influences such as SRV and other core blues guitarists too. Perhaps you know should know Jeff Healey as well. Take a few minutes to read about Jeff Healey and view the videos, it is easy to understand why Stevie Ray was so fond of him and enjoyed playing on stage with Jeff.
Walker was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Shedding light on the original blues guitarists, how they got there, who and what inspired them is a subject at Guitar Players Center that is of personal interest, but more importantly gives us a view of how guitar blues has evolved.