That time Roy Buchanan told me that David Gilmour was just a bluesman at heart


By Steve Newton

I’ve been getting quite a few hits lately for a blog I posted last year about Danny Gatton, which included an audio excerpt from the interview I did with the underrated guitar genius back in 1993.

So I figured maybe it was time to treat that particular group of Ear of Newt readers–the ones who really know their shit when it comes to mindboggling but relatively overlooked players –to a similar blast from the past.

Back in April of 1988 I did my second and final interview with the great Roy Buchanan, who had actually been a huge influence on Gatton–as well as another of my other fave pickers, Jeff Beck, who dedicated “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” to him on Blow By Blow.

Like Gatton, Buchanan was a master of the Telecaster, technically scary and soulful as hell, effortlessly blending blues, jazz, country, rock, and rockabilly stylings.

And also like Gatton–who committed suicide at 49–he lived with a lot of demons. Buchanan only made it to 48, dying in a Virginia jail cell after a domestic dispute and arrest for public drunkenness. He was found hanged by his own shirt, although bruising on his body caused family and friends to suspect police brutality rather than suicide as the cause of death.

Whatever happened in Fairfax County lockup that awful night, just four months earlier, when I called him at his Virginia home, Roy sounded quite positive. He’d just gotten back from shooting a video at the Crossroads Nightclub in Maryland to promote his new Bluesmaster signature guitar, which he was excited about.

At one point in the interview I asked him about his recent tour in Australia, which saw him jamming with David Gilmour and other members of Pink Floyd at a bar one night.

David Gilmour and Roy Buchanan trading licks? Now that I’d like to see.

Have a listen:



4 responses to “That time Roy Buchanan told me that David Gilmour was just a bluesman at heart

  1. Roy was absolutely right. Listen to Shine On You Crazy Diamond and tell me that’s not a blues song.

  2. Steve,
    Your awful kind observation and recognition concerning those of us who make it our business to listen and learn a bit more than yer average pop music fanatic was part of what makes it worthwhile.
    In all modesty I include myself in that group. I don’t think of myself, nor do I aspire to be an “expert” blues aficionado. On the contrary, I’m just a guitar player, but I know good when I hear, and damned if I’m gonna apologize for that. I’m too old and tired not to call em like I see em.

    Roy Buchanan was one of the best. I’m not surprised Jeff Beck knew it, he’s another one whose guitar work can scorch the sky and touch the heart. [And yet I mentioned Jeff Beck to somebody the other day and a whole room full of people thought I was taking about the pop star, “Beck,” no first name, and had no idea who Jeff Beck is] I got nothing against the other guy, but I count myself fortunate that I’ve heard Jeff play “cause we’ve ended as lovers” and everything else he played live and all of his recordings I can get a hold of!

    I saw Roy Buchanan play in Atlanta. He was unreal. We all thought he was from Australia or New Zealand ’cause we were kids and he wasn’t yer run-of-the-mill rock star, and there wasn’t much press on the guy, and they were unusual looking.

    The drummer had a real simple rig, bass, snare, tom, high-hat, and that was about it. Plus, it looked like he made his set from a bunch of others, they were all different colours, reminded me of our drummer’s old kit. And Roy had like knit slacks and a turtleneck with a jacket, off-the-rack polyester number. He had the whole look going, and all we could figure was,
    “He just ain’t from around here…”

    Besides, when he started playing, what he was wearning only mattered to the extent that like his guitar style, it was all unique, all Roy.

    He played this one thing where he talked during the song, like Elvis used to do, and he does this spoken word part, and then he just tore up that guitar!

    Being close enough to notice what the jacket he was wearing was made of, we were in the perfect place to hear and see. And I gotta say Roy gave every indication he was engaged in life, and his music, well, it touched me and I rather doubt I was the only one.

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