Monday night in NYC you could go to The Bitter End, or Terra Blues in Greenwich
Village, and hear Gordon Gaines, a true master
of the guitar.
his soul out into every note he played.
Everyone who met him was
touched by the soulful way he played,
and his fun, easy going
left this world on May 2, 1997 to jam with Zappa & Hendrix in heaven.
Rumor has it Stevie Ray
is there also.
He is terribly missed
by everyone who knew him.
I met Gordon
Gaines in 1983.
My roommate Tom Walker
was a childhood friend of his, and I met Gordon when
he came to visit our apartment.
I had heard about his
great guitar playing ability years before, as his reputation had preceded
I listened to a studio
tape he brought over and I immediately thought his guitar playing was brilliant.
We began a casual friendship that lasted until his, far too early, departure
from this planet.
At the time I was the
sound engineer for a jazz ensemble group called the Spirit
One day Gordon
showed up at a rehearsal for the band.
I got to work with him
at a few of the Spirit of Life gigs which
was a great privilege.
That led him to ask me
to engineer sound for him for a few dates for a great band he was in called
Over the years I got to
work with him now and again. It was always fun.
I also went to many of
his Bitter End and Terra Blues gigs in NYC.
I didn't get to see him
often enough, now I wish I had made more of an effort to.
The day of the picture
below, we literally bumped into one another in Greenwich Village and shared
He had a wicked sense
of humor and we used to laugh our butts off whenever we got together.
I remember times that
I would see him on the street and he would ask me if I was coming to the
Monday night show.
I told him I couldn't
go to the show because I was too poor at the time.
He would tell me to just
show up, and that he would take care of me.
When I showed up he would
plop me down in front of the stage and tell the waitress to keep bringing
me beers until I fell over!
I was always grateful
of him doing that so that I had the the privilege of seeing him play.
He was always very cool
with me, and he was always appreciative of how I loved his music.
can't explain how much I miss his presence in this world.
One thing that has struck
me in the many letters I have received, is how so many peoples experiences
mirror my own.
Everyone seemed to marvel
Gordon's effortless, frightening guitar
playing, and all seem to be in awe of his talent. Gordon
himself was always modest about his playing saying things like "I'd
sound better if I could stay in tune!"
He was always in tune
to my ears.
truly "played" the guitar meaning that he was playing with the instrument,
always having fun with it. The guitar was just a tool of his personality
and his wicked sharp wit. He dominated
the guitar with an effortless ease.
Something I noticed about
his playing, and his guitar solos, was the intense thread of concentration
he had through them. When you first heard him solo sometimes
it would seem like he was just brilliantly flailing away in a psychotic
But soon you realized
there was much more to his playing than just techno guitar speed.
I compare him to Frank
Zappa, one of Gordon's many musical
was one of the first people I knew who really "got" what Zappa
was all about.
Zappa, who was a far more brilliant guitar player than he was ever
given credit for, would play these long meandering solos that would
seem to go on forever.
It seemed like Zappa
was just lost in the sound of his own playing, and that it was just a sonic
exercise in his own technical ability.
guitar playing was much more than that. If you truly listened you'll
find that Frank always knew exactly where
he was going in his solos. He always knew how to take it as far out
as he could, yet he always managed to sum it all up and bring the listener
also soloed like that. He wasn't just aimlessly flailing away with meaningless
guitar pyrotechnics. He always knew where he was going when he played.
His guitar solos told
a story, they spoke to you. They seductively drew you
in to follow them along from a structured beginning, through intense guitar
aural aerobics, back to a theme which drew you home. Not many people
can play like that.
always knew where he was when he was playing, where he was going, and how
to effortlessly to get back home to the root of the song.
That thread of musical
concentration was just a part of his brilliance.
It's also worth mentioning
that Gordon played many other instruments
including bass & keyboards. He was also an excellent songwriter,
producer, and a great singer as well.
Kelly, Joe Jones, Melony Tulchin, & Gordon Gaines