100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

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T-Bone Walker

Photo: Getty

T-Bone Walker invented the guitar solo as we know it — he was the guy who figured out how to make an electric guitar cry and moan. Born in Texas in 1910, he was a bluesman touring the South by the age of fifteen. As early as 1935, he was playing primitive electric-guitar models. But he shocked everyone with his 1942 debut single, "Mean Old World," playing bent notes, vibrato sobs and more wild new electric sounds that other guitarists hadn't even dreamed of. Walker invented a new musical language, from the urban flash of "The Hustle Is On" to the dread of "Stormy Monday." Through the Forties and Fifties, he led his suave L.A. jump-blues combo on classics such as "You're My Best Poker Hand," "I Know Your Wig Is Gone" and "Long Skirt Baby Blues."

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