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by Julia Crowe
Julia Crowe has quite a concept in this expansive collection of vignettes of seminal guitarists telling how they first planted the playing seed. The author describes how the book was conceived, her younger self boarding a flight to meet Jimmy Page in London for a cup of coffee—but she lets him, and the other players, do most of the talking.
Crowe (guitarist, composer, journalist, and teacher) impressively executes heartfelt storytelling gleaned from hundreds of interviews with the “who’s who” of players (Dick Dale, Seymour Duncan, Alex Lifeson, Albert Lee, Scotty Moore, Steve Vai, etc.), and she delivers the goods in unique first-person accounts. Les Paul recounts acquiring a $3.95 Sears-Roebuck guitar after his mother gave him grief for playing piano (“it’s not convenient”) and the drums (“she immediately ordered that out of the house”). The rest is history, as they say, but this book is testament. It’s not just about the first guitars or the players themselves, really. It’s much more: the follow-up from that first chance meeting—that coming-of-age experience with music. This is life, told and celebrated through guitars. —Tessa Jeffers