Lucas epitomized cool onstage in the early '70s, during his years with Miles Davis. He played on Davis' classic albums Pangaea and Agharta, among others. Later, he penned Madonna's "Borderline." Courtesy of

From playing classic soul to breaking ground with Miles Davis to crafting pop hits for Stephanie Mills and Madonna, the guitarist-producer led a dazzling and varied career.

Guitarist Reggie Lucas, who had a wildly varied career—from backing soul vocalists Billy Paul and Roberta Flack to playing in Miles Davis' groundbreaking early '70s electric bands to performing on Olatunji's world-music classic Soul Makossa to producing the majority of Madonna's debut album—died on Saturday, May 19, due to complications from heart disease. He was 65.

The New York City native began playing with Davis at age 19, in 1972, and appeared on that year's Miles Davis In Concert. While guitarists like Pete Cosey and John McLaughlin took the role of 6-string soloist in Davis' ensembles of the era, Lucas played a more foundational part. His rhythm work helped define the music's sturdy spine. Nonetheless, Lucas was a strong blues-based lead guitarist, as his first solo album, 1976's Survival Themes, displays on tunes like “Slewfoot," on which he trades between gutty single-notes lines and a classic wah-wah scratch.

Lucas' greatest successes were as a songwriter and producer. He wrote and produced hits for the Spinners, Robert Flack, Lou Rawls, and Stephanie Mills, and shared a Best R&B Song Grammy with writing partner James Mtume in 1981 for Mills' hit “Never Knew Love Like This Before." Two years later, he produced and played guitar on six songs for Madonna's first album, and co-wrote her first top-10 hit “Borderline." Lucas went on to build and operate Jersey City's Quantum Sound studio, where Jeff Buckley, the Pet Shop Boys, and Sepultura have all made albums. In 1991, Lucas had a heart attack that left him with the coronary issues that ultimately caused his death.

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Get an earful of Reggie Lucas' churning wah-fueled rhythm playing and raw blues-based lead guitar on “Slewfoot," from his 1975 solo album Survival Themes.

Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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