ben harper

Larry Thomas knew how much Alexander Dumble revered Leo Fender and his designs. Thomas took Dumble to visit Leo’s office, where this photo was taken. It hasn’t been changed since Leo’s last day at work.

Photo courtesy of Larry Thomas

His amps fetch eye-popping sums, and the stories are legendary. Dumble’s friends share their memories of a true musical visionary.

Howard “Alexander” Dumble was about as close to a guitar mystic as you can get. He was an eccentric recluse as well known for the mythology surrounding his creations as for the amplifiers themselves. The list of players who have relied on his amps carves a through line of the history of modern electric guitar styles. Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jackson Browne, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, John Mayer, Sonny Landreth, Joe Bonamassa, and dozens of other A-listers found their sound through a Dumble amp. On January 17th, Dumble passed away at his home in Turlock, California.

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In November 2013, Ben Harper emotes at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, in a concert that also teamed him with blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite. "I put a lot into the words," the guitarist asserts.

Photo by Joe Russo

With his Innocent Criminals back together for a new album, Call It What It Is, the lap slide guru talks about his roots, songwriting, collaboration, and the mysteries of reggae and Neil Young.

In 2008—after nearly a decade of making roots-based music go pop, and winning two Grammys along the way—the collective consciousness of Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals had started to fade. Both personally and musically, the band was failing to evolve and grow. It was time for a change. So Harper focused more on his hard-rocking Relentless7 group along with some select solo projects.

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