james brown

Photo by Tim Duffy

At 79, the wah-wah crazy guitarist is a living nexus of psychedelia-soaked blues and rock. He talks about coming up in doo-wop, Atlanta’s supercharged ’60s R&B scene, jamming with his friend Jimi, his guitar named Sweet Rose, and his new album, Let the Gods Sing.

“I grew up listening to all music, and that’s where my playing came from—country, rock, blues, and the gospel feel,” explains Herman Hitson. These varied yet inextricably linked influences probably explain why it’s hard to pigeonhole Hitson’s guitar playing, which is often described as some magical combination of funk, blues, and psychedelic rock. However, “soul,” or perhaps even “spiritual,” might be more apt, especially when considering his own assessment. “I look at my guitar playing as part of my soul—what’s coming out of me. It takes a person a long time to find themselves, because we come up mimicking everybody else, and after years and years, you’ve got to find yourself.”

Musically speaking, Hitson arguably found himself decades ago. It’s just taken the rest of the world 50-plus years to catch up.

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