louie shelton

As a first-call session guitarist in Los Angeles during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, Louie Shelton played on hit records by virtually all the top artists of the day. His bluesy lines and slinky octaves earned him the nickname “Sweet Louie Shelton” and the enduring respect of his contemporaries. Photo courtesy of Louie Shelton

He played for James Brown, John Lennon, Streisand, Whitney, and countless others. So how come so few guitar nuts know storied session ace Louie Shelton?

If you have ever listened to classic pop, you’ve certainly heard Louie Shelton’s guitar work. That’s Shelton purveying the signature guitar part and solo on “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees, the soaring instrumental hook and solo on Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown,” the solo on Lionel Ritchie’s megahit “Hello,” and the silky licks on “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Crofts. You might also have come across his playing on records by John Lennon, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, the Carpenters, Joe Cocker, Kenny Rogers, the Mamas & the Papas, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and many others.

Yet, despite a decade rife with movies about the musicians who labor behind the scenes to create the recordings and live shows we love—The Wrecking Crew, Sidemen, Hired Gun, Muscle Shoals, 20 Feet from Stardom—you could be forgiven for not knowing his name as he is largely absent from these historical films.

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