rl burnside

Our senior editor onstage with R.L. Burnside for the first time, at the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo by Margo Cooper

How meeting one of my guitar heroes changed my life.

This month’s Question & Obsession (“Have You Ever Met One of Your Guitar Heroes?”) gave me a Crank-like jolt of gratitude. Such encounters are one of the gifts of this music journalism gig, and it conjured a riptide of joyful memories. A few: traveling with Metallica in the Netherlands and Italy; gift shopping with Billy Gibbons; smoking weed with blues legend Robert Lockwood and counterculture legend John Sinclair along the banks of the Mississippi; interviewing Robert Fripp at his ancestral home in Cranborne, Dorset, and meeting his delightful mother, Edith; being introduced to Leo Fender by Les Paul; nearly getting tossed out of a hotel bar in Akron with Scorpions (we were hammered, disorderly, and on the first Monsters of Rock tour); many conversations with B.B. King; trading jokes with the wonderful Sonny Sharrock; instigating a jam with Danny Gatton and Billy Sheehan (after Billy and I were nearly ejected from Trader Vic’s in Chicago … alcohol again!); and trading bootleg tapes with Carlos Santana.

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