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ROY'S BLUZ

 

Leroy Buchanan was born in Ozark, Arkansas, and was raised there and in Pixley, California, a farming area between Visalia and Bakersfield. His father was a sharecropper in Arkansas and a farm laborer in California.Buchanan told interviewers that his father was also a Pentecostal preacher, a note repeated in Guitar Player magazine but disputed by his older brother J.D.Buchanan told how his first musical memories were of racially mixed revival meetings he attended with his mother, Minnie. "Gospel," he recalled, "that's how I first got into black music." He in fact drew upon many disparate influences while learning to play the guitar (though he later claimed his aptitude derived from being "half-wolf"). He initially showed talent on steel guitar before switching to guitar in the early 50s, and started his professional career at age 15, in Johnny Otis's rhythm and blues revue.



Buchanan has influenced many guitarists, including Robbie Robertson, Gary Moore, Danny Gatton, Arlen Roth, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Jerry Garcia, Mick Ronson, Nils Lofgren, Jim Campilongo, and Steve Kimock;Beck dedicated his version of "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" from Blow by Blow to him.His work is said to "stretch the limits of the electric guitar,"and he is praised for "his subtlety of tone and the breadth of his knowledge, from the blackest of blues to moaning R&B and clean, concise, bone-deep rock 'n' roll."

According to his agent and others, Buchanan was doing well, having gained control of his drinking habit and playing again, when he was arrested for public intoxication after a domestic dispute. He was found hanged from his own shirt in a jail cell on August 14, 1988, in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Jail. According to Thomas Hartman, who was in a cell near Buchanan's, the deputy sheriff opened the door early in the morning and found Buchanan with the shirt around his neck. His cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, a finding disputed by Buchanan's friends and family. One of his friends, Marc Fisher, reported seeing Roy's body with bruises on the head.

After his death, compilation and other albums continue to be released, including in 2004 the never-released first album he recorded for Polydor, The Prophet. Roy Buchanan is interred at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.



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