Danny Gatton

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 2 (1978)

- Danny Gatton (RIP 1994) - guitar, banjo, pedal steel

- Dave Heintze - keyboards

- Evan Johns - vocals, rhythm guitar

- John Previti - bass

- Chuck Tilley - vocals


  supporting musicians

- Rick Davis - drums, percussion

- Buddy Emmons - pedal Steel

- Steve Wolf - bass


  line up 3 (1987)

- Jim Carroll -- keyboards

- Dave Elliott - drums, percussion

- Manny Fishman - drums, percussion

- Danny Gatton (RIP 1994) - guitar, banjo, pedal steel

- Roger McDuufle -- sax

- John Previtt -- bass

- Brooks Tegler -- drums, percussion




- The Age of Reason (Billy Windsor)

- The Offbeats



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Redneck Jazz

Company: NRG

Catalog: NLP8-2916

Year: 1978

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy; rare red vinyl pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4154

Price: $90.00


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Redneck Jazz

Company: NRG

Catalog: NRP9646

Year: 1978

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: minor cover wear; rare yellow vinyl pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4154

Price: $75.00


Cost: $1.00


Living in the Washington, D.C. area listening to the late Danny Gatton is one of life's mixed pleasures ...  there's sheer delight in listening to the man's blazing talent, but also deep sadness knowing that he committed suicide in October 1994.  


If only throughout guitar player circles, including Guitar World magazine which crowned him the world's greatest unknown guitar player, Gatton's second album, 1978's "Redneck Jazz" made him a superstar.  Self-produced, the set was all over the musical spectrum, aptly reflecting Gatton's affection for  blues, country, jazz and even conventional rock.  It was almost a primer, meant to demonstrate the man's versatility - hey there Mr. big label A&R man ...  That emphasis on versatility was supported by the fawning liner notes which included testimonials from Earth, Wind and Fire's Al McKay and Little Feat's Lowell George.   While Gatton occasionally handled lead vocals, this time out the spotlight was left to Evan Johns (on the first side) and Chuck Tilley (on side two).  Both were competent and thoroughly professional, though on the basis of 'Sailin' On' and 'Love Is What You Need', if I had to pick one of the two the nod would have gone to Tilley.  Now a word of warning.  Anyone expecting to hear a collection of hard hitting blues-rock or conventional hard rock was liable to be disappointed by the set.  Gatton had already been playing for some 25 years when this album came out and much of his background was playing country-oriented material supporting Liz Meyer & Friends and his own projects including  Danny & the Fat Boys and Redneck Jazz Explosion.  The result was that many of these tracks had a country tinge ('Truck Driving Romance', ' Ugly Man' and the title track) that probably wouldn't be immediately appealing to a rock fan.  Give the set a chance.  


"Redneck Jazz" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Truck Driving Romance - 2:56

Yeah, 'Truck Driving Romance' was a little too Commander Cody-styled country for my ears. (That might not be a major surprise given Gatton had just appeared on the Commander Cody album "Flying Dreams".)   Still, with it's tale of truck driver paradise, the song's over-the-top cuteness couldn't be saved by the Gatton solos.   rating: ** stars

2.) Redneck Jazz - 2:56

The title track was another Commander Cody-ish number sporting kind of a breezy, pop-jazz feel.  There was also a nice nod to Gatton himself.  The good news was that the song had a much better melody and gave Gatton an opportunity to showcase his more melodic fingering.    rating: ***  

3.) Sax Fifth Avenue (instrumental) - 4:08

In spite of the title, the instrumental 'Sax Fifth Avenue' didn't have a sax solo, rather served as a showcase for Gatton's '53 Telecaster.  No 100 miles an hour machine gun notes, rather simply a stunning slice of lead guitar - pretty, tasteful, and understated throughout.   Why can't we all play like this?    rating: ****  

4.) Ugly Man - 3:28

As a member of that distinguished group, 'Ugly Man' was a nice country-rocker.  Nice display of Gatton's ability to mesh speed and taste.    rating: ***  

5.) Rock Candy (instrumental) - 4:46

For anyone who though speed of light fingers and taste weren't possible there was the instrumental 'Rock Candy'.  The combination of Gatton's lead guitar and Buddy Emmon's pedal steel was simply jaw dropping.  How could two guys play that fast and still stay in synch.  Be sure to check out bassist John Previti's gallant efforts to keep up with the pair.  Imagine Wes Montgomery after a week free basing.  The album was worth buying just for this track.   rating: ****  


(side 2)

1.) Sailin' On - 3:16

Easily the most commercial song on the album, 'Sailin' On' was a pretty Poco-styled country rocker.  Gatton contributed some nice pedal steel in the background and a stunningly pretty lead segment.  How could anyone's playing be so smooth and fluid?    rating: ****  

2.) Love Is What You Need - 3:24

'Love Is What You Need' was another country-rocker with the emphasis on rocker.   The combination of Chuck Tilley's best vocal, a great melody, and Gatton's most rock-oriented work made this an album highlight.  Try sitting still through this one.   rating: *****  

3.) Comin' Home Baby (instrumental) - 8:41 

An extended jazz-influenced instrumental, 'Comin' Home Baby' served as an opportunity for Gatton and the rest of the band to stretch out .  Technically it was quite impressive, but stretched out over eight minutes the solos started to meld together.    rating: ***  


Original copies were pressed on clear red vinyl.  Latter copies were pressed on gold and conventional black vinyl.   (I remember my ADC laser turntable having massive issues with this album ... because the vinyl was clear the turntable's laser couldn't distinguish the separate bands.)


Perhaps not Gatton's strongest set, but still a good place to start checking out his legacy !



SRB 11/2008



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Unfinished Business

Company: NRG

Catalog: NLP-02497

Year: 1987

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ringer and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6064

Price: $30.00


Rock is full of so called guitar heroes; many overblown by media hype and undeserving of their reputations. That's not the case for Washington D.C.'s late Danny Gatton. A quiet, self-effacing man who was never comfortable with the praise and admiration that followed him, Gatton's low-keyed career never generated much in the way of sales, not did he attract much public attention. Even in his native Washington, Gatton remained little more than a cult figure. That said, luminaries including Buddy Emmons, the late Lowell George, Les Paul and Guitar Player magazine (which repeatedly named him Best Guitarist), all acknowledged his technical virtuosity and verve.  He's one of those handful of acts I wish I'd had the opportunity to see live ...

Recorded in Wheaton Maryland and released by the small Georgia-based NRG Records, 1987's "Unfinished Business" was dedicated to Gatton's late father Daniel W. Gatton Sr.  Perhaps my favorite Gatton release, the all-instrumental set served as a perfect introduction to the Gatton's musical diversity, as well as a reflection of his wide ranging musical influences. Check out the Les Paul-styled runs on "Cherokee", Gatton's cover of Charlie Byrd's "Homage To Charlie Christian", the insane "Fingers On Fire" (Gatton-meets-Monty Python) and his cover of Jackie Gleason's "Melancholy Serenade" (easily one of his prettiest melodies). Elsewhere, Gatton's own "Lappin It Up" was stunning - even more so when you realize that Gatton was playing both the Telecaster and Fender steel guitar solos. Anyone who didn't think Gatton could hack it in a rock or blues setting need only listen to the closer "Notcho Blues". Sadly, like his earlier releases, sales proved miniscule. (I always smile when reading the liner notes crediting Gatton's song-by-song guitar and amp choices.)



 (In 1994 NRG reissued the set on CD. The CD featured different cover art and included two bonus tracks: "Nit Pickin'" and "Georgia On My Mind".)

"Unfinished Business" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Cherokee (instrumental)   (R. Noble) - 3:12
2.) Lappin It Up (instrumental)   (Danny Gatton) - 3:21
2.) Melancholy Serenade (instrumental)   (Jackie Gleason - D. Enston) - 3:54
4.) Sky King (instrumental)   (Danny Gatton) - 7:46


(side 2)
1.) Homage To Charlie Christian (instrumental)   (Charlie Byrd) - 1:53
2.) Sleepwalk (instrumental)   (J. Farina - S. Farina - A. Farina) - 6:58
3.) Fingers On Fire (instrumental)   (A. Smith ) - 2:57
4.) Notcho Blues (instrumental)   (Danny Gatton) - 7:





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Blazing Telecasters

Company: Powerhouse

Catalog: P-108

Country/State: Washington, DC

Year: 1990

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6065

Price: $30.00


With Gatton signing to a major label, it was only natural that the market would see a flood of Gatton material. One of the first to appear was "Blazing Telecasters". Originally recorded during an April 1984 concert at Washington D.C.'s Adams Rib restaurant, the set was actually a full blown collaboration with Washington guitarist Tom Principato (another act well worth checking out). A largely instrumental set, there was no doubting the duo's technical chops, but with a couple of exceptions ("Been 'n Gone" and the pretty "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"), the set didn't really click for us.

"Blazing Telecasters" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Honey Hush (Talkin' Woman) (Washington - Fulson) - 10:39
2.) Blue Mood (Tom Principato) - 3:20
3.) Quiet Village (Les Baxter) - 11:30
4.) Cherokee (instrumental) (Noble) - 5:40


(side 2)
1.) If You Only Knew (instrumental) (Tom Principato) - 6:53
2.) Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (instrumental) (Bob Dylan) - 6:09
3.) Been 'n Gone (Tom Principato) - 6:17