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Guitar Heroes: James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett, David Wilcox


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Four Telecaster Masters shake up the rock and roll universe on Guitar Heroes, a historic new Stony Plain release

Four legendary guitarists. Together. One festival stage. One night only. The sound engineer presses “record.”

Guitar history was made on July 12, 2013. And now everyone can be part of it.

Getting the “Telecaster Masters” — James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and David Wilcox — together was the idea of Doug Cox, artistic director of the Vancouver Island MusicFest. And as Albert Lee put it: “Welcome to my dream!”

Stony Plain releases Guitar Heroes on May 4 — a sterling collection of 11 killer songs rooted in blues, rockabilly, good ol’ rock and roll and a touch of country.

Putting four superb players on stage could have turned into what Keith Richards might have called “a guitar wank.” Instead the quartet revisited classic songs with powerful musicianship, good taste, camaraderie and mutual respect. With the support of Albert Lee’s band, everyone felt that this was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion where guitar history was being made.

Guitar Heroes is a powerful live recording. No editing, no overdubs, and no “fixing.” What you hear is what the awestruck audience heard that magical night: four legendary guitarists, together.

James Burton

James Burton is the senior member of the quartet of astonishing guitarists you can hear on Guitar Heroes.

You want credits? At 14 years old, James Burton was a member of the house band at the Louisiana Hayride radio show; he was 17 when he provided the guitar hook that “made” the massive 1957 Dale Hawkins hit, “Susie Q.” Then, still in his teens, he moved to Los Angeles to be a member of Ricky Nelson’s band; he stayed for 11 years, and then joined Elvis Presley in Las Vegas in 1968.  He put the TCB band together for Elvis, and was by his side on stage for nine years until the King died in 1977.

More? Touring with Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, working with John Denver for 17 years and 11 albums. Burton’s decades of session work includes recordings with the Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Buffalo Springfield, Harry Nilsson, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt. And between sessions, more than thirty years of tours, concerts, and television specials with Gram Parsons, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison and dozens more.

Yes, he’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Keith Richards did the induction speech). Now 75, he’s based in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he began his career — but still relishes the opportunity to collaborate with other players.

Albert Lee

Born in England, Lee started playing piano when he was seven, but found the guitar in his early teens — and quit school at 16 to play full time. He’s not looked back since, but he still remembers playing on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn at the same time The Beatles were performing down the street.

With Jerry Reed, Scotty Moore, and James Burton as major influences, he started playing with Chris Farlowe’s R&B group, but soon left to play country music. With Heads Hands and Feet — an enormously popular live band in the UK — he cut half a dozen LPs and earned his “guitar hero” stripes for the breakneck speed and the clarity of his playing.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1974 he joined The Crickets (formerly Buddy Holly’s band), and two years later replaced James Burton in Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band (Burton had left to rejoin Elvis Presley); Lee then played with Eric Clapton for six years. And as if this career resume wasn’t enough, he helped put together The Everly Brothers’ reunion concert in 1983, and played regularly with them for more than 20 years, returning to the UK in between tours to play with Hogan’s Heroes and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.

Self-effacing, and still speaking with a London accent, he is renowned among musicians. Perhaps Clapton said it best: “He plays like a jazz musician but with country scales, like Django, but with a bluegrass past.”

Amos Garrett

Sometimes to his chagrin, Amos Garrett is best known for his remarkable guitar solo on Maria Muldaur’s hit “Midnight at the Oasis.” And that is an achievement, but it’s only a tiny element of a career that has caught the attention of his fellow musicians and guitar fans the world over.

He may not be in the public eye like, say, Stevie Wonder or Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris or even Anne Murray (and he’s recorded with all of ‘em, and almost 200 more). He’s not a high-energy performer with a lot of flash, but his tone and his multiple string-bending style are instantly recognizable.

Born in the United States, raised in Toronto and a long-time resident of Alberta, he likes to stay close to home and good fishing. Steeped in folk, country, blues and jazz, his musical tastes are as varied as the musicians he plays with.

His long history, first with folk groups such as The Dirty Shames and Ian & Sylvia and then with The Great Speckled Bird, Geoff and Maria Muldaur and  Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, continues with this recording. It’s the latest evidence of his recording career with Stony Plain, where he’s been part of close to a dozen albums for the label, and earned a Juno for a collaboration with pianist Gene Taylor and the late Doug Sahm.

David Wilcox

David Wilcox — in Canada — may well be the best-known member of the Guitar Heroes cast of players. His early Canadian hits (“Hypnotizin’ Boogie,” “Riverboat Fantasy,” “Do the Bearcat” and “Bad Apple,” the latter reprised on Guitar Heroes) have been staples on rock radio north of the border since his debut record in 1977. He remains, however, almost unknown in the United States — which might change when guitar fans hear his contribution to this recording.

Montreal-born, but raised in Toronto, he discovered Elvis when he was six, and got his first acoustic guitar when he was 10 — and played his first gig when he was 12.

His first major break came when Ian Tyson chose him to replace Amos Garrett in The Great Speckled Bird and work in the house band for Tyson’s television series, Nashville North.

After a short lived duo with Leon Redbone his solo career began as the eccentric, baggy-suited, waxed-moustachioed, rose-wearing leader of his band, The Teddy Bears. His reputation as one of the most unpredictable, powerful live performers has made him one of the most popular artists in Canada for more than 30 years.

Wilcox has made three startling records for Stony Plain, full of unusual original songs and surprising revivals of old and new blues. His contribution to Guitar Heroes is every bit as remarkable as those of his colleagues.

The Fender Telecaster

Leo Fender developed the first Telecaster solid-body electric guitar in 1950, working out of his electronics repair shop in Fullerton, California. It has since become the standard instrument for both blues and country players — revered for its ability to produce bright, rich, cutting tones (the typical telecaster “twang”) or mellow, warm, bluesy tones depending on which kind of pickup is used.

Guitar Heroes

Guitar Heroes
SPCD 1381
Genre: Blues
Released: 5 May 2015
Call +1 (905) 690 9397 to purchase
Get it on iTunes

Also available on 180g vinyl, with digital download card. Get the LP at:

Four Telecaster Masters — James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and David Wilcox — shake up the rock and roll universe on this historic release, a recording from July 12, 2013 when these Guitar Heroes performed together at the Vancouver Island MusicFest.

Rooted in blues and rockabilly influences, these four legends have shaped, and changed the sound of popular music since the mid-1950s.

The musicianship, good taste, camaraderie, respect and experience on stage that night made guitar history.

  1. That's All Right (Mama) (5:18)
  2. Susie Q (5:26)
  3. Sleep Walk (4:13)
  4. Leave My Woman Alone (7:39)
  5. You're The One (7:57)
  6. Comin' Home Baby (4:32)
  7. Flip, Flop & Fly (4:32)
  8. Only The Young (6:15)
  9. Polk Salad Annie (5:44)
  10. Bad Apple (6:29)
  11. Country Boy (5:54)
Please call +1 (905) 690 9397 to purchase CDs
Get it on iTunes


Living Blues
By Robert H. Cataliotti
"Their playing is technically dazzling, but tasteful restraint, flawless execution and dynamic interplay rule the day."
Please call +1 (905) 690 9397 to purchase CDs
Get it on iTunes