Electric guitar pioneer and jazz guitar great George Barnes was a brilliant, innovative,consummate musician whose influential career spanned 44 years.

Born in South Chicago Heights, Illinois in 1921, Barnes began studying piano at the age of 5; he was 10 when his father lost everything in the Great Depression, and George took up the guitar. Two years later, he got his union card and was hired for gigs that helped his parents pay the rent. He achieved his first national exposure at 16, when he won the Tommy Dorsey Amateur Swing Contest -- the same year he became the first electric guitarist to record commercially, at the age of 16, with such blues greats as Big Bill Broonzy and Blind John Davis.

When he turned 17, he was called to join the staff of the NBC Orchestra in Chicago, where he made his name as a featured guitarist on two national radio programs: National Barn Dance and Plantation Party. By the time he was 25, he had his own popular radio show on ABC Radio, and became just as well known across the country as a composer and arranger for his exceptional group, The George Barnes Octet.

In 1951, he moved to New York City, where he earned a living in the studios, making hundreds of recordings with the most famous artists of the 50's and 60's: Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Little Anthony & The Imperials. The Three Suns, The Four Seasons, The Coasters. Perry Como, The Mills Brothers, The McGuire Sisters. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington. Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vinton. Connie Francis, Brenda Lee. Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong. Buddy Holly, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan.

But true satisfaction came from playing and recording his own music; he made dozens of critically acclaimed albums under his own name, and in partnerships with other jazz greats: Carl Kress, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Ruby Braff.

Throughout his life, Barnes continually explored his instrument, inspiring countless guitarists -- from Chet Atkins to George Benson to Larry Coryell to John Pizzarelli -- with his inventive facility and his indisputably identifiable sound. His indelible influence on American popular music -- from 30's blues to 40's swing to 50's & 60's rock and country, and jazz throughout, until his untimely death in 1977 -- still brings new generations of musicians and music lovers to his undeniable excellence.

Barnes, George

Items 1-2 of 2
Barnes, George - Guitar In Velvet - LP
Price: $12.49
Retail: $24.98
Availability: In Stock
Item #: LP-MH-8096 -

    • FIRST EVER REISSUE FROM THIS JAZZ GUITAR GREAT! • FEATURING NEW LINER NOTES FROM GEORGE’S DAUGHTER! • PRESSED ON BLUE VINYL! Plush textures woven by a true guitar master! This luxurious collection features virtuoso Barnes and his Octet at their sophisticated best, in a dozen pieces that highlight Barnes’ matchless technique, impressive innovations, and superb arrangements that explore the full range of musical emotions, in this first-ever reissue of a brilliant jazz classic. After his...

    Barnes, George - Country Jazz - LP
    Price: $19.98
    Retail: $24.98
    Availability: In Stock
    Item #: LP-MH-8009 -

      A lifetime of lessons in six-string-guitar-swing! Jazz-meets-country in an impossibly hot session, ca. 1959! A platter of lightning-fast picking and impeccable taste from the legendary George Barnes! The description on the back of the original album reads: "A wonderful collection of Western favorites that everyone will love--and played in the traditional Western style." The front cover features a more accurate explanation: "Great guitar solos in modern country jazz style -- as if "modern...