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Prince performs during half-time for Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts at Dolphin Stadium on February 4, 2007 in Miami.

Three Famous Self-Taught Guitarists

  To become really good at something, you need some formal training first, right? Well…history tells a different story. When it comes to guitar, some of the most influential musicians of the last 60 years never had a single lesson. Ever. Of course, this is definitely not a plug against formal lessons—they’re a great resource, and often give students the confidence and tools to move forward not only in music, but in many other pursuits in life. That said, you might be surprised to learn who found their own way with the guitar—and in many ways, revolutionized the world of music as a result.  


[ezcol_1third]  [caption id="attachment_581" align="alignleft" width="246"] a stamp issued to honor legendary guitarist and musician Jimi Hendrix. a stamp issued to honor legendary guitarist and musician Jimi Hendrix.[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]Arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “James” was too poor as a child to own a guitar. In grade school, he carried a broomstick around and pretended to play it. The school social worker attempted to find funding for a guitar for “James”, but was unsuccessful.  In 1957, he found a used ukulele that had only one string, which he played using single notes and following along to Elvis songs. He bought his first guitar in 1961 for $5 at the age of 15. How he changed music:  Hendrix was influenced by American Rock n Roll and electric blues.  He single-handedly popularized the wah-wah pedal, was the first to use stereophonic phasing effects, and brought guitar amplifier feedback into the mainstream—something that was previously seen as undesirable [/ezcol_2third_end]  


  [ezcol_2third] An English guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Clapton is the only musician in history to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame THREE times. The child of a broken marriage, Clapton received an acoustic Hoyer guitar from his grandparents for his thirteenth birthday. He didn’t get serious about it until he was 15, at which point he began practicing long hours to learn blues chords.  By 16, he was gaining some local acclaim, and joined his first band at age 17. How he changed music:  Influenced heavily by B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and most importantly Robert Johnson, Clapton himself became one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. He in many ways revolutionized how the electric guitars were used, creating a softness and subtly with his Gibson SG that he referred to as “woman tone”.[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end] [caption id="attachment_582" align="alignright" width="246"]London. UK. Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall. 25th May 2006. London. UK. Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall. 25th May 2006.[/caption] [/ezcol_1third_end]  


  [ezcol_1third] [caption id="attachment_583" align="alignright" width="246"]Prince performs behind a curtain, in silhouette, during half-time of Super Bowl XL Prince performs behind a curtain, in silhouette, during half-time of Super Bowl XL[/caption] [/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]  Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince wrote his first song at the tender age of seven. His first demo-tapes were recorded at age seventeen. His 1979 album went platinum due to the success of the singles "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover". How he changed music:  A multi-instrumentalist who plays keyboards, drums, saxophone, and many more, Prince is thought to be the biggest influence on modern music today.   Sampled in everything from Pop to Hip Hop today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “Self-produced since his debut at age 20…and one of the most unpredictable as well as one of the most magnificently charismatic figures in the entire pop landscape. His fusion of rock, funk, soul, metal and punk has defied all stereotypes.”[/ezcol_2third_end]  
  Amazingly, these musicians were self-taught mainly because they didn’t have another option. Yet their tenacity and perseverance ended up taking them much farther than many musicians who came before them—and perhaps had advantages they did not. This is the essence of the idea behind our donation program Far Out Fridays. , which donates a guitar to a child in need for every guitar we sell on a Friday. Learn more about how BohoGuitars works to bring music to underprivileged families—and how you can help make a difference, too.


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