Any famous guitarists that learned to play late in life?

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
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NoteBoat
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Post by NoteBoat » April 22nd, 2005, 10:32 am

This is from "Music, Development, Aging and the Brain -
It's Never Too Late for Music"
Copyright © 1996 Norman M. Weinberger

"Is it too late to gain musical understanding and the enjoyment of performance at an advanced age, much less between the ages of e.g., 18-60? There is no evidence of such a limitation, with the caveat that one has to match physical abilities to demands of the selected instrument. On the contrary, music experience and music lessons have repeatedly been shown to be successful and have many psychological and social benefits.

"A well known case in point (but apparently not well enough known to many article writers) is the New Horizons Band started by Dr. Roy Ernst, Chairman of he Department of Music Education at the renowned Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Dr. Ernst has formed a band comprised largely of adults between the ages of about 60 to 85, the majority of whom never had previous music lessons. With instruction and encouragement, the New Horizons Band has achieved excellence in performance, not to mention the great pleasure and happiness afforded both its members and audiences. "

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Wes Inman
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Post by Wes Inman » April 22nd, 2005, 11:19 am

Age has nothing to do with how well you play guitar.

More than any other factor the amount of time you spend practicing and the quality of your practice will determine how quickly you get good or even great. Some people have a little more natural talent than others, but perserverence is the best quality you can have. And that is an attitude that anyone is capable of.

I read once that George Harrison of the Beatles was not a "natural" on guitar. It came very hard for him. But he just kept practicing and wouldn't give up. It was said he could be seen walking the streets of Liverpool playing his guitar. This was not to show off. He just practiced as much and often as he could. And IMHO he became one of the greatest players ever, way underrated. His playing was pristine.

Young people do have the advantage in getting to a good level of ability in time to get in a group and being discovered by the music industry. The music industry is looking for young people who they can market. This gives many people a false impression. They believe only someone who started young can become a great player. Nothing can be further than the truth. There are many truly great players who the music industry overlooks simply because they are older.

All I can say is I play guitar much better than I did when I was 18. I play better than I did 10 or even 5 years ago.

Outside of Rock, age is respected. Jazz players say you don't even start getting good until your 40's. Country players play into their 60's, 70's, and even 80's. Grampa Jones, the famous banjo player played at the Grand Ole Opry in his 80's.

So, if you want to be good on guitar just Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

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Post by tahitiijack » April 24th, 2005, 6:30 pm

Former Jefferson Starship lead guitarist, now smooth jazz/new age guitarist Craig Chaquico had a problem with his hands a couple of years ago and had to relearn to play. He has since recorded a new cd and been on tour. I think Jeff Golb had a carpal tunnel and had to stop playing for several years.
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NoteBoat
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Post by NoteBoat » April 24th, 2005, 8:06 pm

Add Leo Kottke to the list of re-learners. After a serious bout of carpal tunnel (or something along those lines) he changed his technique from scratch, studying and emulating classical guitarists.

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MattyPretends116
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Post by MattyPretends116 » April 24th, 2005, 8:24 pm

Yep I agree with all of the above posts. Age is a limitation in terms of marketing, but not talent. Even then, as much talent as you could have, you can't count on making it. There is a local band where I live who were signed to Universal records, the major of major labels, for a year or two and then got dropped. The guitarist, Nick Goodale, was named one of the new guitar heros by Guitar World at 18 or 19 - he's just sick - but they simply got dropped because their record didn't do well nationally. The thing is, they write great songs, are awesome live, the whole package, but they are southern rock which isn't a mainstream thing right now. Its all glam pop and nu-metal. So here you have a band that deserves just as much as the next guy to make it big, but the music genres just aren't meshing with them.

Talent, it seems, is only a (very) small part of the picture. But you can love music, play in a band or whatever, even if you never sell out the Garden. :D
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spacedog03
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Post by spacedog03 » April 25th, 2005, 9:34 am

I think one of the reasons that there is the preconception that you have to start playing while young is that as you get into your late teens, 20's and beyond you have progressively less free time available to put in learning the basics, with greater school demands, maybe college, job, family etc. So while it is certainly not impossible it really becomes impracticle for most people, which is quite unfortunate.

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tinsmith
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Post by tinsmith » May 1st, 2005, 6:14 pm

sirN wrote:I'd swear that I read an interview in which Frank Zappa claims to have started around 18 years of age.
That what I remember too.....from many years ago.

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Taso
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Post by Taso » May 2nd, 2005, 1:20 pm

Actually yeah, clapton started at 16, but he said he played for years non stop..wouldnt go out drinking on the weekends even.

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Cubone
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Post by Cubone » May 2nd, 2005, 3:28 pm

I started playing when I was 24 (last year)

I'm not famous... yet. 8)
English is not my first language so I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

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Post by Shinzou » May 3rd, 2005, 8:00 am

Yngvie Malmsteen also had to relearn after he got into that accident and messed up his hands. I read he claims he's gotten better because of that. And I really think age only matters if you start something like piano, thats what i think anyways.
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Post by Musenfreund » May 3rd, 2005, 8:24 am

Taso wrote:Actually yeah, clapton started at 16, but he said he played for years non stop..wouldnt go out drinking on the weekends even.
It may be urban legend, but reportedly Clapton stated that he had to relearn guitar after coming out of his heroin addiction to play the Rainbow Concert.
Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon

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Post by cnev » May 3rd, 2005, 9:29 am

Having to relearn the guitar if your Yngvie or Clapton is totally different than it is for the rest of us learning for the first time.

So far everyone is pretty much right on, yes you can be a good player no matter what age you start as long as you put the time in, BUT, the chances of you becoming famous fades quickly once your past about 25.

There isn't much of a market for rock and roll stars just starting, of course if you were already famous when you were twenty then yes you can resurrect your career in your golden years, but stating old as a 30-40 yo player, you ain't gonna be famous.

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MattyPretends116
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Post by MattyPretends116 » May 3rd, 2005, 7:52 pm

cnev wrote:So far everyone is pretty much right on, yes you can be a good player no matter what age you start as long as you put the time in, BUT, the chances of you becoming famous fades quickly once your past about 25.
Steven Tyler didn't get signed until 26, didn't make it big till 28. 'Course, that was then, and he wasn't a guitar player. Eh you never know, though I definately agree its harder as you get older. I tend to think in terms of bands, and there are lots and lots of bands that don't get recognized till mid-late 20s at least. As an individual artist, that's another ballgame.
"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:

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cnev
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Post by cnev » May 4th, 2005, 3:42 am

Matty,

Your right but Tyler some of the bands your referring too may have only got signed in their mid twenties but they didn't start then. I don't know Tyler's musical history but I'm sure he was signing for years before he got noticed. That's alittle different then starting at 30 -40 and getting famous. There's very few of those situations.

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Post by kingpatzer » May 4th, 2005, 7:08 am

cnev wrote:Having to relearn the guitar if your Yngvie or Clapton is totally different than it is for the rest of us learning for the first time.

So far everyone is pretty much right on, yes you can be a good player no matter what age you start as long as you put the time in, BUT, the chances of you becoming famous fades quickly once your past about 25.

There isn't much of a market for rock and roll stars just starting, of course if you were already famous when you were twenty then yes you can resurrect your career in your golden years, but stating old as a 30-40 yo player, you ain't gonna be famous.
Well, not in Rock.

In Jazz and Blues most folks don't start getting good till you're 60 so there's still hope :0

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