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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michhill8
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Post by michhill8 » May 4th, 2005, 8:21 am

Dave Grohl didn't seriously start playing guitar until around the time nirvan broke up. I know he's not the most skilled player, but he put out the foo fighters first album in about a year or so after nirvana and he's pretty famous.

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Post by MattyPretends116 » May 4th, 2005, 2:14 pm

Cnev's right, lots of bands play together for a while, even before they get noticed. There's that whole paying your dues period of 4-5 years, even if you are indeed destined to get signed and sell out Madison Square Garden. Being older just seems to make it longer/reduce the chances of you being noticed.

I'm 23, and have no illusions about getting famous. Lots of people like my playing (I'm not being boastful, I'm not that great....most serious players can run circles around me), but I'm not going to get delusions of grandeur like a pal of mine who just started playing an instument at 22. I've been playing for close to 6 years, which is a drop in a very very large ocean. But I'm going to try to put a band together, find a singer, and play around boston hopefully for a couple years. Why? Because playing in college was lots and lots of fun! Sure, it would be great to be the next Slash or Joe Perry, but you can't count on it. There's always someone better, and these days it seems like talent is less an less of a factor in popular music. :wink:

My 5.89 cents.
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Post by pops22br » May 4th, 2005, 2:57 pm

First of all, I would like to say that I was watching the news one evening and they had a piece on indie bands. One of the bands was fronted by a former school teacher whom had decided that it was time to do something that really excited him. I believe he started his band when he was around 38.

I have heard another story about an aid to the ruler of China who, now retired at 90 years young learned to use a laptop, and practices his calligraphy on his palmpilot. ---- 90 years!!!!!

Somewhat unrelated, but...

I the book "The Mozart Effect" there is a stroy of an accomplished pianist whois practically crippled with arthritis. He sits down at his piano daily to enjoy tickling the ivories. After about a minute of playing his hands open up and he is able to play quite fluidly.

Do what you need to do but most of all, find the way that you enjoy playing the guitar, i.e. jamming with friends is my favorite part of playing. If you keep doing what you enjoy and continually seek to become better you can exceed just about everybody's expectations, good or not.

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cnev
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Post by cnev » May 5th, 2005, 7:11 am

pops,

I don't doubt that but that's why he's fronting an Indie band and probably will never be known by the masses, getting famous means getting people to notice you and unless you have a huge marketing machine (like a major label) your never gonna get famous.

That doesn't have anything to do with the fact that this guy might be the best guitarist around.

Dave Grohl is a unigue situation because he already was in a band that was pretty well known and had the major label marketing behind him before he started playing guitar. It's more like he's a famous person that now happens to play guitar, the guitar didn't make him famous/successful.

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Post by pops22br » May 5th, 2005, 3:44 pm

You have to start somewhere. Also, aren't all beginning bands indie bands? When they have yet to be discovered by a major label?

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cnev
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Post by cnev » May 6th, 2005, 4:03 am

Probably alot are but not all. some get signed right away, but 99% never make pat the Indie stage, they just don't have what the reord companies are "looking" for. It's so much more than just the music and in some cases the music isn't even close to being the most important thing.

Well this post started out asking if there were any famous guitarists that started late and the few people that were listed started in their late teens early 20's...I wouldn't call that old.

So in my personal opinion if your starting past twenty (and I mean just touching a guitar) the chances of becoming famous are slim and none.

But I think most everyone that plays an instrument does it for the personal enjoyment/love of music.

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Post by NoteBoat » May 6th, 2005, 4:50 am

in some cases the music isn't even close to being the most important thing
It's never the most important thing. And I'm eventually going to tie this back to the original topic, really :)

Record companies are not in the business of finding 'good' music - they are in the business of selling music people want. If your personal tastes aren't those of the masses, then there's not a lot of 'good' music available.

99% of the bands that are Indie stay that way, because their music doesn't sell. That's the only yardstick a record company uses, ever. They'll talk about 'artist development' and the need for finding music that's 'different'... but it's just talk. They have shareholders who expect a return on their investment, and they'd better provide one.

The way to make money in any business is to sell your product or service, and that means understanding what the buyers value. The only people in the music business who place music as the most important value are musicians!

Record companies: want records that sell

Club owners: want people to come in and drink. If music does that, great - if pinball machines do it better, out goes the band.

Happy brides: want people to have fun. If dancing to a great band does it, they get a band... otherwise they'll play Twister or Charades instead.

Concert promoters: want to sell tickets. If your style of music won't fill the hall - or at least go above the break-even point - you're not going to be booked.

Managers and booking agents: want a product they can sell. If you can't interest one of the above buyers, they're not interested.

So... 'famous' guitarists are those you've heard of, which means they're a monetary success. If you can sell yourself, you can be successful even in the absence of ability, and you too can become a famous guitarist!

Age, skill, appearance, equipment - it's all secondary to succesfully marketing yourself, or convincing others to successfully market you.

If you want to be a skilled guitarist, that takes a lot of work. Younger people have more hours available (both on a daily basis and in their lives as a whole), so they have an edge. But if youth was all it took, every young guitarist would be famous.

If you want to play, play. If you want to be good at it, work hard at it. But if you want to be famous, figure out what that takes, and develop those skills. If people find you entertaining, they don't care if you're 'old'.

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cnev
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Post by cnev » May 6th, 2005, 5:44 am

Noteboat,

I agree 100%.

But can anyone name one person that first touched a guitar after the age of 30 that became famous.

I don't know or heard of any. It doesn't count if you've been playing for years and then made it big after the age of 30, I mean literally starting after the age of 30 for the first time.

I'd say the chances are next to none. But anything is possible.

Since older players seem to be accepted to the masses more on the country music side I was thinking I might start a new genre of music, you know something like country/nu-metal/rap and try to make it.

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MattyPretends116
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Post by MattyPretends116 » May 6th, 2005, 11:37 am

cnev wrote: Since older players seem to be accepted to the masses more on the country music side I was thinking I might start a new genre of music, you know something like country/nu-metal/rap and try to make it.
Now THATS what I call music! Talk about an idea with entertainment value! Throw Eminem in some buckskin chaps and a ten gallon and you'll book comedy central for at least a week. :D :D :D
"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:

brothertupelo

Post by brothertupelo » May 6th, 2005, 12:32 pm

kid rock sucks

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NoteBoat
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Post by NoteBoat » May 6th, 2005, 3:55 pm

Austin guitarist Jason Bayles started at 29.

A guitarist named Andrew Norblin released his first CD a couple years ago. He was 59 when it came out.

Neither one is a household name, I'll grant that. But millions of YOUNG guitar players aren't either.

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Post by yoyo286 » May 7th, 2005, 6:00 am

Rush2112 wrote:I'm eighteen and just started. And two of the greatest guitarists that haven't been mentioned yet, joe walsh and jimmy page, both started in college I believe. But you can be much older and start and become great. Ever heard of Grandma Moses?
I don'y know about Joe Walsh, but Jimmy Page got his first guitar at 13, a little classical one. 8)
Stairway to Freebird!

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cnev
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Post by cnev » May 9th, 2005, 11:39 am

But Note did these guys first touch a guitar at 29 and 59? or did they just cut CD's out at that age after years of playing.

And neither would make the "famous" category. Which to me means they need to be recognized by the masses, which I doubt these two are.

I still don't know of one guitarist that literally started playing at 30 or more and became famous it just doesn't happen for all the reasons you wrote earlier, it's not really about the music it's about marketing and making money and the record companies generally aren't gonna back some 30 something guy just starting. Not saying it's impossible just highly unlikely.

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Post by NoteBoat » May 9th, 2005, 1:21 pm

Bayles really did start playing at 29. Norbin had played as a kid, and returned to music much later in life.

No question there's an age perception in pop music. A recent Craigslist ad in Chicago, which I'd love to quote exactly - except they've taken it down (probably realized how idiotic it sounded) - was from some 'producer' who was looking for an artist with 'Grammy potential'. It went on to say something like "ages 18-23 only (sorry, industry)".

Looking over the most recent list of Grammy winners, I see the following names:

Luther Vandross (54)
Sting (53)
George Harrison (would have been 62)
Ry Cooder (58 )
Manuel Galban (74)
Tony Bennett (78 )
k.d. lang (43)
Warren Zevon (would have been 58 )
Bruce Springsteen (55)
Jeff Beck (60)
Aretha Franklin (63)
June Carter Cash (would have been 75)
Vince Gill (48 )
Ricky Skaggs (50)
James Taylor (57)
Alan Jackson (46)
Jimmy Buffett (58 )
Pat Metheny (50)
Randy Brecker (59)
Dianne Reeves (48 )
Chick Corea (63)
Wayne Shorter (71)
Michael Brecker (56)

there's more - I didn't even get halfway through the awards list.

My point is this: they don't check IDs at the door; they listen to what you have to say. If you believe you're too old, you probably are - but it's probably just because you're using the excuse that you're too old.

Bleu Edmondson started learning guitar at the age of 21 (in 1997). Not too long ago... but long enough that he's got four CDs out now, the first two released before he'd been playing for three years.

Or look at the San Francisco band the Quails... drummer Juliana Bright started playing at 25, and guitarist Jen Smith started at 21. Didn't stop them from releasing a couple albums.

Rick Rizzo, guitarist with Eleventh Dream Day, started at age 19 or 20... ten albums later, he's doing ok.

Then there's the late Compay Segundo - he played clarinet as a kid, and started guitar sometime around his late twenties. He spent his career as a cigar roller in Havana, playing guitar once in a while... he was 81 when Ry Cooder 'discovered' him and made him famous, and 90 when he won a Grammy.

Edit: to remove the smiley faces with sunglasses when (58 ) becomes (58)

missileman

Post by missileman » May 9th, 2005, 1:42 pm

What is escaping me is the term FAMOUS.
Many of the people mentioned in this thread I never heard of so that means they are not famous to me.
I can name people that I consider famous and you may not be familiar with them.
I can be famous in my own town but not any farther.
Scott Tennant is from my area and has won numerous awards for his classical music. Have you heard of him?Does that make him famous?He is to me.
I suppose what I am saying is there are large amounts of famous guitar players out there and any number of them that started late in life, it all depends on your perspective.

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