Gary Lucas: Ignoring Genre Divisions

Other Musical Heroes



Gary Lucas
Interview Excerpt #4


FRANK J. OTERI: Now in those formative years, who would you say were your other musical heroes?

GARY LUCAS: Well, certainly, I loved early British invasion music.

FRANK J. OTERI: Like the Kinks?

GARY LUCAS: Oh yeah. I think I was one of the first people to ever hear The Who. My uncle was a rock promoter in Rochester and brought The Who to play on a package bill before Tommy. I love the Yardbirds. As far as guitarists go, I mentioned Duane Eddy, but Jeff Beck was my idol of the ’60’s, also Jimmy Page, and, of course, Clapton. But to me Beck was my favorite – he had a real sense of humor that he translated on the guitar which I hope I have incorporated in my playing as well. And I liked more a little bit of the more obscure players of late ’60’s like Syd Barrett who was Pink Floyd‘s visionary guitarist and main song writer in their first albums. I loved this guy named David O’List who played in the Nice. I think he was amazing. And then of course all the country blues players such as Son House, Skip James

FRANK J. OTERI: You have an homage to Robert Johnson on one of your albums, it’s really fantastic.

GARY LUCAS: I liked all this music, and I first heard it actually because I loved Captain Beefheart‘s music. I’d been hearing the British take on the blues without investigating the origins of it, and later, joining Beefheart’s band, it sent me back into really immersing myself in country blues and Chicago blues styles. And I heard the antecedents to the British blues players that I loved. And I have to also mention Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac. I think he’s one of the best, all around, blues players that I’d ever heard….

FRANK J. OTERI: One thing I was hearing, I don’t know what you’d think of this combination of influences, but I guess it was it was your first solo album that I was listening to very early this morning, and I was listening to this great instrumental track and I thought it had the technical proficiency, and structural clarity of Robert Fripp with the looseness and easiness of Jerry Garcia combined.

GARY LUCAS: I definitely appreciate the playing of both of those figures. After a while I stopped listening to the original players, to try to use whatever influences I already soaked up and hopefully, continue to forge in my own voice. To me Fripp is a fantastic player, but he’s always tight, he gets a little bit too anal retentive for me to listen to a lot. Jerry Garcia is a great player in his open, free wheeling style. But overall, I’m not really one of those stoned out Deadheads who followed the band. I liked a few moments of their records, and that was it. There weren’t that many groups that have been able to sustain themselves for me to play more than a couple of records.

FRANK J. OTERI: Now you mentioned Zappa at some point.

GARY LUCAS: Yeah, I really loved the early Zappa up to about Hot Rats. And then when he go into the riffing jam albums to fusiony albums after that, or the really puerile social satire albums, he lost it for me.

FRANK J. OTERI: My favorite will always be We’re Only In It For The Money.

GARY LUCAS: I love that. That’s a classic album! Such a unified statement… I think he had moments that I would hear, but I didn’t really pursue him as a fan, I didn’t slavishly go out and buy the records. And then the guy put out about 80 records. I’m sure they are all high quality, but I don’t have the time or the patience to absorb so much music when I’m trying to make my own music or think about the world. I mean, God bless people who are so obsessive… for myself I think that maybe of all the groups, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles had the highest number of quality records that you could really listen and which would stand out and stand the test of time.