By Dave Good
Arguably one of the most influential acoustic guitarists of the last three decades, Earl Klugh, who turns 55 this year, has just released his 32nd album, The Spice of Life. The GRAMMY Award winner's soulfully distinctive trademark sound, along with 32 years of performing and recording, have made him a favorite with fans around the world.
With the release of his self-titled debut album in 1976, Klugh became one of the founding fathers of the “first wave,” a movement in contemporary music that would ultimately be called smooth jazz.
“I thought it was a good, healthy change in music,” he said of that era via telephone from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. “There was a real movement. Bob James was popular, Grover [Washington] was popular, David Sanborn was going strong. You know, it was a whole little movement,” he said.
From day one, Klugh was a hot commodity. His initial record sales were so strong that his label pushed him to release two more albums for a total of three releases within a 12-month period, a feat that is unheard of in today's record industry climate.
“When I released my first record I really didn't know what was going to happen. I just felt so fortunate and blessed to be able to make records. It kind of evolved pretty fast in the beginning so that by the time I was on to my third record, Finger Painting, there was a lot of commercial success going on for me as well as a lot of radio play.”
Essentially a self-taught musician, Klugh learned to play on--and came to prefer--a classical-style guitar, a relative rarity among jazz guitarists in those years. Even though classical is still his guitar of choice, he has never let it limit his musical direction. From early on, he listened to Chet Atkins, copped licks from Wes Montgomery records, absorbed Latin stylings and studied fingerstyle. Still, it was his interest in classical guitar that landed the Detroit native his first brush with fame.
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For more information on Klugh, including his complete tour schedule, visit www.earlklugh.com.
94.7 The WAVE's Summer Jazz Series at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
1107 Jamboree Road
Newport Beach, California
Jazz on the River, Russian River Jazz Festival
Intersection of River Road and Hwy. 116
March 26-28, 2009
Earl Klugh's Weekend of Jazz
1 Lake Ave.
Colorado Springs, Colorado