Well, I finally had the honor of kicking off my upcoming “Slide Guitar Summit” album and documentary by doing a burning version of the great tune “Rocket 88” with none other than the great Johnny Winter himself! We cut the rhythm track that morning, and later in the evening Johnny came right in ready to go with his trusty Gibson Firebird, and I was armed with my new ’57 VOS goldtop, and various other slide guitar possibilities!
It was really one of those magic “moments in time”, and thank goodness it was well-captured by two film crews and several still photographers! Jeez, it felt like it was one of the most heavily recorded moments in history!! Certainly no shortage of documentation! Johnny and I started off by just getting to say hello and share some stories. I got to tell him how I was in the very front of the stage during his performance at Woodstock, and how I was there keeping everyone from getting shocked by the shorted out wires that were right there in front, while everyone was barefoot in the deep mud!
Then we got to talk about some of our mutual favorite slide players over the years, and we discussed Tampa Red, Son House, Robert Johnson, Elmore James and many more greats! His knowledge of the history of slide guitar was wonderful, and we really both got loosened up by talking about all these great players we both loved! Johnny was also going to do a version of “Death Letter Blues”, the Son House classic later on in the evening for the documentary that was also being shot on Johnny’s life!
So after we cut the rhythm track, we simply put that historic Firebird I his hands, and off we went! He blew through that tune in no time, and he did an amazing job! I have always loved Johnny’s “high energy” approach to slide, and I felt that this song, one I have done for many years, would be a perfect slide “extravaganza” for the both of us to sink our teeth into!! (and boy, was it ever!)
So there you have it…my “Slide Guitar Summit” album got to “blast off” into space with a killer rendition of “Rocket 88” with one of my all-time slide guitar heroes, Johnny Winter! John was a true gentleman, and it was such an honor to finally get a chance to play with him……a true musical highlight of my life, and what a way to start an album!!!
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.