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Roy Buchanan



Roy Buchanan was born in Ozark (Franklin County),
and is a favorite among guitar players. Early on,
he played in the bands of Ronnie Hawkins and Dale
Hawkins (the cousins would often steal one another's
bandmates), but mostly with Dale, with whom he
recorded. Here's Arkansan Levon Helm's acount of
Buchanan's tenure as a Hawk with Ronnie: "For a
short time, Fred [Carter Jr., who, yes, had played
in Dale's band] was replaced by Roy Buchanan, a
brilliant and moody player who definitely had his
own mystique. He had a beatnik look, complete with
goatee, which both Ronnie and I adopted for a while.
Roy had strange eyes, didn't talk to anyone, and
looked real fierce. Ronnie always reminded us to
smile, move and dance when we played. We had to
look like we were having a better time than 
anybody. ... Not Roy. He didn't believe in putting 
on a show. He just stod there and played the shit 
out of that guitar. ... We loved how good Roy was, 
but he was too weird for the Hawk. One night Roy 
tried to convince us that he was a werewolf and 
destined to marry a nun. Not long after that, 
Robbie [Robertson] took over the lead guitar."

Later, however, in 1961, the Hawk arranged a 'showdown' 
between the two guitarists. Here, Helm continues the 
narrative: "Robbie had actually learned a lot from Roy, 
whose technical accomplishments as a blues guitarist 
were without peer back then. Once I asked him where he 
learned to play so good and he said in all seriousness 
he was half wolf."

In the 1970s, Buchanan was the subject of a PBS 
documentary called "The Best Unknown Guitarist in 
the World," and was among those considered to join 
the Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor left -- he 
claimed he turned them down. Although Buchanan 
released several albums on major labels, with 
star support like Stanley Clarke, he never found 
much commercial success. Buchanan continued to 
tour and record, and he opened up for Helm and 
the reformed Band in 1987 (with, ironically, 
Fred Carter Jr. playing guitar in The Band). 
In 1988, Buchanan hung himself in jail following 
a domestic disturbance. He was the father of seven.
 

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