Albert Collins (October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993) Albert Collins Biography by Richard Skeely. Allmusic Website. was an American electric blues guitarist and singer who forged a distinctive guitar style that was instantly recognizable. Collins was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title "The Master of the Telecaster"
Born in Leona, Texas, Collins was introduced to the guitar at an early age through his cousin Lightnin' Hopkins, also a Leona resident, who frequently played at family associations (reunions). In 1938 his family relocated to Marquez, Texas eventually settling in Houston, Texas in 1941 Blues Guitar (The Men Who Made The Music) - Guitar Player Magazine. Miller Freeman Books 1993 2nd Edition. ISBN 0-87930-292-5. p248 "...his family moved to Marquez, when he was six, and finally to Houston, when Albert was nine" where he later attended Jack_Yates_High_School|Jack Yates High School. Albert Collins - Vital Blues Guitar Series. Transcriptions: Richard DeVinck. Creative Concepts Publishing (California) 1994. ISBN 1-56922-047-6. p2 ''"Albert played a short stint as a guitarist in his mother's church before enrolling at Jack Yates High School..."'' Collins decided to learn to play guitar, aged 12, after hearing "Boogie Chillen'" by John Lee Hooker. At eighteen Collins started his own group called the Rhythm Rockers.
Collins started to play regularly in Houston most notably at Shady's Playhouse where James "Widemouth" Brown (brother of Gatemouth Brown) and other well-known Houston blues musicians would meet for the Blue Monday jams. Article: Come Go Home With Me (Tracing the Bayou City's Blues Legacy). Publication: The Austin Chronicle 30 May 2003. Retrieved 16 June 2013
Collins began recording in 1958 and released single (music)|singles, including many instrumentals such as the million selling "Frosty" (1962), on Texas-based labels such as Kangaroo and Hall-Way. A number of these singles were collected on the album The Cool Sounds Of Albert Collins on the TCF Hall label (later reissued on the Blue Thumb Records|Blue Thumb label as Truckin’ With Albert Collins.) In the spring of 1965 he moved to Kansas City, Missouri|Kansas City, Missouri and made a name for himself there. This was also where he met his future wife, Gwendolyn.
Many of Kansas City's recording studio s had closed by the mid-1960s. Unable to record, Collins moved to California in 1967. He lived in Palo Alto, California for a short time before moving to Los Angeles and played many of the West Coast of the United States|West Coast venues popular with the counter-culture. In early 1969 the group Canned Heat were in Houston to promote their latest album and a friend mentioned that Collins was playing at the Ponderosa Club which they duly attended. After Collins had finished playing they introduced themselves and offered to help secure an agent for him as well as an introduction to Liberty Records. Authors: Skip Taylor and Brett Lemke Published: 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2013. In appreciation, Collins' first album title, Love Can Be Found Anywhere, was taken from the lyrics of "Fried Hockey Boogie". Collins signed and released his first album on Imperial Records, a sister record label|label, in 1968.
Collins remained in California for another five years, and was popular on double-billed shows at The Fillmore and the Winterland. He was signed to Alligator Records in 1977 and recorded and released Ice Pickin. He would record seven more albums with the label, before being signed to Point Blank Records in 1990.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Collins toured the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He was becoming a popular blues musician and was an influence for Coco Montoya, Robert Cray, Gary Moore, Debbie Davies, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jonny Lang, Susan Tedeschi, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Mayer and Frank Zappa.
Collins won the award for Best Blues Album of the Year at the Blues Music Award|W. C. Handy Award in 1983 for his album ''Don't Lose Your Cool.
In 1985 Collins performed with George Thorogood|George Thorogood and the Destroyers at Live Aid appearing as guest soloist on "Madison Blues".
In 1986 Collins filmed a live concert from the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles with Etta James and Joe Walsh. ' Jazzvisions : Jump The Blues Away'. Backing musicians consisted of many top-flight players from LA: Rick Rosas (bass); Michael Huey (drums); Ed Sanford (B3); Kip Noble (piano); Josh Sklar (guitar).
In 1987, Collins made a cameo appearance in the film Adventures in Babysitting, he insisted to Elisabeth Shue that "nobody leaves this place without singin' the blues", forcing the children to improvise a song before escaping. In 1987, John Zorn enlisted him to play lead guitar in a suite he had composed especially for him, entitled "Two-Lane Highway," on Zorn's album Spillane (album)|Spillane . In 1987, he shared a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album|Grammy for the album Showdown! (released in 1986) which he recorded with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. The following year his solo release Cold Snap was also nominated for a Grammy.
Collins was invited to play at the 'Legends Of Guitar Festival' concerts in Seville, Spain at the Seville Expo '92|Expo in 1992, where amongst others, he played "Iceman", the title track from his final studio album.
He made his last visit to London, England in March 1993.
Death and legacy
After falling ill at a show in Switzerland in late July 1993, he was diagnosed in mid August with lung cancer which had metastasized to his liver, with an expected survival time of four months. Parts of his last album, ''Live '92/'93, were recorded at shows that September; he died shortly afterwards, in November at the age of 61. He was survived by his wife, Gwendolyn. . Correspondent Peter Watrous. Published 25 November 1993. Retrieved 16 June 2013. Albert Collins is buried at Davis Memorial Park, Las Vegas, Nevada. . Record added to site on 06 December 1999. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
Collins is remembered not only for the quantity of quality blues that he put out throughout his career that has inspired so many other blues musicians, but also for his live performances, where he would frequently come down from the stage, attached to his amplifier with a 100 foot cord, and mingle with the audience whilst still playing. He was known to leave clubs while still playing, and continue to play outside on the sidewalk, even boarding a city bus in Chicago while playing, outside of a club called Biddy Mulligan’s (the bus driver stayed at the bus stop until Collins got off).
Collins has influenced many artists and collaborated with Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page, Robert Cray, Keith Richards, Johnny Nitro, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, B.B. King, Larry Carlton and Eric Clapton.
He is also remembered for his humorous stage presence, which was recounted in the film documentary, ''Antones: Austin's Home of the Blues''. Collins got into a long solo one night at Antone's, then left the building, still plugged in and playing. Several minutes after Collins returned to the stage, a pizza delivery man came in and gave Collins the pizza he had just ordered while outside the building.
1965: The Cool Sounds of Albert Collins (TCF Hall 8002) (collection of early singles)
1968: Love Can Be Found Anywhere (Even In A Guitar) (Imperial LP-12428)
1969: Trash Talkin (Imperial LP-12438)
1970: The Complete Albert Collins (Imperial LP-12449)
1971: ''There's Gotta Be A Change (Tumbleweed 103) - Billboard 200 #196