David Lindley - Who?
My recent post on Bob Dylan sparked a long conversation with Chunter in the comments system and he pointed me towards the work of Tony Banks. Tony who? thought I, as I listened to the YouTube links he provided. In the end I worked it out (and confirmed it through the Wikipedia) - he wrote and performed in the group Genesis; and his songs are sung by many other artists although rarely by himself.

David Lindley
David Lindley

Some people do not accept greatness when it is thrust upon them, I guess. All this talk of such an influential unknown made me think of David Lindley, perhaps the epitome of great musicians who never broke through to fame and fortune although familiar to and used by many of the most famous artists of our time. Consider this list of names that David has played his sublime slide guitar for: Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Rod Stewart, Ry Cooder, Warren Zevon (who was a good friend of Jackson Browne's) as well as Iggy Pop and even Dolly Parton.

And it is the slide guitar for which Lindley is known, never mind the wide range of weird and wonderful instruments he is also master of - the oud, the bouzouki, cittern, saz and cümbüs, in addition to the guitar, banjo and violin. I was introduced to Lindley's music by Andrea and I can do no better than to let her describe his amazing talent:

"I was a fan of Jackson Browne way back when, during the time you never heard him on Top 40 stations and only occasionally heard Doctor My Eyes on classic rock stations. I have to give my brother credit here because he introduced me to Jackson Browne, whose lyrical explorations of relationships and human emotion were made more hauntingly beautiful by the accompaniment of David Lindley’s slide guitar. Every note reaches down deep inside and with expert fingers plucks at those taut strings of pain and love (are they ever far from each other?) and gently makes them sing.

"Strangely, his quirky and eccentric demeanor contrasting with his serious musicianship, it is for his falsetto rendition of Stay at the end of the Jackson Browne song The Load Out that Lindley is most famous for amongst music fans. Fewer are those who know the full range of Lindley’s talents."

Did she say range? That's an understatement! He seems able to do anything, from rock such as his version of Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London to this virtuoso performance of the blues accompanied by his bazuki lap guitar. Then there's this clip of him performing with Terry Reid in 1971 (back in the days when we were all freaks) or how about some reggae - Quarter of a Man with his band, El Rayo-X. The man is endlessly talented.

And perhaps that is why he is not famous - just too involved with playing the music and loving it to have time for self publicity. Of course, his very versatility and determination to go wherever he wants to musically has also made him a dangerous property for any record company. How do you classify such enormous versatility? Note how, when he plays with the famous, he fades into the background, content to provide the touches that make the song but never claiming center stage. It may well have been a choice not be famous too.

To hear more of David Lindley, visit his website. Or better still, buy one of his El Rayo-X albums!


I adore David Lindley, as you know. He's talented and funny and best of all, he's a freak. I think you are right when you say that not being famous gives you more freedom. David can do as he likes with his own personal music, because he can always make money as a session musician - the man will never be out of work.
Date Added: 27/08/2007

And he'll never be rich either... ;)
Date Added: 31/08/2007

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