By Damian Fanelli
The late Danny Gatton had a nickname: “The Humbler.”
As in, “You think you’re so great? Let’s see you go head to head with Gatton. You will be humbled.”
Gatton, who also was known as “the Telemaster” and “the world’s greatest unknown guitarist” (a nickname he shared with his friend Roy Buchanan) could play country, rockabilly, jazz and blues guitar with equal authority—and sometimes with a beer bottle!
In this legendary clip from his 1991 Austin City Limits appearances, watch as Gatton plays slide guitar, overhand-style, using a full bottle of beer as a slide. Of course, since the bottle is full, some suds find their way onto his Fender Tele’s neck. So Gatton whips out a towel to wipe off the beer; only he keeps the towel on the neck—and simply keeps on playing.
What’s most impressive about this sequence is just how fun and musical his playing is, despite the beer-bottle theatrics. Although there’s a good deal of showmanship involved, it’s by no means all about showmanship; as always, his playing is humbling.
Now that we think about it, maybe one beer bottle isn’t enough. Be sure to check out the bottom video below, which shows Gatton playing slide with two beer bottles.
Parting thought: Steve Vai once said Gatton “comes closer than anyone else to being the best guitar player that ever lived.” If you’re unfamiliar with Gatton’s work, check out more of his clips on YouTube. In terms of Gatton albums to explore, there’s 1991’s 88 Elmira St. and Unfinished Business from 1987.
Gatton committed suicide in 1994 at age 49.
One beer bottle/towel:
Two beer bottles: