Danny Gatton

BIOGRAPHY – Danny Gatton

Rockabilly guitarist “The Humbler” Danny Gatton was born on the 4th of September, 1945 in Washington, D.C. Sadly Gatton took his own life on the 4th of October, 1994. He was forty-nine. Gatton mainly played a 1953 Fender Telecaster, which coupled with his playing abilities, earned him a second nickname, ‘Telemaster’.

Gatton grew up in a musical family. His father (Daniel Gatton Sr.) was also a guitarist, but had set aside any serious musical ambitions so he could raise his family. Gatton began playing the guitar at the age of nine and joined his first band three years later. By the age of fifteen Gatton had joined the Jazz group ‘The Offbeats’, where he met Dick Heintze, who would go onto become one of Gatton’s main influences.

It wasn’t until the seventies that Gatton began to make a name for himself around the Washington D.C area. In 1975, with his group ‘Danny and the Fat Boys’, Gatton released is debut album ‘American Music’. His second offering was titled ‘Redneck Jazz’. Both records offered a mixture of jazz, blues and rockabilly resulting in a very unique sound.

Though Gatton’s first two albums did not do as well commercially as they perhaps should have, they did lead to offers with other bands and artists. Lowell George, also known as Little Feat, was among these artists. However, shortly after his expression of interest in Gatton, he was found dead.

Gatton gained national exposure and increased popularity amongst guitar lovers through touring with country singer Roger Miller and rockabilly artist Robert Gordon, however it wasn’t until the late eighties that Gatton decided to pursue his career more vigorously.

Guitar World Magazine rated Gatton’s 1987 release ‘Unfinished Business’ #10 of the Top 100 albums of the 80s. It also captured the attention of magazine heavyweights ‘Rolling Stone’.

Gatton made his major label debut ‘88 Elmira St.’ through Elektra Records in 1991. The album was Gatton’s first pure Jazz record. 1992 and 1993 brought with them the release of two more albums, ‘New York Stories’ and ‘Cruisin’ Deuces’. However, the albums didn’t bring much success, marking the end of Gatton’s time with the record label.

Gatton collaborated with organ master Joey DeFrancesco and released ‘Relentless’ in 1994. Sadly, on October 4th of the same year, Gatton locked himself in his garage and shot himself. He left behind no explanation.

In the years following his death, his ability has been acknowledged with honors including being ranked 63rd on Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’ and 27th on Gibson.com’s ‘Best Guitarists of All Time’.