Albert Collins and The Icebreakers – live at Chestnut Cabaret – December 12, 1986 – Band Soundboard recording –
Albert Collins for a Blast of the Blues this weekend. Recorded in concert at Chestnut Cabaret in Philadelphia on December 12, 1986.
Albert Collins was an inspiration to a generation of Texas guitar players, including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan. He was among a small group of Texas blues players, along with Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Johnny Copeland, who shaped the legacy of T-Bone Walker into a modern blues template that was to have a major influence on many later players. In an interview with Guitar World magazine, Robert Cray said, “it was seeing Albert Collins at a rock festival in 1969 that really turned my head around.” Two years later, Collins played at Cray’s high-school graduation party in Tacoma, Washington, and the ice-pick sound sunk in deep: “That was it,” Cray recalled. “That changed my whole life around. From that moment I started seriously studying the blues.” Rolling Stone ranked Collins at number 56 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Albert Collins was born in Leona, Texas, on October 1, 1932. He was introduced to the guitar at an early age by his cousin Lightnin’ Hopkins, also a Leona resident, who played at family gatherings. The Collins family relocated to Marquez, Texas, in 1938 and to Houston in 1941, where he attended Jack Yates High School. Collins took piano lessons when he was young, but when his piano tutor was unavailable his cousin Willow Young would lend Albert his guitar and taught him the altered tuning that he used throughout his career. Collins tuned his guitar to an open F-minor chord (FCFAbCF), with a capo at the 5th, 6th or 7th fret. At the age of sixteen, he decided to concentrate on learning the guitar after hearing “Boogie Chillen'” by John Lee Hooker.
Collins was signed to Point Blank Records, a subsidiary of Virgin Records, in 1991 and released the album Iceman the same year.Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records expressed his disappointment at the departure of Collins while acknowledging that he had signed Collins on a record-to-record basis. On 15 November 1991, Collins performed with Robert Cray, Steve Cropper and Dave Edmunds at the Guitar Legends event in Seville, a series of five concerts to promote the upcoming Seville Expo ’92. The preceding month, on 28 October, Collins was filmed in concert for the television program Austin City Limits; the concert was broadcast on 21 February 1992 and released on DVD in April 2008 as Albert Collins: Live From Austin, TX. In 1993, Collins played at the Point Blank Borderline Blues Festival in London, which ran from 17 March to 27 March; this was his last appearance in the UK.
Collins was performing at the Paléo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, in July 1993 when he was taken ill. He was diagnosed in mid-August with lung cancer, which had metastasized to his liver, with an expected survival time of four months. Tracks for his last album, Live ’92/’93, were recorded at shows that September. Collins died on 24 November 1993 at the age of 61. He was interred at Davis Memorial Park, in Las Vegas, Nevada. His final album, Live ’92/’93, was posthumously nominated at the 38th Grammy Awards of 1996 in the category Best Blues Contemporary Album.
And if you’re getting around to being introduced to the Master Of The Telecaster, hang out, relax and hit the play button.
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