Gary Clark Jr.

“forget the textbooks”

Photo above: Frank Maddocks
Words: Florian Obkircher

Eric Clapton named Gary Clark jr the best guitarist of his generation, and Obama is a fan, but this American virtuoso can’t read music

THE RED BULLETIN: Is it true that you’ve never had a single music lesson in your life?

Gary Clark jr: It’s true. I started teaching myself to play guitar when I was 12. Even now, I still can’t read music. 

Is that a problem?

I don’t think so. Classical education can get in the way of creativity sometimes. Forget the textbooks. I actually had an opportunity to go to university and study, but I decided not to, because I knew it wasn’t the path for me.

Gary Clark Jr., 31, Blues Brother: “Classical education can get in the way of creativity sometimes.”

© CrossroadsGuitar // YouTube

How did you find your own style?

I learn things in life when I jump right into the fire. When I was a teenager, instead of just swotting up on music theory at home, I would take my guitar along to clubs and jam on stage with old blues musicians. It was tough in the beginning, but it got me hooked. I worked through it and got people’s attention.

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