The first time I met the blues was in the 1970s and I was taken to see a blues band play in the Adelaide Hills. It changed my whole outlook on music and the next day I bought the Bluesbreakers album and Clapton blew my mind. I’d never heard anything so deep and powerful. After digesting that album I started to look to see the artists that they were covering and discovered Otis Rush, Freddie King, Muddy etc.

I started the whole rollercoaster of music that I try not to stray too far from, even though I try to play MY blues and not sound too much like I’m copying anyone. You can still hear elements of the delta and Chicago in my stuff but I’m still a white boy from Australia just trying to fit in somewhere with my own voice. My latest album Sonic Blues Preachers with former Bon Scott Fraternity drummer John Freeman encompasses a lot of my influences and delves into a few other directions – 60s garage rock blues and a swampy track. The acoustic 12-string rules three tracks. It gets dark in places with an obvious Leadbelly influence but it’s primarily my blues.


1 – She’s Gone – Hound Dog Taylor

I’ve always loved a good dirty Chicago shuffle and songs that stay on one chord. Ted Harvey’s drumming style was so groovy and scrappy, all at the same time. The perfect compliment to Hound Dog’s almost garage-like slide guitar.


2 – Magic Sam’s – Boogie

The version on YouTube of Live At Sylvio’s 1966 is raw and nasty. He’s playing Earl Hooker’s Univox guitar on that. Killer performance.

3 – Robert Nighthawk – Eli’s Place 1964

The voice, the guitar, the atmosphere of the performance.

4 – Son House – Death Letter Blues

Love his National steel guitar. Timeless stuff. Heavy, raw and powerful.

5 – RL Burnside – Jumper On The Line

Drives like a freight train. Again, a one-chord song.

6 – ZZ Top – Brown Sugar

That guitar intro epitomises Billy Gibbon’s blues roots and turns into what will become ZZ Top’s signature blues-rock sound. A breakthrough recording and performance.

7 – Johnny Winter – Mean Town Blues

With Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner. Johnny at his best. Wild and frantic slide guitar and killer vocals. I had the pleasure to play with Uncle John Turner in Austin one night. It was Alan Haynes’ birthday, another one of Johnny’s band members. Stevie Ray once gave him a red 1964 Strat that he was playing that night. I toured a few times with Johnny in Germany, Finland and Corsica. A privilege.

8 – Rory Gallagher – I Wonder Who – Irish Tour ’74 version

A lesson in power, tone, melody and dynamics. His phrasing on this particular album was exemplary. I learnt a lot from playing with Rory’s band for five years, which was a real honour. I even played his Strat at a gig I did with him in 1990 in Adelaide.

9 – Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy – Hard Again

The album that Johnny Winter produced and got Muddy out of retirement. A real gutsy performance.

10 – Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’s Blues – American Folk Blues Festival

Just Lightnin’ and an acoustic guitar gets as deep as it can.

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