Albert Collins was born in Leona, Texas, on the 1st of October, 1933.
Albert was first introduced to the guitar by his cousin, blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins who often played for him and his family.
Albert Collins originally began learning piano at a young age, but during times when his teacher was absent he would borrow a guitar from his cousin Willow Young and receive guitar lessons from him, it was his cousin who also taught him the unique tuning that he would utilise his entire career.
After hearing John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen” at the age of 12, Albert decided he wanted to become a blues guitarists. By age 18 Albert started his musical career with a band called “The Rhythm Rockers”.
Collins originally played an Epiphone, but after experiencing a stirring performance by Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown he decided he wanted to play Fender guitars.
Unable to buy a Telecaster due to their price, Albert bought a Fender Esquire that he had fitted with a Telecaster neck. He used this guitar for his early recordings including the song “Frosty” which is renowned as one of his signature tracks.
He later purchased a Telecaster with a Humbucker pickup in the neck position, this became his signature guitar for the rest of his career. Albert would become known as “The Master of The Telecaster”.
Techniques And Musical Concepts They Popularised
Albert Collins had a distinctive guitar playing style that he achieved using an open F minor tuning that went from lowest to highest; F C F Ab C F, a capo that he repositioned according to the key of the song and his fingers in place of a guitar pick.
Albert’s signature stop start phrasing, stinging vibrato and charismatic stage presence didn’t just win him the respect and admiration of his fans, but the respect and admiration of many aspiring rock guitar greats.
Albert was renowned as much for his entertaining live performances as he was his razor sharp guitar playing. Albert would often utilise the capabilities of extremely long guitar leads to enter the crowds while playing and dance with members of the audience, he once left a venue while soloing followed by the audience to enter a neighbouring store and buy a chocolate bar.
Notable Rock Guitar Players They Influenced
Albert Collins has been cited by rock guitar great Jimi Hendrix as a personal inspiration. Jimi Hendrix was inspired by the sustain Albert used in “Collins Shuffle” replicating it with his famous track “Voodoo Chile”.
He was also admired by the members of the band “Canned Heat” who offered to secure him a manager after witnessing an inspiring performance by Albert in 1968.
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