I have always wondered, at what age did my role-models began playing guitar. It is widely considered that unless someone starts playing at early teens, there is no future or reason for starting. It is not true on any level. While most of wildly admired Blues Guitarists had started early, it was their hard work and extreme dedication that brought them to international fame. Talent is about 5% that you get after 95% of hard work, and those 95% will get you on the Rolling Stones Best 100 Guitarists of All Time.
I truly believe that the thought of age as an excuse is false. It is easier to learn at a younger age, but nothing is impossible if you want something with all your heart and if you put hundreds of patient hours into improving your own self. Same in any craft or industry.
Just listen to Steve Vai talk about being successful when he was at Guitar Center.
These thoughts usually come at moments of discouragement when I am unable to conquer certain blues licks or resurrect the feel of certain tone. It should be obvious that it takes years of playing, practicing and learning from one’s mistakes to become decent at something but I kept wondering whether it was too late to start or if I didn’t have enough time left.
I have decided to compile the list of many Blues Guitarists depicting the age at which they started playing. This will hopefully show you that even though most of them started at a very young age, it was their focus, it was their stubborn ambition and hard labor that brought them to these heights.
And so the list:
Buddy Guy: In this video Buddy Guy says he was 10-11-12 when he first started playing. 40 years later his blues guitar still sends chill down my spine.
Howlin’ Wolf: This great man bought his first guitar at age of 18 and learnt his first song two years later with guidance of another great blues guitarist, Charley Patton.
Muddy Waters: Got his first guitar at age 17-18 and self-taught his way all the way to eternal fame.
Jimi Hendrix: At age 14 Jimi found a one-string ukulele and began learning by ear. At age 15 he bought his first guitar.
Eric Clapton: He is so good that some people truly believed he may be a deity. Eric Clapton got his first guitar at 13 and got really fond of it a couple years later.
B.B. King: The King of the Blues needs no captioning. His life was one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever learned about.
R.L. Burnside: Started playing when he was 16, gifted listeners with great rhythmic compositions and made me personally bounce around to his songs.
Son House: Did not pick up a guitar till he was 25 but when he did, he was so much in love with it and so overwhelmed with blues slide guitar that he learnt at incredible paste and was playing withing a short time.
Ronnie Earl: a well sounding Blues Musician and an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music has not began learning about guitar until he was 20 and thus became another example that nothing is impossible when you put your heart in it.
And many more to come…