Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Michael Hedges: acoustic guitar visionary

Upon discovering a rash of early video clips of one of my all time musical heroes recently posted on youtube, I decided it is obligatory that Michael Hedges be my next blog entry.

First and foremost, a special note of thanks goes out to Mr. Randy Lutge for both taking the time to post all of this video footage, and for being willing to share his vast collection of rare video of the legendary guitar visionary Michael Hedges.

What many people don't know is that Michael is almost solely responsible for revolutionizing the approach to modern acoustic guitar composition and performance.  It was said that Michael did for the acoustic guitar what Jimi Hendrix did for the electric.  I back this statement 110%, having been a longtime fan of Michael's, having seen him perform numerous times over many years, and having listened to his entire body of work many times over.  What I can also add with fair certainty is that nobody else will come along in my lifetime who can play the instrument with such astonishing skill and exacting mastery as Michael did.  Sadly, in the peak of his flourishing career, Michael died in a car accident in the Fall of 1997.  The news of his passing was extremely shocking, and a devastating blow to an enormous body of fans, friends, and his family.  Personally, I have never felt such a strong impact as Michael's death had in comparison to any other musician's passing.  The man was an absolute musical genius, pioneering the use of string-stopping, among many other fascinating skills he employed on the steel string guitar.  Hammer-ons, pull-offs, plucked harmonics, tapping, and many other techniques were the foundation of everything Michael did on the guitar.  He was also very into high-end amplification for his guitars, using both magnetic pickups and transducer pickups, the latter which turned the guitar body into a microphone, picking up all of Michael's thumps and slaps and the guitar.  He had incredible ears, and a knack for mixing the house sound at live shows to near perfection.

I could go on, but mainly I hope to introduce new listeners to his music, helping his legacy live on.  You can check out the rare video clips I mentioned earlier at Randy Lutge's youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/rlutge#p/u/3/c8TieeK8L2k  

Michael Hedges' website:
Here are two more select clips that I feel are essential viewing.  The final clip was amateur footage taken from one of Michael's final concerts in November 1997.  It illustrates where he was with his playing at the time he left us, and perhaps a very subtle hint at the quirky character he was.

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