Mr. Legg's compositions, with their narrative melodies and nakedly emotive tones, offer an antidote to the guitar-hero syndrome.
Born in the Salvation Army Hospital in Hackney, London, Legg is a classic mongrel Londoner, with the long mixed East End blood of entrepreneurial Hugenot and Jewish refugees topped up from a sturdy line of East Anglian farmers; a fertile genetic stew mixed further with Welsh, West Indian and Philippino in his grandchildren.
While studying oboe under parental pressure (his own words), he began fashioning his own guitars, “or rather odd stringed instruments that at least could execute an acceptable twang” from pictures in newspapers, scraps from the school woodwork scrap bin, fret wire and with strings held on by head rest cover containers taken from the local bus station. While working at the airport in Liverpool, he met a young man who invited him to join a band and introduced him to country music.
After two years of working in Liverpool working men's social clubs, he hitch-hiked back to London, where he played electric guitar in clubs and joined up with bands that eventually traveled outside the U.K. A demand from a band leader that he use an acoustic to play loud chords up against a mic for one number nudged him towards the acoustic as a separate instrument.
Since then Adrian Legg has gone on to become a guitar wizard who defies all categorization. His virtuostic playing can take you places you have never imagined. Legg's unbounded creativity and grace, led him to be voted the "Best Fingerstylist" by the readers of Guitar Player magazine. Legg is, without exaggeration, one of the finest guitar players alive. Few artists can cover such a spectrum of music on one instrument. His albums showcase his intricate and elegant blending of country, jazz, folk, rock, and classical influences.
Beginning with Guitar and Other Cathedrals (released in 1990) he has displayed remarkable technique and intuition, great wit and humor, and a gift for composing lyrical melodies. Guitar for Mortals (1992) and Mrs. Crowe's Blues Waltz (1993) were each named "Best Acoustic Album" in the Guitar Player polls, and in 1994 Wine, Women and Waltz was honored as "Best Overall Guitar Album," a rare feat for a primarily acoustic work. The readers of Britain's Guitarist Magazine topped them all, naming Legg the "Guitarist of the Decade" in their 10th Anniversary Poll.
Not only is Legg an instrumental genius he also has a reputation for his funny stage presence. His deadpan humor and hilarious stories have been as much of a concert draw for him as his music. He has been a commentator-at-large for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. He has toured with such varied artists as Nanci Griffith, Tanita Tikarum, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai - converting more "Leggheads" as he goes.
On his last Red House release, Fingers and Thumbs, Legg delivers plenty of classic flowing guitar eloquence as well as some quirky detours. Recorded with Eric Johnson, bassist Roscoe Beck and drummer Tom Brechtline, it's a runaway train of guitar and rhythm. "Not Remotely Blue" was written in 1974 and promptly abandoned when he relized his "Englishness predisposed [him] to depression rather than any convincing blues." He pulled it out again in 1998 when he "no longer cared"--much to our benefit. Not only is Adrian a world-class guitarist, but as an avid photographer his work highlights the packaging of Fingers and Thumbs. Adrian continues to keep a healthy tour schedule traveling the US and UK wowing crowds with his jaw-dropping style.
- Leo Kottke
- John Prine
- Richie Havens