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The Ice Man. Master of the Telecaster. The Razor Blade. All were nicknames given to Albert Collins, and with his sharp, fingerpicked attack informed by both Chicago and Mississippi blues styles, he earned every one.
A total original, famous for his ‘guitar walks’ through the audience (he would sometimes perform with cables over 150 feet long), Collins’s approach (guitar tuned to an open F-minor - F-C-F-Ab-C-F - and capoed at the 5th, 7th or 9th frets) was as distinctive as his instrument: a 1966 Telecaster with a Gibson PAF humbucker in the neck position.
For decades Collins toiled in relative obscurity, but in the mid-’80s he road the crest of the blues revival and shared a Grammy with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland for the album Showdown!. A year later, his Grammy-nominated Cold Snap went down as one of his finest.
Cited by the likes of Coco Montoya, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jonny Lang and John Mayer as a major influence, Collins died from liver cancer on 24 November 1993.