I got my first real six-string...
“My very first guitar was a Harmony Rocket. My dad was a labourer and he didn’t have any money, so that was a big deal.
“And the defining moment for me to play the guitar was seeing a picture of The Beatles in a record shop. George - just being a wise-guy - had the neck of his Gretsch across the necks of the other Beatles.
“I’d already heard The Beatles on a jukebox when I was about seven, and I loved it, but my parents weren’t musical and I didn’t know what made that sound. So that’s when I thought, ‘That’s the thing that makes the sound I love.’”
Three steps to heaven...
“The dream guitar was the orange Gretsch 6120. Y’know, the Eddie Cochran guitar. And I did get it.
“I found it in my local newspaper, in the ads. It was a hundred bucks. I went over and the guy had the guitar on one side and all the electronics in a shoebox - and no case. A hundred bucks: take it or leave it.
“A gentleman by the name of Jess Oliver put it back together for me. He was the president of Ampeg, but he was a local guy who loved kids, and he’d take you in his basement and show you how stuff worked.”
On an island in the sun...
“My setup hasn’t really changed since I was 17 years old. I’ve never been able to beat the ’63 Bassman.
“It was a really odd year, because they only made it for about nine months, then they changed the circuitry. So I’d take the 2x12 Bassman to a desert island, along with my ’59 Gretsch 6120 and the Roland Space Echo. That makes the magic for me. I’d be happy with that, y’know.”
There goes my hero...
“You can always get a guitar lesson from someone. Even if you’re Chet Atkins, you can still learn. And I was actually gonna say Chet - but I did get a guitar lesson from him, so I’ve actually fulfilled that dream.
“Of course, he’s been gone a long time, but on the jazz side, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get a lesson from Wes Montgomery? He was so outside the box. I’d just like to say to him, ‘What were you thinking?’”
Built for speed...
“It’s hard to talk about your own playing, but I think my biggest strength is my diversity. I mix everything up, all different styles.
“But there’s always room for improvement. Sometimes, I catch myself going a little too fast. Sometimes, I need to just stop and hold a note. It can mean more than playing a dozen of ’em.”
Rock 'n' roll high school...
“I can give you a piece of advice on songwriting, actually, from that guitar lesson with Chet Atkins. He said to me, ‘It’s good that you’re playing in Bb and Db, because that’s thinking outside the box’.
“It’s funny the stuff that comes out of your guitar in weird horn keys. Most rockers play in E or A. But when you play in Bb, listen to how cool the riffs sound.
“There’s different tricks you can pull off in flat keys and sharp keys you can’t do in natural keys. Try fooling around in C# - you might come up with something.”
Don't let me be misunderstood...
“I think the biggest misconception about me is from people who think my style of playing has to be strictly limited to rockabilly.
“Everyone has a different opinion on what you should be doing. Some people want you to just do one thing, right down the middle... but that’s not me, y’know? I absorb many things, and it just comes outta my hands. I can’t even describe how it happens.”