Guitar Shorty Dies: Texas Bluesman Known For Stage Antics And Hendrix Influence Was 87

Guitar Shorty, a blue great for more than six decades known for his stage antics and awesome guitar solos, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 87 and his death was attributed to natural causes by his representatives.

Born David William Kearney, Guitar Shorty (a name granted him on a club marquee) started his career in the clubs of the south and southwest, with a stop in New Orleans at the famed Dew Drop Inn, where he led his own band. He then headed to Los Angeles and a gig with Sam Cooke, playing the west coast blues circuit.

During his travels, he met his future wife, Marsha, in Seattle, Washington. She was the step-sister of Jimi Hendrix, who quickly grew into one Guitar Shorty’s biggest fans. His bio claims he introduced Hendrix to the wah-wah pedal and loaned him one when the young man couldn’t afford one. Shorty married Marsha in 1962.

Guitar Shorty’s playing was abetted by his stage flair. He would perform backflips and somersaults during his set, wowing the crowd with his antics.

In addition to Cooke, his resume includes stints with Ray Charles. He also made a legendary appearance on “The Gong Show,” where he won first prize for performing the song, They Call Me Guitar Shorty” while balanced on his head.

Guitar Shorty recorded several Alligator Records albums, including the 2019 release, Trying to Find My Way Back. He charted several times with other albums for the label.

In 2002, he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song “Don’t Let It Go (Hold On To What You Got).”.

No information on survivors was immediately available.

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