The Info List - Lenny Breau

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Leonard Harold Breau (August 5, 1941 – August 12, 1984) was an American-born guitarist and music educator. One of the most admired guitarists of his generation in musician's circles in Canada and the United States, he was known for blending many styles of music, including jazz, country, classical, and flamenco. Inspired by country guitarists like Chet Atkins, Breau used fingerstyle techniques not often used in jazz guitar. By using a seven-string guitar and approaching the guitar like a piano, he opened up possibilities for the instrument.


1 Biography

1.1 Canadian country 1.2 Turning to jazz

2 Posthumous honors 3 Technique and guitars 4 Discography 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

Biography[edit] Canadian country[edit] Breau was born August 5, 1941, in Auburn, Maine, but moved with his family to Moncton, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
in 1948.[1] His francophone parents, Harold "Hal Lone Pine" Breau and Betty Cody, were professional country and western musicians who performed and recorded from the mid-1930s until (in Hal Breau's case) the mid-1970s. From the mid to late 1940s they played summer engagements in southern New Brunswick, advertising their performances playing free programs on radio station CKCW Moncton. Their son began playing guitar at the age of eight. When he was twelve, he started a small band with friends, and by the age of fourteen he was the lead guitarist for his parents' band, billed as "Lone Pine Junior", playing Merle Travis
Merle Travis
and Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins
instrumentals and occasionally singing.[2] He made his first professional recordings in Westbrook, Maine
Westbrook, Maine
at Event Records with Al Hawkes
Al Hawkes
at the age of 15 while working as a studio musician.[3] Many of these recordings were released posthumously on the album Boy Wonder. The Breau family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1957, and their new band performed around the city and province as the CKY Caravan. Their shows were broadcast live on Winnipeg's CKY on Saturday mornings from remote locations.[3][4] One of their regular listeners was Randy Bachman, who was sixteen years old at the time. On one occasion Bachman bicycled to a Caravan performance in his West Kildonan neighborhood and ended up meeting Breau. Breau and Bachman soon became friends, and Breau informally began teaching Bachman, who has since described those lessons as "the beginning of my life as a guitar player."[citation needed] Turning to jazz[edit] Around 1959 Breau left his parents' country band after his father slapped him in the face for using jazz improvisations on stage.[5] He sought out local jazz musicians, performing at Winnipeg
venues Rando Manor and the Stage Door. He met pianist Bob Erlendson, who began teaching him more of the foundations of jazz. In 1962, Breau left for Toronto and created the jazz group Three with singer and actor Don Francks and Eon Henstridge on acoustic bass.[3][4] Three performed in Toronto, Ottawa, and New York City. Their music was featured in the 1962 National Film Board documentary Toronto Jazz. They recorded a live album at the Village Vanguard in New York City and appeared on the Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason
and Joey Bishop
Joey Bishop
television shows.[3] Returning to Winnipeg, Breau became a regular session guitarist, recording for CBC Radio
CBC Radio
and CBC Television, and contributed to CBC-TV's Teenbeat, Music Hop, and his own The Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
Show.[4] In 1963 and 1964, Breau appeared at David Ingram's Fourth Dimension at 2000 Pembina Highway
Pembina Highway
in Fort Garry, a suburb of Winnipeg.[3] Every Sunday night was a party open to all. Another regular at the club on Sunday nights was Neil Young
Neil Young
and his band with Vancouver CKNW's Rick Honey as his drummer. In 1967, recordings of Breau's playing from The Lenny Breau Show found their way to Chet Atkins. The ensuing friendship resulted in Breau's first two albums, Guitar Sounds from Lenny Breau and The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
– Live! on RCA.[6][7] He lived in various Canadian cities until returning to the U.S. in 1976. For several years he moved between Maine, Nashville, Stockton, California, and New York City, eventually settling in Los Angeles in 1983.[3] These years he spent performing, teaching, and writing for Guitar Player magazine.[8] A few more solo albums were issued during his lifetime, in addition to albums recorded with fiddler Buddy Spicher and pedal steel guitarist Buddy Emmons. Breau had problems with drugs beginning in the 1960s which he managed to control during the last years of his life.[3] On August 12, 1984, his body was found in a swimming pool at his apartment complex in Los Angeles, California.[9] The coroner reported that Breau had been strangled. Breau's wife, Jewel, was the chief suspect in the case but she was not charged.[3] He is interred in an unmarked grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[10] Posthumous honors[edit] Many live and "lost" recordings have been issued since Breau's death. His studio recordings have also been reissued. Due to efforts by Randy Bachman of Guitarchives, Paul Kohler of Art of Life Records, Tim Tamashiro of CBC radio
CBC radio
and others, a new generation of listeners has access to his music.[11] Breau was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of fame in 1997.[12] A documentary entitled The Genius of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
was produced in 1999 by Breau's daughter Emily Hughes. It includes interviews with Chet Atkins, Ted Greene, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Leonard Cohen, and Bachman, as well as family members. George Benson
George Benson
said "He dazzled me with his extraordinary guitar playing... I wish the world had the opportunity to experience his artistry."[13] The biography One Long Tune: The Life and Music of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
by Ron Forbes-Roberts was published in 2006 containing interviews with nearly 200 people and a comprehensive discography. CBC Radio
CBC Radio
presented a documentary on Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
entitled "On the Trail of Lenny Breau" (the title is in reference to Breau's parents' song "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine"). It was first broadcast on September 13, 2009 as part of a regular weekly program called Inside the Music. It was narrated by Breau's son, Chet.[14] The one-hour feature was produced in Montreal
by John Klepko.[15] Technique and guitars[edit]

Lenny Breau's seven-string electric guitar

Breau's fully matured technique was a combination of Chet Atkins's and Merle Travis's fingerpicking and Sabicas-influenced flamenco, highlighted by right-hand independence and flurries of artificial harmonics. His harmonic sensibilities were a combination of his country roots, classical music, modal music, Indian, and jazz, particularly the work of pianist Bill Evans.[11] Breau often adapted Evans's compositions, such as "Funny Man", for guitar. Breau said in relation to this, "I approach the guitar like a piano. I've reached a point where I transcend the instrument. A lot of the stuff I play on the seven-string guitar is supposed to be technically impossible, but I spent over twenty years figuring it out. I play the guitar like a piano, there's always two things going on at once. I'm thinking melody, but I'm also thinking of a background. I play the accompaniment on the low strings." He had two custom seven-string guitars made, one classical and one electric. At the time, no company made a string that could be tuned to the high A on his classical guitar. Breau used fishing line of the correct gauge[8] until the La Bella company began making a string for him. The electric guitar was made by Kirk Sand, also with the first string being a high A.[16] Discography[edit]

1968: Guitar Sounds from Lenny Breau (RCA) 1969: The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau – Live!
The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau – Live!
(RCA), (1994) 1978: Minors Aloud
Minors Aloud
( Buddy Emmons with Lenny Breau) (Flying Fish; Art of Life, 2005) 1979: Five O'Clock Bells
Five O'Clock Bells
(Adelphi Genes, 1987) 1979: Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
(Direct-Disk Labs, 1985) Adelphi, 1999) (Released as Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
Trio) 1979: The Legendary Lenny Breau... Now!
The Legendary Lenny Breau... Now!
(Sound Hole) 1981: Mo' Breau
Mo' Breau
(Adelphi Genes, 1981) 1981: Standard Brands (RCA) (with Chet Atkins) 1982: When Lightn' Strikes
When Lightn' Strikes
(Tudor, 2005) (Art of Life) (Released as Swingin' on a Seven-String) 1984: Legacy (Relaxed Rabbit) (also released as Live at Bourbon St. by Guitarchives in 1995) 1985: Quietude
Electric Muse (also released as Live at Bourbon St. by Guitarchives in 1995) 1986: The Living Room Tapes, Vol. 1 Livingroom (with Brad Terry) (1988) (Musical Heritage Society, 1995) DOS 1988: Last Sessions
Last Sessions
Genes 1990: The Living Room Tapes, Vol. 2 (Musical Heritage Society, with Brad Terry) 1995: Live at Bourbon St. (Guitarchives) 1997: Cabin Fever (Guitarchives) 1997: Chance Meeting (Guitarchives) 1998: Boy Wonder (Guitarchives) 2000: Live at Donte's (String Jazz) 2001: Pickin' Cotten (Guitarchives) (with Richard Cotten) 2003: The Complete Living Room Tapes (Art of Life) 2003: The Hallmark Sessions
The Hallmark Sessions
(Art of Life) (recorded 1961) 2004: At the Purple Onion
At the Purple Onion
(Art of Life) (with Don Francks
Don Francks
and Eon Henstridge) 2006: Mosaic (Guitarchives) 2014: LA Bootleg 1984 Linus Entertainment

See also[edit]

Biography portal Music of Canada
Music of Canada

Music of Canada Canadian Music Hall of Fame


^ Forbes-Roberts, Ron (2006). One Long Tune: The Life and Music of Lenny Breau. University of North Texas Press. p. 10. ISBN 9781574412307.  ^ "Lenny Breau". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11 May 2008.  ^ a b c d e f g h Forbes-Roberts, Ron (2006). One Long Tune: The Life and Music of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Denton, Texas: Univ. of North Texas Press. ISBN 1-57441-210-8.  ^ a b c "Breau, Lenny". canoe.com. Retrieved 11 May 2008.  ^ Forbes-Roberts, pp.41-42 ^ McClellan, John; Bratic, Deyan, eds. (2004). Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins
in Three Dimensions. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-5877-0.  ^ Atkins, Chet (July 1986). "The Genius of Lenny Breau". Frets.  ^ a b Ferguson, Jim (November 1984). " Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
Remembered". Guitar Player.  ^ "Guitar Star Found Dead". Winnipeg
Sun. 14 August 1984.  ^ "While his guitar not so gently wept". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2017-01-09.  ^ a b Lieberson, Richard. "Lenny Breau". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 July 2010.  ^ http://canadianmusichalloffame.ca/inductee/lenny-breau/ ^ " Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
- Jazz
Guitar - Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
Documentary - The Genius of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
- DVD". Softandgroovy.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2015-08-01.  ^ CBC Music: Inside the Archives Archived 2016-03-01 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Ricci, Michael (8 September 2009). "On the Trail of Lenny Breau". All About Jazz. Retrieved 11 August 2017.  ^ Drake, Gayla. "Builder Profile: Kirk Sand Guitars". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

NEMS Book Early Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
(archived October 27, 2009) The Genius of Lenny Breau
Lenny Breau
(PDF document) Retrieved July 3, 2009.

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 33663126 LCCN: n93000587 ISNI: 0000 0000 7876 9961 GND: 13230452X SUDOC: 174408684 BNF: cb14158828f (data) MusicBrainz: 7c92874a-d81b-43f7