Roy Buchanan – When A Guitar Plays The Blues (1985)

LPFrontCover1Leroy “Roy” Buchanan (September 23, 1939 – August 14, 1988) was an American guitarist and blues musician. A pioneer of the Telecaster sound, Buchanan worked as a sideman and as a solo artist, with two gold albums early in his caree] and two later solo albums that made it to the Billboard chart. He never achieved stardom, but is considered a highly influential guitar player. Guitar Player praised him as having one of the “50 Greatest Tones of All Time.” He appeared on the PBS music program Austin City Limits in 1977 (season 2).

Buchanan has influenced many guitarists, including Robbie Robertson, Gary Moore, Danny Gatton, Arlen Roth, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Jerry Garcia, Mick Ronson, Nils Lofgren, Jim Campilongo, and Steve Kimock; Beck dedicated his version of “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” from Blow by Blow to him. His work is said to “stretch the limits of the electric guitar,” and he is praised for “his subtlety of tone and the breadth of his knowledge, from the blackest of blues to moaning R&B and clean, concise, bone-deep rock ‘n’ roll.” In 2004, Guitar Player listed his version of “Sweet Dreams,” from his debut album on Polydor, Roy Buchanan, as having one of the “50 Greatest Tones of All Time.” In the same year, the readers of Guitar Player voted Buchanan #46 in a top 50 readers’ poll.


According to his agent and others, Buchanan was doing well, having gained control of his drinking habit and playing again, when he was arrested for public intoxication after a domestic dispute. He was found hanged from his own shirt in a jail cell on August 14, 1988, in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Jail. According to Thomas Hartman, who was in a cell near Buchanan’s, the deputy sheriff opened the door early in the morning and found Buchanan with the shirt around his neck. His cause of death was officially recorded as suicide, a finding disputed by Buchanan’s friends and family. One of his friends, Marc Fisher, reported seeing Roy’s body with bruises on the head.

After his death, compilation and other albums continue to be released, including in 2004 the never-released first album he recorded for Polydor, The Prophet.

Roy Buchanan is interred at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. (wikipedia)


When a Guitar Plays the Blues is a 1985 album by American guitarist and blues musician Roy Buchanan. This was his first record for Alligator Records.[1] It was recorded and mixed by Justin Niebank, mastered by Tom Coyne and produced by Roy Buchanan, Dick Shurman and Bruce Iglauer. (wikipedia)


Roy Buchanan was always one of the most respected guitarists in his field, ever since the ’70s. However, he hit a rough patch in the early ’80s, falling out of favor and finding record contracts hard to find. He made a startling comeback in 1985 with When a Guitar Plays the Blues, his first record for Alligator Records. Though the record still suffers the slightly antiseptic formula of Alligator Records, Buchanan shines throughout, making it clear why this brought him back to the spotlight in 1985. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Roy Buchanan (lead guitar, vocals)
Larry Exum (bass)
Morris Jennings – drums
Bill Heid – keyboards
Steele “Sonny” Seals – saxophone
Criss Johnson – rhythm guitar, solo, (second) (tr.9)[citation needed]
Otis Clay – vocals
Gloria Hardiman – vocals on 06.)


01. When A Guitar Plays The Blues (Johnson/Hables) 6.37
02. Chicago Smokeshop (Buchanan) 5.00
03. Mrs. Pressure (Buchanan) 4.36
04. A Nickel And A Nail (Morrison/Malone) 4.27
05. Short Fuse (Buchanan) 3.31
06. Why Don’t You Want Me (Osso) 6.06
07. Country Boy (Domino/Batholomew) 3.46
08. Sneaking Godzilla Through The Alley (Buchanan) 6.15
09. Hawaiian Punch (Buchanan) 1.52