Friday, April 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: A Real Guitar Hero

Here are some statistics for you. A career now in its sixth decade, over forty studio albums, seven live releases, and other music credits two numerous to mention in this blog post. And let's not forget the Seven Dove Awards between 1987 and 2002 (all for Instrumental Album of The Year). Is it any wonder why I called my award for the best guitarist in CCM the Keaggy Award.

Philip Tyler Keaggy (b. March 23, 1951 in Youngstown, OH), one of ten siblings. Though losing one of his fingers in a childhood accident, he took to the guitar. He started his musical career with the Squires in the 1960's, but he really came into his own as a member of Glass Harp. Here is a video of them from the 70's. Phil is the one with short hair and beard.

Glass Harp put out three albums: Glass Harp (1970), Synergy (1971) and It Makes Me Glad (1972). Keaggy left after the third album and the group never entered the studio without him. Since he accepted Christ at about the same time as he joined the band, the music of Glass Harp has been long accepted as a Christian Band of sorts, though it is officially a mainstream group.

What a Day (1973) was Phil's debut. The song is about the joy we will have in Heaven, and it is always masterful on acoustic guitar. This video is an extended acoustic version of almost eight minutes in length. Listen and watch in awe.

Three years elapsed in between Phil Keaggy's debut and his sophomore release. During that time Keith Green and Randy Stonehill wrote Your Love Broke Through, and legend has it that Green personally chose Keaggy to be the first to record the song. If that is true then he was a tremendous judge of the impact that this budding guitarist would have on the CCM community. Not surprisingly, Love Broke Thru (1976) was a breakout album. Here is Your Love Broke Through as performed by Phil.
During his forty plus album career Phil has blessed us with several instrumental masterpieces. To me, one of the most memorable of these was The Wind and The Wheat (1987). I was in college at the time and when it was time to do my senior project, I used this album as my slide presentation soundtrack. I took the easy route. I just hit record and let it play. It was a whole lot easier than trying to find the right piece. When you hear his music, can you pick a wrong piece. This is a short one from the album.

As Steve Jobs would say "One More Thing". How about a live guitar solo.

While doing research for this post I discovered an album recorded by Keaggy that will be a shoe-in for the Platinum Vinyl Awards this year. Live From Kegworth Studio. It will definitely win the Keaggy award.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Everyone acknowledges that Phil Keaggy is one of the top 10 guitarists in the world. I wonder who #2 to #10 are? As always, I am Awaiting Your Reply.