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Bob Marley Was A Palm Reader: 8 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Iconic Black Musicians

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Bob Marley Was A Palm Reader: 8 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Iconic Black Musicians

Black artists have consistently influenced the course of music history, and many musical genres have roots in Black culture. Yet even some of the most influential, written-about musicians still have surprising backgrounds

GRAMMYs/Feb 18, 2022 - 08:57 pm

Music is a vital part of Black history, and the roots of jazz, pop, R&B, punk and soul (among many other genres) can be traced to Black musicians. Black artists have consistently charted and changed the course of music history, inspiring popular genres and musicians, while influencing long-lasting trends.

In the spirit of celebrating the Black roots of multiple genres, GRAMMY.com reveals lesser-known facts about influential Black musicians — many of whom put their stamp on projects that you may be surprised to learn about.

Muddy Waters Inspired The Rolling Stones’ Name

McKinley Morganfield — popularly known as Muddy Waters — influenced a generation of rock musicians, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and many more. The American blues singer grew up on Stovall Plantation in Clarksdale, Miss. and began playing guitar and harmonica at a very young age. Waters was first recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941. After moving to Chicago, Muddy recorded his first songs for Aristocrat and Columbia Records in 1946.

Muddy Waters and his band were famous for their ability to make blues standards catchy and contemporary, as evidenced by songs such as “You Need Love,” “You Shook Me,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Got My Mojo Working,” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.”

Muddy toured England in 1958, and helped propel the resurgence of blues music in the country. His prolific lyricism inspired at least one group of British rockers: the Rolling Stones (originally the Blues Boys) allegedly took their name from Muddy’s 1950 hit “Rollin’ Stone.” Other groups followed, with Led Zeppelin covering “You Shook Me” and reworking Muddy’s “You Need Love” into “Whole Lotta Love.” AC/DC’s hit “You Shook Me All Night Long” is similarly inspired by Muddy’s 1962 song. 

Muddy won GRAMMY Awards for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1979 and 1980.

Mamie Smith Was The First Black Woman To Make A Record

Also known as “the queen of blues,” Mamie Smith’s success was pivotal to the classic female blues era of the 1920s, which typically featured a singer accompanied by pianists or a small group of musicians. 

She was also the first female African-American performer to make a phonograph record. Okeh Records, the company Smith recorded for, received death threats for pressing records from a Black artist. Against all odds, the record became a commercial success and paved the way for all Black musicians to record. 

Smith recorded many tracks in 1920, which became her famous hits. In less than a year, “Crazy Blues” and “It’s Right Here for You (If You Don’t Get It, ‘Tain’t No Fault of Mine)” sold more than a million copies. In 1994, “Crazy Blues” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.

Nina Simone Wrote “Mississippi Goddam” In Less Than 1 Hour

The provocative and insightful work of Nina Simone (born Eunice Kathleen) spans genres, touching classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop. A child prodigy, Simone was turned down from classical music school because she was Black — though she wasn’t deterred  from achieving her dream as a singer.

Simone’s career is marked for her refusal to be pigeonholed by style or subject matter. Among Simone’s many notable tracks are “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life,” “I Put a Spell on You, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free),” and “Feeling Good.”

Her 1964 Civil Rights anthem “Mississippi Goddam” took just 20 minutes to an hour to write — but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. (“Oh but this country is full of lies/ You’re all gonna die like flies/I don’t trust you anymore…Just give me my equality,” she sings.)

The song was later banned — some say it is because “goddam” was in the title; others argue that the subject matter was what caused the ban.

Frankie Knuckles Nearly Wasn’t The “Godfather” Of House Music

Francis Nicholls Jr. — or Frankie Knuckles to his fans — helped pioneer the development of house music as a DJ at Chicago nightclub the Warehouse. The term house music, as we understand today, originated as the music you would hear at the Warehouse.

Born in New York, Frankie spent much of the ‘70s DJing at nightclubs with his friend and longtime Paradise Lounge resident Larry Levan. Frankie’s first DJ residency was at New York’s legendary Continental Baths, an epicenter of gay culture and disco, in the early ‘70s. 

Frankie moved to Chicago with Levan in 1977 and began DJing at the Warehouse. Over the course of his five-year residency, Frankie was regarded as “The Godfather of House Music” due to his unique records and skillful mixes.

Yet Frankie wasn’t the first choice DJ for the Warehouse — Levan was. Larry declined the gig but recommended Frankie, and the rest is history. Frankie won the inaugural GRAMMY Award for Best Remixed Recording (Non-Classical) at the 40th annual GRAMMY Awards.

Marvin Gaye Spent His Early Years At Motown As A Drummer

Marvin Pentz Gay Jr., popularly known as Marvin Gaye, was influential to the R&B genre. As a musician and songwriter, his gifts helped put the Motown sound on the map and earned him the moniker “prince of Motown” and “prince of soul.”

Marvin Gaye spent his early years at Motown as a drummer for in-house band, the Funk Brothers. While you can hear Gaye’s resonant, iconic voice on dozens of Motown tunes, his drumming appears on songs for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Marvelettes and others.

Nile Rodgers Went from Chic to “Material Girl”

Guitarist Nile Rodgers began his career in New York, touring with the Sesame Street band. When Rodgers met bassist Bernard Edwards in 1970, they formed The Big Apple Band — which would later be renamed Chic. The group became one of few successful disco bands in a genre dominated by producers.

When Chic temporarily split, Rodgers became an in-demand (and multiple GRAMMY-winning) producer for the likes of David Bowe, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger and Grace Jones. Rodgers worked with Madonna as a producer and arranger on her Like A Virgin album, although he originally did not like the hook for its titular song. His 2013 collaboration with Daft Punk further set Rodgers apart as one of the most prolific Black artists of all time.

Rodgers also owns Sumthing Else MusicWorks, a music distribution company, which is prominent in the distribution of video game soundtracks.

Bob Marley Was A Palm Reader Before He Became A Singer

The man everyone knows as Bob Marley was born Robert Nesta Marley in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. Marley began his professional career in 1963, releasing The Wailing Wailers two years later as the Wailers with Peter Tosh, and Neville O'Riley Livingston. The debut album featured the original, ska version of “One Love/People Get Ready,” which would later become a reggae hit. 

But before he became a musician, Marley was a palm reader. Marley began reading palms as a child and, according to his close friend and confidant Allan “Skill” Cole, most of his predictions came true (at least in part). The singer moved to Kingston’s Trench Town neighborhood, and stopped reading palms after he was introduced to Rastafarian way of life.

Ray Charles Broke Ground By Gaining Artistic Control

Ray Charles’ music spanned R&B, jazz and funk, and is regarded as a founding father of soul. He preferred that fellow musicians and friends call him “Brother Ray,” while others often referred him to as “the Genius.” 

Among Charles’s genius was demanding artistic control over his music and recordings. While he obtained creative license with several labels, including Atlantic Records, Charles penned a deal with ABC Records that gave him full control over his master recordings and those from his own Tangerine record label. The groundbreaking deal enabled Ray Charles to become one of very few artists afforded such freedoms, and coincided with the groundbreaking Modern Sounds in Country and Western albums (themselves barrier-breakers for the way they integrated country and pop music).

From Aretha Franklin To Public Enemy, Here's How Artists Have Amplified Social Justice Movements Through Music

John Lennon, Sting, Alicia Keys: 7 Songs For Starting Over In 2018

John Lennon

Photo: Ron Howard/Redferns

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John Lennon, Sting, Alicia Keys: 7 Songs For Starting Over In 2018

With hits from Leonard Cohen, the Byrds, Nina Simone, and more, find the motivation for a brand-new you this New Year

GRAMMYs/Jan 4, 2018 - 11:12 pm

Each New Year offers the opportunity for a fresh new start, whether you're looking to wash away the sins of the previous year or reinvent a better future that follows your ultimate dreams. Starting over isn't an easy task, but we have one recommendation that will help motivate you: music.

Don't be a fuddy duddy. Kick-start 2018 with this playlist of seven songs all about starting over, including hits from John Lennon, the Byrds, Sting, and Alicia Keys, among others.

1. The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Starting with its lyrics, "To everything (turn, turn, turn)/There is a season," this GRAMMY Hall Of Fame classic is a great reminder that everything is always changing anyway, so now is as good a time as any to give something new a chance. The composition was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, but the lyrics come almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The song didn't hit it big until the Byrds got their turn at it in 1965. Reportedly, it took Roger McGuinn & Co. 78 takes to perfect their folk-rock arrangement.

2. Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

GRAMMY winner Leonard Cohen had a knack for poetry powerful enough to move mountains, and his "Anthem" is one such gem. This 1992 tune about embracing imperfection and marching forward in the face of adversity contains one of Cohen's most-quoted lines: "Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack, a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in." And we'll leave you with one final line from the master that encapsulates starting over: "The birds they sing, at the break of day/Start again, I heard them say/Don't dwell on what has passed away/Or what is yet to be."

3. Gil Scott-Heron, "I'm New Here"

Taken from his 2010 album of the same name, "I'm New Here" came near the end of Gil Scott-Heron's storied life. The album saw Scott-Heron, according to Drowned In Sound's Robert Ferguson, "pick over the bones of his life, acknowledging the hard times and his own mistakes, but standing proud of all they have led him to become." Embodying this sentiment accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Scott-Heron's bluesy, semi-spoken "I'm New Here" brings out the poignancy of change. Its key lyric, "No matter how far wrong you've gone/You can always turn around," is something to keep in mind year-round, let alone January.

4. Alicia Keys, "Brand New Me"

Alicia Keys went full bore on the empowering messages of her 2012 album, Girl On Fire —  the Best R&B Album winner at the 56th GRAMMY Awards — including the track, "Brand New Me." Co-written with singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé, the soft pop/R&B ballad describes growing as a person and becoming a brand-new version of yourself. "Brand new me is about the journey it takes to get to a place where you are proud to be a new you," Keys wrote on her website at the time of the song's release.

5. John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"

A quintessential start-anew song, former Beatle John Lennon included "(Just Like) Starting Over" on his GRAMMY-winning 1980 album, Double Fantasy. "(Just Like) Starting Over" was the album's first single because Lennon felt it best represented his return following a five-year hiatus from music. It's also a love song, but the theme of starting over has a universal resonance "It's time to spread our wings and fly/Don't let another day go by my love/It'll be just like starting over." It became Lennon's second chart-topping single in the U.S., reaching No. 1 after his death on Dec. 8, 1980.

6. Nina Simone, "Feeling Good"

"It's a new dawn/It's a new day/It's a new life for me/I'm feelin' good." Could you ask for better lyrics for embarking on a new journey? Nina Simone recorded her version of "Feeling Good," which was originally written for the musical "The Roar Of The Greasepaint — The Smell Of The Crowd," on her 1965 album I Put A Spell On You. While artists such as Michael Bublé, John Coltrane, George Michael, and Muse subsequently covered it, no alternative is quite as powerful — or soulful — as Simone's.

7. Sting, "Brand New Day"

Sting's "Brand New Day" has a lesson for inspiring motivation to start the New Year with fresh eyes: "Turn the clock to zero, buddy/Don't wanna be no fuddy-duddy/We started up a brand new day." The bright, catchy pop tune and its namesake 1999 album resonated with fans, landing it at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. The track (and album) earned Sting GRAMMYs — Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Album — at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards.

What's Your New Year's Music Resolution?

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2017 Special Merit Awards: Sly Stone, Velvet Underground, Nina Simone

Shirley Caesar and Charley Pride are also among The Recording Academy's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

The Recording Academy announced its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients. The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and The Velvet Underground. Thom Bell, Mo Ostin and Ralph S. Peer are Trustees Award honorees; Alan Dower Blumlein is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient.

More information on the 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects, and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance. The recipients are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and/or companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.

Additionally, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books will release A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends, a hardcover book that collects two decades of artist-written tributes to The Academy's annual Special Merit Awards honorees. Among those who have written tributes included in the book are Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Queen guitarist Brian May, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Patti Smith and Yo-Yo Ma. The tributes were originally commissioned for the annual GRAMMY Awards program book and never published widely until now. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends will be available in early January.

Pre-Order A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends

The 59th GRAMMY Awards will take place Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 pm ET/5–8:30 pm PT. Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation.

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Let Freedom Ring With The March On Washington GRAMMY Playlist

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with a song

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and declared in his landmark "I Have A Dream" speech, "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."

In 2012 The Recording Academy recognized King's speech for its historical significance by inducting the recording into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Delivered before 250,000 people, "I Have A Dream" culminated the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a rally organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations that called for the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation and a program to provide jobs, among other demands.

Several artists have used music to call for a solid rock of brotherhood and sisterly love over the years. GRAMMY winners Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Mahalia Jackson were among the performers who stood beside King at the March on Washington and dared to dream of a better America. On Aug. 28 President Barack Obama — joined by fellow GRAMMY winners such as LeAnn Rimes and BeBe Winans and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — will deliver his own speech at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action bell-ringing ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

As bells toll throughout the country, we encourage you to let freedom ring by marching to the beat of our March on Washington 50th anniversary GRAMMY playlist.

"Blowin' In The Wind"
Peter, Paul & Mary, Best Performance By A Vocal Group, Best Folk Recording, 1963; GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2003

Peter, Paul & Mary's cover of Bob Dylan's popular protest song was one of two songs performed by the trio at the March on Washington. The two-time GRAMMY-winning track fittingly asked marchers, "How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?" The answer, of course, was blowin' in the wind.

"A Change Is Gonna Come"
Sam Cooke, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2000

Considered one of the defining anthems of the civil rights movement, "A Change Is Gonna Come" was released in 1964 by R&B singer Cooke as a response to Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind." Cooke's harrowing track was voted No. 12 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list and epitomizes the hope and change King called for 50 years ago.                   

"Ohio"
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2009

Although written by Canadian Neil Young, "Ohio" spoke to the outrage many felt over the Kent State shootings in Kent, Ohio, in 1970. The song openly questioned the deaths of four unarmed students who were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a campus Vietnam War protest.   

"Get Up, Stand Up"
Bob Marley & The Wailers, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 1999

Written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, this classic reggae tune was featured on the Wailers' 1973 album Burnin'. The group's signature call to action demanded people "get up, stand up/Stand up for your rights." In 1999 the track was the first reggae song to be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.

"Born In The U.S.A."
Bruce Springsteen, Record Of The Year nominee, 1985

Though often misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem, "Born In The U.S.A." actually speaks to the desperate flip side of the American dream encountered by some Vietnam War veterans. Still, the album of the same name garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year, spawned no less than seven Top 10 hits and was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2012.

"Fight The Power"
Public Enemy, Best Rap Performance nominee, 1989  

It might take a nation of millions to hold back listeners of Public Enemy's confrontational and controversial hit "Fight The Power." Chosen by director Spike Lee as the musical theme for his 1989 film Do The Right Thing, the track calls out everyone from Elvis to the American government, imploring people to "fight the powers that be."                         

"Guerrilla Radio"
Rage Against The Machine, Best Hard Rock Performance, 2000

Featured on Rage Against The Machine's 1999 GRAMMY-nominated album The Battle Of Los Angeles, "Guerrilla Radio" is the band's call to cut off the lights, turn up the radio and tune out those they describe as "vultures who thirst for blood and oil."

"Revolution 1"
The Beatles, The Beatles, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2000

A year before John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously held a two-week bed-in for peace in 1969, the Beatles released this Lennon/McCartney penned tune featured on The Beatles ("The White Album"). The song spoke to Lennon's skepticism about some of the radical tactics used to protest the Vietnam War, offering the tongue-in-cheek guarantee that everything was "gonna be alright."

"War"
Edwin Starr, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male nominee, 1970

Written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield in protest of the Vietnam War, "War" was originally recorded by the Temptations. Starr's version of this classic track helped him achieve legendary status on the soul circuit. His cover was intense and direct, simply stating: "I said, war, good gawd ya'll/What is it good for?/Absolutely nothing!"  

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"      
Bob Dylan, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2013

After the release of "Blowin' In The Wind," Dylan provided another anthemic protest song with "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Since its release in 1964, the song has been covered by artists such as the Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, and Nina Simone, among others, during both challenging and ever-changing times.

"What The World Needs Now Is Love"
Jackie DeShannon, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2008

After all the protests, marches and calls for change have quieted down, arguably no song should be cranked up as loud as DeShannon's 1965 hit "What The World Needs Now Is Love." Per DeShannon: All we need "is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, but for everyone."

Know a song that changed the world? Let us know in the comments.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Finds His Way Home
Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Photo: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd Finds His Way Home

Exclusive: GRAMMY-nominated guitarist on mining his influences and paying tribute to blues legends on his new album, Goin' Home

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Five-time GRAMMY nominee Kenny Wayne Shepherd burst on the scene in the '90s as a hot young gun of blues guitar. In the years that have followed, he has matured into one of the foremost contemporary interpreters of the blues tradition, not to mention the fertile delta where the blues intersects with rock and roll.

Goin' Home, Shepherd's new album released on May 19, literally took him back to his historic hometown of Shreveport, La., where he cut an old-school analog recording of classic songs by blues legends Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and more. Along with his own dream-team blues band, Shepherd is backed on Goin' Home by a stellar cast of friends, including GRAMMY winners Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Keb' Mo', and Warren Haynes, among others.

In an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview, Shepherd discussed the blistering intensity that burns on Goin’ Home, his GRAMMY history and plans for a sequel to his nominated 2007 album 10 Days Out — Blues From The Backroads.      

How did the concept — recording a set of blues classics and doing it in your home town of Shreveport — for Goin' Home take shape?
The 10 Days Out album and film were very well-received, and that was all traditional blues. So this album is in a similar vein, but it's a different kind of project. It's all music that really inspired me to first pick up a guitar when I was young. Historically, in a lot of cases, cover albums are just a way for a band to satisfy their last commitment in a record deal — a throwaway project. But that is not the case at all for me. This record turned into a real labor of love. And with the recent completion of Blade Studios, we've got a real top-of-the-line recording facility right in town. We've never had that before in Shreveport. I just felt that the only place to do this record would be in my hometown, where I grew up listening to all this music and where all of this influence actually took place.

A lot of the legendary blues artists whose songs are covered on the album are people you first met and even played with as a teenager, right?
Exactly. And in the liner notes, I tell stories about each one of these artists, why their music is included and the impact they had. But yeah, I first met Buddy Guy when I was 14 years old. And the first time I met B.B. King and Bo Diddley was when I was 15 and did one of my first real tours opening up for those guys. My band opened the show and then came back on as Bo Diddley's backing band. Can you imagine how awesome it was to do that at age 15? And B.B. has said a lot to me over the years about keepin' it going. So this stuff brought me way back. Vivid memories of my childhood came to the surface, listening to their music and exploring the material for this album.

For your guitar leads, were you concerned with paying tribute to whatever guitarists recorded the original song? Did you cop any signature licks?
A little bit. I wanted to preserve the spirit and integrity of the original artists, but also to interject some of my own personality — and the personalities of my band members — into our versions of these songs. So there are some musical nods. The most obvious is in our version of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "The House Is Rockin'," which I almost didn't even do, because I just didn't want to hear it from people who talk trash about what a big influence SRV was on me. But my drummer Chris Layton, who played with Stevie, looked at me and said, "How can you do an album of your biggest influences and not have an SRV song on there?" But we wanted a little Kenny Wayne in there too. So I start the solo section paying tribute to exactly the way SRV played it. But then in the middle, I go off on my own, then come back and resolve it the same way he resolves his. That was a great example of giving a firm nod to the original while also taking some of my own creative liberties.  

Do you know the John Mayall version of "Looking Back," as well as the Johnny "Guitar" Watson original?
Yes I do! It's interesting that you brought that up. We did the song as a kind of hybrid, lyrically, of the Johnny "Guitar" Watson and the John Mayall versions. Mayall had these lyrics — and I don't know where he got them from — about the girl in the song. He made her a blonde; all this stuff about yellow golden hair and wanting to follow her everywhere. And all the recordings of the song by Johnny "Guitar" Watson that I ever heard talked about the girl having black hair. Maybe John Mayall just changed it to suit him. But I liked that verse from his version, so we put it in our version.

What was it like to get your first GRAMMY nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 41st GRAMMY Awards in 1999?
I was pretty pumped about that. It was a huge honor to be nominated. I mean, I was so young. That was the first time I was attending the GRAMMYs and it was as a nominee. So that was extremely exciting for me.

Your more recent GRAMMY nominations have been for what might be called heritage projects. Things like 10 Days Out … and Live! In Chicago shine a light on some classic bluesmen. What's it like to be in that position — a kind of gateway to blues history? 
Being nominated in the instrumental categories was always cool. As a guitarist, it's always great to be recognized for your playing. The blues category, though, is a very special one for me because I love blues music. It's the reason why I play the guitar — the genre that inspired me to pick the instrument up in the first place. I have a very deep love and appreciation for the blues. So to be nominated in that category is a huge honor, because this is the category that all my heroes would be in. To be recognized by my peers in that category is extremely special to me.

You've spoken recently of doing a follow-up to 10 Days Out … . Can you say more about that at this point?
Yes. We've just started to plan the logistics of the thing, but we're hoping its release might coincide with the 10-year anniversary of 10 Days Out … . That album was done in 2004, but the whole project didn't come out until 2007. Making an album is one thing. Shooting and editing a whole film takes a lot more time. So we're thinking if we start on this new project now, in 2014, we should be giving ourselves enough time for it to come out in 2017. It would be really cool if we could have it out on the same day.

(Veteran music journalist Alan di Perna is a contributing editor for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His liner notes credits include Santana Live At The Fillmore East, the deluxe reissue of AC/DC's The Razor's Edge and Rhino Records' Heavy Metal Hits Of The '80s [Vols. 1 and 3].)