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Roy Buchanan: American Axe Paperback – August 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; 1ST edition (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879306394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879306397
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I remember asking him how he'd developed his style, and he said with a straight face that he was half-wolf..." - Robbie Robertson"

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
Phil Carson did great research here.
Kevin Cook
I knew Roy Buchanan well for a number of years, and I think when you read this book, you also will know Roy.
Ellwood Brown, Annecillo Records
You do not see this kind of effort anymore in book writing, movies or music.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mark Kelly on June 8, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not only a great rock biography, but a great biography period. Though most "rock stars" seek the spotlight, Roy avoided it. Yet Carson has managed to get closer to who he was than most bio writers get to their subjects, who give the public a persona but hide themselves more cleverly than R. B. This book is of interest to Roy fans, rock or country guitar afficianados, anyone interested in the early history of white rock and roll and anyone interested in exploring the world of a conflicted genius. Carson spends important time describing the early days of Buchanan in small town California. This is much more than the usual cursory treatment, for the seeds of who he became were rooted there. Carson makes few judgements, and lets Roy's friends and fellow players provide much of the insight. In many ways a sad story, but not maudlin. Although you wish it could have turned out differently, maybe it could not have. Buchanan was a man who had a chance at what we call everything, and turned it down to play his own music his own way. Was he a tragic figure or a hero? Read this book and decide for yourself.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MungoB on February 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was about fourteen years old when first exposed to the innovative guitar playing of Roy Buchanan. I knew even back then how skillful he was, yet dissimilar from his peers. It was a PBS special on television. I sat mesmerized and frozen while listening to the sweet, steel guitar-like sounds of his Telecaster guitar for the first time. Hearing the beautiful, yet melancholy melodies of 'The Messiah Will Come Again', 'Sweet Dreams', and others still echo in my mind 30 years later.
'Roy Buchanan: American Axe', by Phil Carson, is a special biography of a special person. The book takes the reader on a journey through the guitarist's childhood straight through to his days as a journeyman guitarist, a man haunted by the same demons that haunt many an artist and musician, especially blues and rock guitar players it seems.
Carson tells the story of a warm night in June of '72 when an ordinary, mellow man first headlined to a full house in New York City's Carnegie Hall. Backed by his band, the Snakestretchers, Roy stepped up to the mic and began reciting in a soft drawl: "Just a smile, just a glance ... The Prince of Darkness, he just walked past ..." You know the rest. His solo then rang out through the hall in crystal clarity. The audience left awestruck at the end of the show, knowing they'd witnessed a guitar great for the first time.
Roy's life was cut short; only God knows why. But at least he was able to leave us an amazing legacy of recordings. He was an incredible blues player. This book is for the fans of Roy, and for those looking forward to learning about the life of the guitar legend himself. For those who have yet to get into him, start here as well ... while listening to a CD or two of his music.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey C Schultz on July 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
As a player and guitar history enthusiast, I was thrilled to see a biography of one of the true solid-body masters. The book did not disappoint. From its opening lines describing his family life in Ozark Alabama, to his tragic and still unresolved death in a Virginia jail, this book keeps entertaining and surprising. This book rates a 5 for anyone who has a deep love for guitars, especially telecasters and tele-players. Especially interesting is the detail that Carson goes into on Roy's quest for tone. Kids take note...Roy was pioneering distortion and screaming wah sounds, long before effects boxes were invented. In fact, he would use nothing more than a Fender amp turned backwards with the speaker cone sliced for distortion and his bare hands and the volume/treble knob for wah effect. The book also details some of the more obscure periods in Roy's career. Whether or not he really turned down the Stones offer play second guitar because he was pursing a life as a barber is known only to a few, and most are dead. The important thing to take away from this book is what a treasure he was to the music world. I would have no problem ranking him side-by-side with Jimi Hendrix and Wes Montgomery as the most influential guitar player of the last half of the 20th century.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Phil Carson has hit one out of the ballpark with his biography of Roy Buchanan, a musical talent of first rank but probably not the easiest biographical subject.
This is an excellent book that gives one a feel for Roy as a person (as much as that is possible), his life as a journeyman musician, and his brief flirtation with fame after having been "discovered" in 1971.
As an added benefit, in the process of telling Roy's story, the author takes the reader on a wonderful voyage through the last 50+ years of American music; of course the two subjects are so closely related it's totally unavoidable, but I still have to say kudos because Mr. Carson has done such a fine job of weaving the two stories together in a very readable way.
Roy Buchanan's skill as a guitar player was unsurpassed and may never be equaled. Few guitarists (past or present) can even be compared to him, and many so-called "guitar gods" fall well short. But he was also a tragic figure, in many ways, and perhaps this was the price for his lofty talent.
We'll never know, but Phil Carson brings us as close as we'll probably ever get to understanding the contradictions that made Roy Buchanan who he was -- a genuine guitar god and deeply troubled mortal.
This is a nicely done book. I enjoyed it and do not hesitate to give it five stars here.
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