Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flying High Up To The Sky With Texas Blues Guitar Legend Rocky Athas

Fronted by guitarist Rocky Athas, in the late 70s and early 80s Lightning was absolutely one of the biggest draws in Texas nightclub history. In both 1978 and 1982 Lightning won the Texas Battle of the Bands contest, which had over 3000 entries. They toured with the hottest arena acts of the time, including Ted Nugent, Pat Travers, The Kinks, Rick Derringer, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and Peter Frampton. Also at that time Rocky's fame was such that Guild introduced the Rocky Athas I guitar, and Gibson honored Rocky by making him the only non-record label endorsee in the companys history. At 23 Rocky Athas was honored as one of the ten best guitarists in Texas, as an inductee to Buddy Magazine's Texas Tornadoes. Rocky's school friend Stevie Ray Vaughan would receive his induction two years later.

Thin Lizzy wrote the song "Cocky Rocky" from 1976's 'Johnny The Fox' after hearing Rocky play one night at Mother Blues, a local Dallas club. Queen guitarist Brian May was also on hand for those performances and was so floored by Rocky's finger tapping style that he incorporated it on the next Queen album. May later revealed that it was the guitarist from Mother Blues who first introduced him to the style, well before Eddie Van Halen became known for this.

Almost 30 years after breaking up, Athas
has collaborated, on this project to re-record some of their personal favorites from the past, on 'Lightning Strikes Again' with Lightning veterans Walter Watson, Skipper Wilson and Larry Samford. Larry is one of the original Lightning singers and the vocalist with his current band The Rocky Athas Group.

Check out this video of 'Up To The Sky' from the album for some rockin Texas blues featuring the chops which have made Athas a legendary figure for decades :


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