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Guitar Shorty

Guitar Shorty (born David William Kearney) was born in Houston September 8, 1934 but grew up mainly in Kissimmee, Florida, where he began playing the guitar at an early age and began leading a band not long after. During his time in Tampa Bay, Florida, at age 16 he received his nickname, Guitar Shorty, when it mysteriously showed up on the marquee of the club he was playing as 'The Walter Johnson Band featuring Guitar Shorty.'

He steadily began to garner accolades from his peers and, soon after, he joined the Ray Charles Band for a year. He recorded his first single in 1957, "You Don't Treat Me Right", for the Cobra label under the direction of Willie Dixon after Dixon saw him playing with the Walter Johnson Orchestra. Eventually, he joined Guitar Slim's band and move to New Orleans, Louisiana. Slim inspired Shorty to incorporate more showmanship into his live performance style. Before long, Shorty was doing somersaults and flips on stage. While in New Orleans, Shorty also fronted his own band which played regularly at the Dew Drop Inn where he was joined by special guests such as T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and Little Richard. Shorty next moved to the West Coast at age 19 in order to play with Sam Cooke. He played up and down the west coast and Canada until he met his future wife, Marcia, in Seattle, Washington. Marcia was the half-sister of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi was so enthralled with Shorty’s playing, he went AWOL several times from his Army base to see him perform. Jimi Hendrix often referenced him as being one of his main influences, saying that Guitar Shorty was the first person he saw using a wah wah pedal. Guitar Shorty let Hendrix borrow one of his wah pedals until he could afford his own, and the resulting sound became world-famous as a part of Hendrix's groundbreaking signature guitar tone.

As Shorty’s popularity grew, he recorded three singles for the Los Angeles-based Pull Records label in 1959. Shorty gigged steadily through the late 1950s and 1960s. During the 1970s he worked as a mechanic, playing music at nights and on weekends. He again became a full-time musician in 1975, struggling at times to make ends meet. In 1976 he made an appearance on Chuck Barris' Gong Show, winning first prize for performing the song "They Call Me Guitar Shorty" while balanced on his head.

In 1985, he released his first album "On the Rampage" on Olive Branch Records. He went on his first tour to the UK in 1991, and there he recorded “My Way or the Highway” with Otis Grand which came out on JSP Records that year. This won him a W.C. Handy Award and garnering him interest from labels in the United States. Shorty soon got a record deal with New Orleans-based Black Top Records.

"Topsy Turvy", his first on Black Top, came out in 1993. He released two more albums on Black Top in the 1990s. When Black Top folded in 1999, Shorty moved to Evidence Music, and released "I Go Wild!" in 2001.

He joined Alligator Records in 2004. His album that year, "Watch Your Back" and his 2006 album "We the People" both charted on the Billboard Top Blues Albums at numbers 11 and 12, respectively. A new Alligator Records CD, "Bare Knuckle", was released in March 2010. He was then based out of Harlingen, Texas. In 2012, Shorty moved back to Los Angeles, where he presently lives.

Album Discography

"On The Rampage" (Olive Branch 1989)

A1 On The Rampage
A2 Trouble Maker
A3 Things I Used To Do
B1 Cleaned Out Blues
B2 Mean Husband Blues
B3 They Call Me Guitar Shorty

"My Way Or The Highway" (JSP 1991)

"No Educated Woman"
"You Gave Me the Blues Baby"
"Shorty Jumps In"
"Down Through the Years"
"Red Hot Mama"
"Hot and Saucy, Short and Grand"
"It's Too Late"
"Kick Out"
"My Way or the Highway"

"Topsy Turvy" (Black Top 1993)

I'm So Glad I Met You 4:16
I Just Can't Run Away From The Blues 4:25
Mean Husband Blues 3:53
The Bottom Line 3:52
I Never Thought 2:36
Hard Life 5:17
Jody 4:43
It All Went Down The Drain 4:49
How Long Can It Last 3:13
Old Time Sake 4:16
You Confuse Me 2:46
More Than You'll Ever Know 6:02

"Get Wise To Yourself" (Black Top 1995)

1 I'm The Clean Up Man
2 You Better Get Wise To Yourself
3 I Don't Know Why
4 You Don't Treat Me Right
5 My Baby Loves To Do The Bump
6 Hard To Stay Above The Ground
7 You Left Me Dreaming
8 She's Built, She's Built To Kill
9 A Fool Who Wants To Stay
10 The Blues Done Got Me
11 Ways Of Man
12 Smells Good

"Billie Jean Blues" (Collectibles 1996)

1. Shorty's Theme
2. Hey Joe
3. Whole Lot of Lovin'
4. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
5. Shorty's Theme 2
6. Billie Jean Blues
7. We Don't Give a sh*t & The Blues

"The Blues Is Alright" (SDEG/Collectibles 1996)

1 Introduction - The Blues Is All Right (Live)
2 The Thrill Is Gone (Live)
3 History Of Judy (Live)
4 How Blue Can You Get (Live)
5 Never Make Your Move Too Soon (Live)
6 Hard Life (Live)
7 Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (Live)
7 How Come My Dog Don't Bark When You Come Around (studio)
8 Bump The Donkey (studio)

"Roll Over, Baby" (Black Top 1998)

I Want To Report A Crime 4:06
Roll Over, Baby 4:48
Sugar Wugar 4:46
You're A Troublemaker 5:21
Don't Mess With My Woman 4:36
Me And You Last Night 3:20
Let's Get Close 3:10
I Wondet Who's Sleeping In My Bed 7:04
The Porkchop Song 2:46
I'm Going Back To Houston 4:16
Hard Time Woman 4:14
Hey Joe 7:15

"I Go Wild" (Evidence 2001)

1 Loosen Up 3:37
2 Coffee & Cigarettes 4:34
3 Maybe She'Ll Miss Me 4:26
4 If You Cant Lie No Better 3:46
5 Just Warning Up 4:43
6 Go Wild! 3:03
7 Dont Stop (I Just Started) 3:41
8 One & Only Man 4:45
9 Life With You 3:59
10 Lesson In Love 5:06
11 Put In All In There 4:58
12 In The Morning 4:11
13 The Netherlands

"Watch Your Back" (Alligator 2004)

1 Old School 3:59
2 Story Of My Life 3:13
3 I'm Gonna Leave You 5:44
4 What She Don't Know 3:16
5 I've Been Working 4:33
6 Get Busy 3:41
7 Let My Guitar Do The Talking 4:50
8 It Ain't The Fall That Kills You 5:11
9 A Little Less Conversation 4:04
10 Right Tool For The Job 3:44

"The Long & Short Of It: The Best Of" (Shout Factory! 2006)

1 Go Wild!
2 You Better Get Wise To Yourself
3 I Want To Report A Crime
4 Hard To Stay Above The Ground
5 Hard Life
6 I'm So Glad I Met You
7 Maybe She'll Miss Me
8 I'm The Clean Up Man
9 The Bottom Line
10 No Educated Woman
11 I Wonder Who's Sleeping In My Bed
12 Red Hot Mama
13 Mean Husband Blues
14 Hey Joe

"We The People" (Alligator 2006)

We The People 4:19
What Good Is Life ? 4:04
I Got Your Number 3:52
Runaway Train 4:59
Down That Road Again 4:58
Fine Cadillac 5:51
Can't Get Enough 4:23
A Hurt So Old 3:56
Who Needs It ? 3:22
Blues In My Blood 3:11
Cost Of Livin' 4:10
Sonic Boom 3:14

"Bare Knuckle" (Alligator 2010)

Please Mr. President 4:14
Too Hard To Love You 3:45
The Sting 3:22
Slow Burn 5:09
True Lies 4:15
Texas Women 4:24
Too Late 4:14
Neverland 3:59
Betrayed 5:52
Get Off 3:17
Bad Memory 3:48
Temporary Man 3:29

"Rare & Live" (Maestro Ent. Group 2016)

digital only album. Appears to contain tracks from "Billie Jean Blues" and "The Blues Is Alright"

1 Shorty's Theme [Explicit] (Live)
2 Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Live)
3 Bilie Jean Blues (Live)
4 Never Make a Move Too Soon (Live)
5 Hard Life Blues (Live)
6 How Blue Can You Get (Live)
7 How Come My Dog Don't Bark (When You Come Around)
8 History of Jody, Don't Give a Shit Blues [Explicit] (Live)
9 Bump the Donkey
10 Whole Lot of Loving (Live)
11 Hey Joe (Live)
12 Shorty's Theme (Part 2)

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