Clarence Gatemouth Brown's Fender Esquire Guitar

“American music, Texas-style”

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by Jenny Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

The blistering riffs of Gatemouth Brown once rocked this deceptively non-descript Fender Esquire guitar, providing inspiration to a legion of blues greats, including Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (1924–2005), born in Louisiana but a Texan since he was a few weeks old, began his music career in 1945 playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. Influenced by Texas-born guitar legend T-Bone Walker, Brown took up guitar in 1947 and went on to become a driving force in American roots music. A singer and instrumentalist, Brown performed on a broad array of instruments throughout his career including guitar, fiddle, piano, drums, mandolin, harmonica, and viola. Likewise, his style defied strict categorization as he embraced country, jazz, and R&B. However, it is his work as a blues musician that has brought him his greatest acclaim, earning him a GRAMMY Award for Best Traditional Blues Album, Alright Again, in 1983. Acclaimed discs for Rounder, Alligator, Verve, and Blue Thumb in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have proven that Brown is a steadfastly unclassifiable American original.

As an inspiration to the great Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brown's guitar is currently on display in Pride and Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan. The exhibition, guest curated by Stevie's older brother Jimmie Vaughan and produced by the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE, highlights the life and career of SRV. Several guitars, including Vaughan's famed "Number One" Fender Stratocaster, are on view alongside artifacts such as poignant early family photographs, original concert posters, tour ephemera, stage outfits, handwritten lyrics, exclusive archival concert footage, his iconic hats, and feathered headdress worn on stage during performances.

Pride and Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan is on view March 10, 2017 through July 23, 2017 in the Bullock Museum's first-floor Herzstein Gallery.

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Clarence Gatemouth Brown's Fender Esquire Guitar Artifact from Austin
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