Gary Clark Jr.: The Young Gun is the Top Gun

Gary Clark Jr.: The Young Gun is the Top Gun


Our feature Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?, inspired by the Rolling Stones’ return to their blues roots (with a title inspired by the Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band!), made it pretty clear that a bunch of you ILYOS-ers out there love the blues. Which got us to thinking – does the average ILYOS-er know much or indeed anything about the greatest young bluesman of the 21st Century, Gary Clark Jr.?

We don’t know the answer to that question really, but whatever it is, the fact of the matter is not enough people know about Gary. With a buzz on blues thanks to the Stones, it would seem that now is the time to introduce you to this sensational young guitarist and singer from Austin, Texas. Especially seeing as he has just released a new live album.

We’ll let the music do the talking with a bunch of videos below, but in a nutshell: Gary was born and raised in Austin. He was ‘discovered’ as a teen by the legendary Clifford Antone, proprietor of the Austin music club Antone's, who’d help launch the careers of both Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan in the 70s. Antone also helped Austin become the centre of live music and home of the blues that it is now well established as.

Gary quickly became a local hero – in 2001, when he was just 17, Austin’s mayor declared a ‘Gary Clark Jr Day’! Six years later, although he was seemingly yet to try to break out of Austin (as he explains in the short Rolling Stone feature below, he just wanted to play his music), he was well known internationally in blues circles, and he took a starring role (playing a blues guitarist of course) alongside Danny Glover and Stacy Keach in a John Sayles’ film The Honeydripper.

By 2010 his reputation was such that he was asked to perform at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival alongside Clapton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and other legends; and in 2012, following the release of his debut album Blak and Blu on Warner Bros records, he was touring with the Stones.

Gary has toured Australia a number times since then to great acclaim, and in recent weeks he performed with the Foo Fighters at MusiCare’s tribute to Tom Petty, and at the Grammys, with Stax Soul great William Bell on a version of Albert King’s classic "Born Under a Bad Sign".

So yeah, Gary’s been a pretty busy fella, and his new live album Live/North America 2016 is incredible. It features blistering live recordings from Gary’s 2016 performances, and a guest appearance by Leon Bridges. The album is powerful and full of feeling - check it out here

In the meantime, check out a couple of his great tracks below, along with original versions of some songs he’s covered, including the aforementioned "Born Under a Bad Sign", and Jimmy Reed and Elmore James tunes that he’s done on the new album. For the complete Gary Clark Jr. immersion experience, we’ve also included a short Rolling Stone feature on Gary’s early days, and a couple of things from Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray that highlight the incredible Austin blues legacy that Gary is now continuing.  

If you like blues, you need to hear Gary Clark Jr. He is the top gun these days, without a doubt. It’s a simple as that.

Gary Clark Jr. - "Bright Lights"


Gary Clark Jr. - "3 O’ Clock Blues"

William Bell & Gary Clark Jr. - "Born Under A Bad Sign"


Albert King - "Born Under a Bad Sign"

Jimmy Reed - "Honest I Do"

Elmore James - "My Baby’s Gone’"

Jimmie Ray Vaughan - "Can’t Say No"

Stevie Ray Vaughan - "Pride & Joy"

Gary & Eve: How Gary Clark Jr. Learned to Play


- DL

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