Ronnie Earl (born Ronald Horvath, March 10, 1953, New York) is an American blues guitarist and music teacher.
Earl collected blues, jazz, rock and soul records while growing up. He studied American History at C.W. Post College on Long Island for a year and a half, then moved to Boston to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education and Education at Boston University where he would graduate in 1975. He spent a short time teaching handicapped children. It was during his college years that he attended a Muddy Waters concert at the Jazz Workshop in Boston. After seeing Waters perform in a close setting, Earl took a serious interest in the guitar, which he had first picked up in 1973. His first job was as a rhythm guitarist at The Speakeasy , a blues club in Cambridge, MA. In addition to playing in the Boston blues scene, Earl traveled twice by Greyhound Bus to Chicago, where he was introduced to the Chicago blues scene by Koko Taylor. Later he would travel down South to New Orleans and Austin Texas, where he would spend time with Kim Wilson, Jimmy Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In 1979 he joined The Roomful of Blues as lead guitarist for the Providence, Rhode Island band. It was also around this time that he adopted the last name of "Earl". As he put it, "Muddy Waters would invite me onstage, but he could never say my last name. So because I liked Earl Hooker, I took the last name of "Earl".
During his eight year tenure with The Roomful of Blues, Earl continued to refine his own style and the result was a jazzy, soulful blues style, as well as his slow burn style which fans found both mesmerizing and exhilarating. He began performing solo in 1986, in addition to playing with Roomful of Blues, and he released his first solo album on the Black Top Records label with a quartet that focused on blues instrumentals. After leaving Roomful of Blues, he began collaborations with contemporaries Ron Levy and Jerry Portnoy, Earl King, Jimmy Rogers, and Jimmy Witherspoon. It was also around this time that Earl got treatment for a substance-addiction.
In 1988 Earl formed his own band that he called The Broadcasters, named after the first Fender guitar which originally had been labeled The Broadcaster and was distributed in 1950. The first group of Broadcasters included Darrell Nulisch (vocalist), Jerry Portnoy (harmonica), Steve Gomes (bass), and Per Hanson (drums). In 1988 they released their first album, Soul Searchin, followed by Peace of Mind in 1990. The current group of Broadcasters, Jimmy Mouradian (bass), Dave Limina (organ), and Lorne Entress (drums), began playing together prior to the 2003 release of I Feel Like Going On and in 2007 released Hope Radio, their fourth release from Stony Plain Records and Earl's twenty second album. In 2008, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters celebrate 20 years as a band.
Earl is a two-time W.C. Handy Blues Award winner as Guitar Player of the Year. For five years he was an Associate Professor of Guitar at Berklee College of Music and in 1995 he released Ronnie Earl: Blues Guitar with Soul, an instructional VHS tape that was then rereleased in DVD format in 2005. Earl was also the blues instructor at the 'National Guitar Summer Workshop'. His albums primarily consist of strong instrumental compositions and traditional covers. In the late 1990s, Earl was diagnosed with depression, forcing him to cut back on his performances and now primarily tours in the New England area.
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