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Charlie Christian

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Biography

Charlie Christian (Charles Henry Christian, Bonham, Texas, 29 July 1916 – New York City, 2 March 1942) was an American swing and jazz guitarist.

Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar, and is cited as a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz. He gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. His single string technique combined with amplification helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument. John Hammond and George T. Simon called Christian the best improvisational talent of the Swing Era. In the liner notes to the 1972 Columbia album Solo Flight: The Genius of Charlie Christian, Gene Lees writes that “many critics and musicians consider that Christian was one of the founding fathers of bebop, or if not that, at least a precursor to it.”

Christian’s influence reached beyond jazz and swing, and in 1990 Christian was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2006, the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma renamed a street in its Bricktown entertainment district “Charlie Christian Avenue.” Oklahoma City is also the home of an annual jazz festival named for Christian.

Christian was born in Bonham, Texas, but his family moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, when he was a small child. Both of his parents were musicians and he had two brothers, Edward, born 1906, and Clarence, born 1911.

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  • BlindSlaves

    <3

    26 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Nicolasfvb

    he just makes everything fall into place, in the history of jazz guitar, unbelievable

    1 Dec 2012 Reply
  • LTHMPLS

    I do not even understand why you would compare RoJo and Charlie Christian. Different animals.

    10 May 2012 Reply
  • gangstayoda

    glad i discovered him! (via Ted Gioia's great book THE HISTORY OF JAZZ)

    11 Jul 2011 Reply
  • makwonda

    GREAT JAZZ GUITAR WIZARDRY AT ITS BEST.......

    27 Jun 2011 Reply
  • paintFive

    forget Robert Johnson. It's all about Charlie Christian!

    13 Mar 2011 Reply
  • Castizo

    Fly, Charlie, fly.

    1 Feb 2011 Reply
  • MAXDADMAX

    Wes Montgomery did not pioneer thumb playing!!!! spread the word, this was the inventor of thumb playing guitar jazz. guitar is the best jazz instrument.

    21 Sep 2010 Reply
  • eliot_r

    god.

    20 Sep 2010 Reply
  • BuddyDawg1

    RIP - one of the first electric guitar legends!

    23 Mar 2010 Reply
  • BillyIdolsHair

    Most important electric guitarist along with B.B and T-Bone

    14 Feb 2010 Reply
  • CompSimpCarl

    this is the muthafawkin' man

    29 Jul 2009 Reply
  • guruofmusic

    One Word. DUUDDEE!!!!

    13 Feb 2009 Reply
  • smooth_operator

    i wonder what greater achievements he would have got, if he hadn't died that young..

    24 Jan 2009 Reply
  • jstarkman

    truth!

    24 Jul 2008 Reply
  • SYL2Oh

    Great sound, prodigious sense of swing, dazzling solos, Charlie Christian shines in all compartments of the game, including its rhythmic and harmonic audacity!

    20 Jun 2008 Reply
  • oldmancallaghan

    if i could only play like this guy. i don't want to be wes or kessel, just christian. so much style. he'd have ruled the guitar if he hadn't died too soon.

    23 Feb 2008 Reply
  • Rens-

    Absolutely awesome stuff.

    27 Aug 2007 Reply
  • jimmyjammer

    holler

    15 Aug 2007 Reply
  • All 21 shouts

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