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Nels Cline


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Los Angeles, United States (1978 – present)

Nels Cline (born in Los Angeles in 1956) is an American guitarist and composer. Currently he is the lead guitarist of the rock band Wilco. Nels began to play guitar at age 12 when his twin brother, Alex Cline took up the drums. Cline is not classically trained. This gives him a unique avant-garde style that many other fail to match, due to their probable conventional training. He is noted for his apt use of effects pedals and looping devices, which enhances his style and gives his approach to and music a distinct sound.

Cline is known for his improvisational work and for the diversity of his musical projects. He has played with jazz musicians Charlie Haden, Gregg Bendian, Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia and the late bassist Eric von Essen, a longtime musical companion in the L.A. jazz group Quartet Music.

Cline has also performed and recorded with punk rock hero Mike Watt in his touring bands The Crew of the Flying Saucer and The Black Gang, as well as with members of Sonic Youth and country music legend Willie Nelson, and in the jazz/punk/improv band Banyan with Watt and ex-Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins. He frequently participates in jazz projects with his twin brother, Alex, however their first actual duo together was in Culver City, California, during their 50th birthday show.

Nels’s first appearance on an album was on Vinny Golia’s 1978 record, Openhearted, and his first work as a bandleader was 1988’s Angelica. In the late 1980s, Cline formed the Nels Cline Trio, which featured his guitar playing complemented by Mark London Sims at bass and Michael Preussner at drums.


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  • fastlane01

    very talented, to say the least, and to think there was once a music teacher who tried to quit him playing..

    14 Mar 1:53pm Reply
  • xspikex

    Where to start with his solo stuff? Something like Impossible Germany and his Stuff with Mike Watt,Geraldine Fibbers and Lee Ranaldo would be preferred.

    16 Feb 2014 Reply
  • sanjeevrau

    nelly nel nel

    25 Nov 2013 Reply
  • Ikresusto

    11 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Ikresusto

    Really knows how to use effects.. . (Y)

    11 Dec 2011 Reply
  • murmler3

    @restinagony & @JohnnyCanuck: Cline didn't ruin Wilco & vice versa. He just loves playing different kinds of music. So hard to understand? Do you listen to just one kind of music (I'll check that out,later :-) No Borders! Greetings from Germany, micha

    8 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Younghappy

    Nels Cline is a wizard.

    24 Oct 2011 Reply
  • restinagony

    Whoever thinks that he ruined Wilco needs a reality check, because Wilco ruined Cline.

    21 Oct 2011 Reply
  • Aero26

    Heavy metal jazz.

    22 Sep 2011 Reply
  • rod32lop

    Pois é...

    8 Mar 2011 Reply
  • ArsNovaWorkshop

    On February 22, The Celestial Septet (Nels Cline Singers w/ ROVA) is playing Philadelphia. Sign up here for a free live webcast of the concert:

    18 Feb 2011 Reply
  • postymcpostertn

    Great show in Portland on Sunday. I have tons of photos over here: ~Dan

    2 Feb 2011 Reply
  • Monty__

    If you've ever seen Wilco live, it should be absolutely impossible to say that Cline ruined them.

    1 Dec 2010 Reply
  • rhinowing

    i don't think he ruined wilco, but i was expecting a lot more from that collaboration...side with the seeds is pretty awesome though

    8 Nov 2010 Reply
  • erikdardan

    Dirty Baby is one album where I actually kind of enjoy having the titles strewn across my page in all caps.

    5 Nov 2010 Reply
  • dead_flag_jazz

    wow, that's really interesting.

    11 Jul 2010 Reply
  • PATMAN2288

    You all must listen to Steuart Liebig's Pomegranate. Nels and Alex both play on it.

    11 Oct 2009 Reply
  • JohnnyCanuck

    Listen to the solo in, well, listen to their earlier albums and understand that it's not for the guitar solos that I listen to Wilco. Although I do have to admit, he did an amazing rendition of At Least That's What I Said when I saw them live.

    25 Aug 2009 Reply
  • bryantee

    Ruined Wilco? F you (just kidding). Listen to the solo in Impossible Germany.

    19 Aug 2009 Reply
  • JohnnyCanuck

    Okay, he isn't that powerful to have done it on his own. However a great musician he is (And I do agree he is!), Wilco is definitely not a match made in heaven.

    30 Jul 2009 Reply
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