Eric Gales is a blues firebrand. Over 30 years and 18 albums, his passion for the music and his boundless desire to keep it vital has never waned, even when his own light dimmed due to his substance struggles. Throughout it all, he continued to reinvigorate the art form with personal revelation in his lyrics and bold stylistic twists in his guitar playing and songwriting. With his latest album 'Crown' out now worldwide (via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group), Sam Bell speaks with the blues-guitar icon in this exclusive Guitar Interactive cover feature.
Eric Gales is taking the world by storm with his unique playing style, voice behind his music, and super energising performances. Over three decades, he's released 18 albums, and in all this time, his passion for the music and his drive to keep it fresh has never waned, even though the turbulence of his life's darker days. Throughout it all, he continued to develop his craft with personal insight in his lyrics and bold stylistic twists in his guitar playing and songwriting.
Five years sober, creatively refreshed, and sagely insightful, Eric is ready for a new era in his career. His masterful new album, which came out on the 28th January 2022 on Provogue/Mascot Label Group, is called 'Crown'. On this new release, Eric opens like never before, sharing his struggles with substance abuse, his hopes about a new era of sobriety and unbridled creativity, and his personal reflections on racism. The songs are delivered with clarity and feature Eric's personal experiences and hope for positive change. In addition, the 16-track collection boasts his finest singing, songwriting, and his signature guitar playing that burns throughout. Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this is Eric at his most boldly vulnerable, uncompromisingly political, and unflinchingly confident. The album has a potency to it, fuelled by the events in America over the Pandemic, George Floyd's Murder, the unheard voices in America, Eric had a bottomless well of inspiration and passion to draw from for the new music on this album. Personal experience, combined with world events and musical mastery coming together as something truly meaningful and refreshing in 2022.
It's safe to say that Eric isn't a new guy on the block in the world of Blues and Guitar. Since 1991, the Memphis-born guitarist has blazed a path reinvigorating the blues with a virtuosity and rock swagger that have him being heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. He was a child prodigy with bottomless talent and fierce determination, and at just 16 years old released his debut, The Eric Gales Band, on Elektra Records. He's earned high praise by guitarists' guitarist and household name axemen such as Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro, and Mark Tremonti. In addition, he has held his own with some of the greatest guitarists in the world, including Carlos Santana at Woodstock 1994, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, and a posse of others as a featured guest touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour.
The story behind 'Crown' dates back to the early 1990s when as teenagers Eric and Joe were both hailed as blues wunderkinder and torchbearers. Eric is three years older than Joe, and Joe used to open for Eric. The pair went on to very different lives and careers, but Eric's full potential was hampered by his addictions. "While I was dealing with my affliction, Joe's career skyrocketed. I put myself in the backseat through my drug addiction. The world knows me, but the world doesn't know me," he says.
Eric and Joe reconnected in a big way in 2019 when Joe invited Eric to play with him onstage at a blues cruise encore performance. It was the first time the guys had played live together onstage in 25 years, and it has since been named one of the most explosive guitar duels ever, amassing over 3 million plays on YouTube.
"There was always a brotherhood with us. When we reconnected, Joe said to me, 'You're a badass guitarist; it's your turn to get your seat at the table to wear your crown'," Eric recalls. Shortly after their iconic face-melting jam, Eric approached Joe to produce him. Eric reveals: "We cried when we talked about it, he said 'you have no idea how long I waited for you, now I am going to do my part to lift you where you're supposed to be.'" 'Crown' finds Eric stepping up to receive his due.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric the day before the release of 'Crown,' a busy man about to leave to play the album release show the next day before embarking on a 3/4 month tour! He was at home, sorting out his merchandise for the first weekend of shows. He was very kind to give us some time to talk to him, and he had a lot to say about his drive behind this album. I left the interview feeling invigorated myself, questioning my own choices as a musician. A truly inspiring chat; check out the video!
It can be rare these days for 'Guitar Heroes' to have strong messages behind their music, apart from 'listen to this lick!' however, it seems for Eric that his playing is secondary to who he is as a human being and yet Music and Guitar is a vehicle that brings his story to everyone. When he's on stage, he finds himself through his music. Eric expresses his story through his playing; he puts into motion his feelings that can't be described by mere words themselves. And yet the words and voice he gives to this album show us who he is, where he is, why he is, and his vision for a better future for all of us.
Eric Gales returns with his latest album 'Crown.' The new release is available on all formats worldwide via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.
Eric Gales 'Crown' Tracklist:
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