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Albert Collins Profile

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Albert Collins

Albert Collins

Photo courtesy Alligator Records

Albert Collins Profile:

Born: October 1, 1932 in Leona TX

Died: November 24, 1993 in Las Vegas NV

Guitarist Albert Collins was a unique stylist and an incendiary live performer whose appeal jumped across the aisle from fans of houserockin' Texas blues to include many fans in the rock world. Influencing talents as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Collins rode high during the 1980s blues revival, ensuring his place in music history.

The Iceman

Born in rural Texas, Collins' family moved to Houston when he was young, growing up in the city's notorious Third Ward with musicians Johnny Copeland and Johnny "Guitar" Watson. Collins originally wanted to play keyboards, but by the age of 18 he had switched to guitar. Collins served his apprenticeship in Houston clubs with performers like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, T-Bone Walker, and his cousin, Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins.

Collins developed his own original style of playing involving minor tunings and the frequent use of a capo on his trademark Fender Telecaster. Beginning in 1958, Collins recorded a number of singles for regional labels with titles like "The Freeze," "Sno-Cone," and "Defrost." In 1962, Collins enjoyed a national hit with his song "Frosty." These singles, along with his cold, crisp guitar technique, earned Collins his nickname, "The Iceman."

Adventures In Babysitting

Upon moving to California in the late-1960s, Collins became a hit with the growing blues-rock audience, performing with bands like Canned Heat and the Allman Brothers at San Francisco venues. After five years, Collins would move back to Texas and put together a new band.

While in Texas, Collins signed with Alligator Records, which released Ice Pickin', the guitarist's incredible 1977 album debut. Collins would record six more albums for the label before signing with Pointblank in 1989. The guitarist's spirited appearance in the 1987 movie Adventures In Babysitting, along with numerous TV performances, brought his music to an entirely new audience. Sadly, Collins succumbed to cancer at the young age of 61 before he could fully capitalize on his high profile.

Through the years, Collins also performed on albums by talents like David Bowie, John Mayall, B.B. King, Gary Moore, Jack Bruce, and Robert Cray.

Recommended Albums: Ice Pickin' is the quintessential Albert Collins album, but 1985's Showdown!, with guitarists Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray, provides more bang for your buck.

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