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Talkin' Blues: Mickey Baker's Powerful and Influential Guitar Style

The following content is related to the March 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

Last November, we lost an icon of American music, Mickey “Guitar” Baker. Though Baker was best known to the general public as half of Mickey & Sylvia, who hit the charts in 1956 with their million-selling single “Love Is Strange,” his influence on the sound of modern guitar was more widely felt through his work as a New York–based R&B session guitarist and his pioneering electric guitar method books.

Born in 1925, Baker took up music in his late teens and struggled to survive as a jazz guitarist until he switched his focus to blues and R&B. By the early Fifties, he had become a first-call session player behind such vocalists as Big Maybelle, Big Joe Turner and Ruth Brown. In the studio, he had a gift for inventing catchy backing parts