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Lenny Breau

Nate Dorward

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  • 1 year later...

The Velvet Touch of Lenny Breau was my intro, too. Recorded at Shelly's Manne Hole, if I remember correctly. Damn he was good. One of a kind. I heard a year or two ago that he was found dead in a swimming pool where he lived ('84?) - originally thought to be a drowning, it came out that he was murdered. Still unresolved as far as I know. Man, what a waste.


Lenny was found dead as mentioned above at the Langham Apartments (715 S. Normandie Ave Los Angeles). I lived there at the time in Apt#619. In viewing Google aerial images lately, it looks like they may have cemented up that great rooftop pool that had been there since 1927. Jewel (2nd wife) used to come over to my apartment to complain (get away??) about Lenny and for consolation. Sometimes, Lenny and Jewel would come over and it seemed like I was playing Marriage Counselor to them. At the time, I was single and 28 but have always had a knack for listening to people's problems and helping them. Jewel never showed to me the temper and language that I just found out about over the Web (yelling/cursing at him during one of his performances, if true). Lenny was more subdued. Jewel was a very attractive woman with shoulder length straight brunette hair. I just found an old photo of her ("Centaur" album-Joanne Glasscock--birth name) and as you can see by the album cover, she was indeed an attractive woman, although when I knew her in 1984, she was a slight "hip-y". It's been almost 25 years, so I can't recall the specifics of these "marriage counseling" sessions the 3 of us had. I was just trying to help "patch" up a marriage that wasn't going too well. The one thing I do remember, is when they found Lenny's body, the LAPD came to my apartment to ask me questions. I was nervous, as I had never been in that situation before. Physically, yes, I could see Jewel perpetrating the strangulation (or having someone else do the dirty work?) Granted, Lenny had a history of alchohol and drugs and presumeably Jewel had a temper history, so who's to say how his death played out. Just thought I would add my 2 cents worth on the subject for anyone's interest.

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Guest Bill Barton

It's interesting that this thread just came back up... I've been thinking about him recently. Unfortunately, I have very little recorded music of his in the collection.

When I was about seven or eight years old I heard him play with Hal "Lone" Pine and Betty Cody (his parents) in New Hampshire. This was one of the most popular country groups in the New England area at the time. He was very young, around 16 at the time if my math is correct, and was without question the "star" of the show. He transcended labels or genre pigeonholes even at this age. His playing at that outdoor concert was one of the things that got me interested in jazz in the first place, sort of through osmosis, as about four or five years later I heard some of Chet Atkins' more adventurous recordings that used vintage jazz/swing/big band tunes as jumping off points, and I started to get interested in exactly "what is this stuff?" Then I thought back to that concert in New Hampshire... If memory serves, Breau was playing decidedly jazz-oriented solos in a "hillbilly" music context even way back then.

Edited by Bill Barton
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  • 6 months later...
  • 9 months later...

Up again for this one.

Just been watching that CBC Winnipeg documentary about the first Chet Atkins RCA recording session and the session boss on there actually says on the film that they are going to bombard radio stations with copies of this album, with an aim to get it heard by students/young people. Guess it must have worked. :lol:

I've heard his first two RCA albums, and although the first is tightly produced (by Chet Atkins, iirc) and the second is a somewhat rambling (at times) live date, both would be "essential" listeniong for fans, I'd think.

The first one, in fact, was my introduction to Breau. Heard "King Of The Road" on a Tyler, tx "Easy Listening" FM station in 1972 and flipped out. For some reason, the "DJ" (a misonomer of sorts, since on those type of stations, all they did was pop in every half hour and give the weather forecast) announced the artist. If that tune sounds like an unlikely vehicle for some truly amazing guitar playing, well, so be it.

Guess he was a fan!

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I'd recommend it based on your interest Nate. It is called CHANCE MEETING. I first heard this years ago in college on a video. I think it was just called "Tal Farlow" though I really can't remember. I remember thinking these guys were out of this world. At the time, I hadn't heard anyone play guitar with that kind of fluidity and there they were, two grown men smiling and having a great time doing something I didn't know was possible. I'm pretty sure it was recorded in a local bar near Tal's home.

The CBC Winnipeg film actually has film of Lenny and Tal playing together in duet at a location in New Jersey. Tal's home?

There's also a very fine documentary put together by Lenny's daughter with Judi Singh - 'The Genius of Lenny Breau'. Approx. 90 minutes.

Edited by sidewinder
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  • 5 months later...

The four Lenny Breau albums I've heard are some of my favourite records--Mo' Breau, Five o'Clock Bells, Quietude & Legacy (the first two are now available doubled-up on a signle CD, the latter two are now available as Live at Bourbon Street, though I still just have the original LPs). I was wondering what else of his people had heard, & how it was. Randy Bachman has recently been digging up a lot of previously unreleased material, & I know some of his other recordings have been issued on CD. My impression was that the available documentation was rather haphazard, given Breau's short & messy life, but I was curious what else was worth getting.

The good news is that there's a forthcoming bio of Breau--Daryl Angier at Coda tells me they'll be running an excerpt from it later this year.

I own a bootleg cd of Lenny and Danny Gatton at the Cellar Door in Washington, DC. Lenny brought his amp - a 15 watt Ampeg - in to Long and McQuade here in Toronto for repairs at least once a week. The bootleg is great for content, but just a little wobbly as far as audio production.

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