While still a toddler, guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd had a formative experience that would inspire him to pursue the electric guitar.
Now considered a blues phenom, Shepherd started simple. He initially learned to play on plastic acoustic guitars his grandmother used to buy with stamps.
“I had several of those things, and I would wear them out,” says Shepherd in a recent TransAtlantic phone call from a UK tour stop. “The strings would break. [The plastic guitars] had six nylon strings on it. They didn’t sound that great, but you could play notes on them. I remember playing silly things like ‘Smoke on the Water’ on that thing. You can get the general mechanics of pressing down on the strings between the frets and strumming the guitar. You can get the concept of playing the guitar on anything like that.”
He learned to play well enough on those plastic guitars that he began practicing on the real thing. In another formative moment, blues musician Bryan Lee invited him on stage when h...