Terry Shaw's
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Terry Shaw's Musical Influences

Although I’ve been influenced by thousands of musicians including everyone I’ve ever played with and listened to I’ll try to stick to just the most notable. Following is a list of teachers/musicians/people/ that have influenced me either as role models, phases in my development, abilities, or a combination of reasons. They are listed chronologically and given an approximate “influence rating” from 1-10, 10 being most influential.

Clarence Shaw (2)
My first exposure to live music as a young child was my grandfather playing the guitar, fiddle, and singing. He was actually pretty awful but I didn’t know it at the time.

Lester (3)
Lester was the brand of upright piano we had when I was a kid and just having one around was an influence. Although only my sister had taken lessons all us kids would play around with it and I managed to learn a few simple tunes thanks mostly to my oldest brother’s girlfriend, Linda (influence rating 2). I probably would have become primarily a keyboard player had my mom not gotten rid of Lester because he was taking up too much room. (If you have children I can’t overestimate the importance of having a keyboard around the house for them to play and experiment with.)

Joe & Mike (3)
Both of my older brothers were good trumpet players and I followed in their footsteps.

Mr. Benson (3)
My elementary band instructor barely managed to keep our mob of fifth graders in line but I did learn how to read music. As first chair trumpet I got to perform solos in every concert.

The Ventures (5)
This was my first introduction to guitar instrumental music. Up to this time I had been playing a plastic banjo-ukulele so I borrowed a beat-up classic guitar from a neighbor. It was strung with steel strings and the action was about an inch off the fretboard but I managed to learn Walk Don’t Run.

Bruce Ginn (7)
My fifth grade buddy had his own private music room complete with a stage, drum set, guitars, and amplifiers. Bruce taught me to play drums and my mom bought me a used Slingerland set. After a year I switched to guitar and we formed The Illusions. Bruce showed me the basic chords and I became the rhythm guitarist and sang most of the songs. During the seventh and eighth grade we put on our own dances at local grange halls. One time we were practicing in my basement and Bruce unplugged the freezer in order to plug in his amplifier. Within a day all the meat had defrosted and had to be given away. My punishment was (and is) to hear the story repeated at family gatherings for the rest of my life.

In the ninth grade Bruce joined up with some older musicians and got into drugs. Later I heard he had gone to Canada to escape the draft. Twenty years passed. One day when I was working at the guitar shop an unkempt long-haired man walked in. As he looked at guitars we conversed a little then I did a doubletake when he laughed with a recognizable cynicism. “Bruce?” I said. “Yes, who are you?” he inquired. “It’s me--Terry.” We caught up on old times then we had a good laugh when I reminded him that he unplugged the freezer in my parent’s basement.

Mom (7)
OK, OK--All mothers have an influence rating of 10 but I’m trying to keep this within the context of musical influence. Although she wasn’t a musician she was responsible for Lester the piano and for buying me a plastic banjo-uke when I was seven. A few years later Mom gave me full support with the school band thing but was hesitant on the rock and roll. With enough nagging I was able to get her to buy the instruments and she must have had the patience of a saint to put up with my pounding and twanging in the basement. She was not excited about me wanting to become a professional musician but as long as I kept my grades up she allowed me the freedom to go in my own direction.

Ed Johnson (3)
My first (and only) formal guitar teacher was an old-school jazz player. I learned barred chords right away but the songs sucked (Nola, Bill Bailey, etc.). Because I wanted to learn rock and roll I lost interest and quit after two months. In the meantime we purchased Ed’s personal amplifier, a pre-CBS Fender Super Reverb. It was the best amp I’ve ever owned and gave me years of loud pleasure. (I wish I still had it!) Kudos again to my mother for driving me all the way (18 miles) to downtown Tacoma for lessons even after she had just driven home from work in downtown Tacoma. (Thankfully gas was only 20 cents a gallon!)

“Crazy Rich” and the Jesuits (3)
The Simpson family occupied the Catholic-owned beach house across the street during the summer. They would occasionally have some Jesuit priests over and have a “hootenanny” (folk sing-along) until all hours of the night. I was exposed to many folk standards such as If I Had A Hammer, Kum Bay Ya, and This Land Is Your Land. Mr. (Richard) Simpson owned a cool old small-body mahogany Guild guitar.

The Esquires (4)
When I was in grade school and junior high school this accomplished group of older teens played dances at the local VFW hall a half mile from my house. Because we weren’t old enough to get in my friends (future band mates) and I would stand outside and listen to tunes like Green Onions, Pipeline, and Johnny B. Goode.

Mrs. Paulsen (2)
My sixth grade singing teacher was very encouraging and liked me because I sang louder than every one else. I still sing loud although not always in tune.

Tom Pratt (6)
My junior high school band teacher from grades 6-8 was a young maverick in an antiquated system. He was a professional trumpet player and was the leader of his own dance band. Mr. Pratt was creative, had a sense of humor, and showed us we could have fun playing music while still instilling discipline. My dog would follow me to school and during first period would sit outside the band room and howl. Mr. Pratt had me bring him to several concerts where he was a featured “soloist”.

The Beatles (9)
Simply the best band ever (along with George Martin, their mentor and arranger), the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. As a team Lennon & McCartney were the most creative and prolific popular songwriters of all time.

Whenever a new Beatles album came out that’s where my allowance would go. I spent hundreds of hours with my ear to the stereo figuring out the chord changes to Beatles tunes and copying George Harrison’s licks. Much of my early development as a musician is due to the Beatles and as they grew musically so did I. I still listen to them and hear new stuff. They are a must for studying popular composition and arrangement. If you are a Beatles-influenced musician you must add the following to your list of web sites:


The Rolling Stones (4)
The “Anti-Beatles” had more edge and emotion. Many of their songs are standard repertoire and are filled with must-learn guitar riffs.

Howard McGilvrey (3)
Howard was an older local guitar player whose Fender Jaguar was covered with black tape to hide the scars of abuse. Along with his younger brother Roger on drums we formed the Brief Encounters and played many school dances and assorted gigs. I learned Howard’s rockabilly style and soon became the lead guitar player. Howard joined the army when he was replaced with a keyboard player.

Eric Clapton (7)
After doing stints with The Yardbirds and John Mayall this straightforward guitarist and songwriter really came on the scene with his own power trio Cream and has been at the forefront of popular music ever since. His blues style is must-study for every electric guitar player.

Jimi Hendrix (5)
With the advent of the power trio the Jimi Hendrix Experience sounded full thanks to Jimi’s full arsenal of unique chordal guitar riffs. Every guitar player that heard him was astounded.

Led Zeppelin (5)
Creative band with guitarist Jimmy Page utilizing electric and acoustic instruments. Many of their songs are standard repertoire. (What guitar player hasn’t learned Stairway To Heaven?)

Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young) (6)
These guys were responsible for my increased interest in acoustic music and vocal harmonizing.

David Whisner (4)
I got both negative and positive influence from my college music theory instructor. Negative in the fact that he couldn’t teach theory worth beans, which actually affected me to devise a logical theory system based on the hierarchy of concepts. Positive in that I got a lot out of the specific study of chord inversions and voice leading from him. It was also mandatory to take piano class which got me interested in becoming a keyboard player.

Beni Benedetti (7)
Beni owned the Monte Vista Guitar Shop in Tacoma. The store had more guitars than all the other stores in town put together and was a destination stop for musicians from all over the Northwest. I had been doing business there for a few years when I asked him for a job. He hired me on the spot and I worked there for the next fifteen years, teaching, selling, repairing, and making connections. With the aid of Beni’s wisdom I learned much about the music business and human nature from a unique vantage point. Working there also allowed me access to music equipment at wholesale prices. Beni’s son, Dave, took over the store when his father retired. Beni, whom I loved like a father, died in 1988 and his funeral was attended by many musicians he had helped during his 25 years in the business.

J.S. Bach (4)
My favorite classical composer worked for a church and wrote for keyboard and small ensembles. Many of his tunes were adapted for guitar and inspired me during my classical phase.

Chet Atkins (5)
Fantastic guitar player and innovator that got me interested in country finger style guitar.

Jerry Reed (4)
Although he is known for his tacky country songs and cheesy acting (Smokey And The Bandit) few people know that he’s an excellent guitar player. A friend lent me his finger-style book and I learned all the songs in it--great innovative stuff.

Pete Townsend (3)
The guitar player/smasher from The Who has influenced me in an obvious way. I have been known to destroy guitars on stage, including smashing acoustic guitars at bluegrass festivals. One time I was substituting for a member in a band at a local festival. Although I was playing mandolin I asked them to feature me on a guitar instrumental. When my time came I grabbed my guitar. Although it was a piece of junk I described it to the audience as a valuable vintage Martin my sister had given me. My sister was in the audience and I had her stand up and take a bow. We started the song and just a few measures into it I stopped the band so I could retune while extolling the virtue of “this fine vintage instrument” and how much I appreciated my sister for giving it to me. We restarted the song several times as I would stop and retune, each time feigning more impatience and anger at the guitar. Finally I just smashed that sucker to bits. You could have heard a pin drop as I looked out at more than a thousand horrified faces. (Over to the side were my sister and mom trying to keep from rolling on the ground laughing.) The band was equally horrified and it took five minutes for them to recover and go into the next song. For some reason I never played that festival again.

Mark O’Conner (9)
In my opinion the best all-around musician living today and my ultimate role model. Mark plays several instruments at a virtuoso level and is acknowledged as the best fiddler in the world by all others. He can compose simple tunes to complex symphonies.

Bill Monroe (4)
Anyone who plays bluegrass cannot help but be touched by his influence. Many of his songs are standard repertoire.

Newgrass Revival (7)
In my opinion they are the best acoustic group ever. Able to play bluegrass with the energy of rock, they are complex yet melodic and have virtuosos in every position.

Eva Cassidy (4)
She deserves to be mentioned strictly from an emotional standpoint. I own most of her CDs and am not exaggerating when I say her voice would cure the criminally insane.

ROCK: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Kingsmen, Dave Clark Five, Them (with Van Morrison), The Animals, The Byrds, Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Carlos Santana, John Fogarty (Credence Clearwater Revival), Randy Bachman, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, The Eagles, Yes, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Johnson, Billy Joel.
FOLK: Kingston Trio, Smothers Brothers, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Simon And Garfunkel, Leo Kotke, John Denver.
COUNTRY/BLUEGRASS: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Roger Miller, Roy Clark, Ricky Scaggs, Ray Flack (Telecaster picker), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Doc Watson (bluegrass guitar), Tim O’Brien (bluegrass songwriter, instrumentalist), Chris Thile (mandolin), David Grier (bluegrass guitar).