Danny Gatton, who long held a reputation among musicians and in the music press as "the world's greatest unknown guitarist," has died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 49.
Gatton died Oct. 4 at his home in southern Maryland.
The guitarist gained national recognition with a 1991 Grammy award nomination for best rock instrumental performance for the album "88 Elmira Street," but for most of his career languished in relative obscurity. A legend in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 20 years, he was reluctant to leave his family for the road. He is survived by his wife, Jan, and daughter, Holly, 14.
Gatton recently released an album called "Relentless."
"He was making a decent living for a change," said Dixie Eastridge, a friend and president of his current label, Big Mo Records. "He must have had other things troubling him."
She said friends and band mates said they had had no cause to be alarmed about his frame of mind. "He was a moody guy, but not excessively so."
Gatton resented being pigeonholed as a rockabilly stylist, referring to his music as "redneck jazz" for its assimilation of influences as diverse as Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, Merle Travis and Charlie Christian. Speed, versatility, technique and feeling were the hallmarks of his style. "He could play anything," Eastridge said. "It was a freak of nature type of talent, one of those unique gifts."