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Christopher Becker Whitley (August 31, 1960 – November 20, 2005) was an iconic American singer, songwriter and guitarist.
Highly acclaimed by critics, Whitley achieved modest mainstream success, but had a devoted following. Whitley's style was rooted primarily in blues, but drew on an array of influences. In 2001, the New York Times called him "restless ...evoking Chet Baker and Sonic Youth as much as Robert Johnson".
His first band was founded in Belgium. It was called A Noh Rodeo. It included Alan Gevaert, the bassist from dEUS
Whitley played a brand of confessional acoustic and electric blues, mixed with modern rock. His lyrics often contained overt sexual references and sometimes bordered on the surreal. An avid fan of jazz legend John Coltrane, Whitley played the National / Dobro, made famous by many of the great Mississippi delta blues players of the 1930s. Whitley also appeared in the concert film documentary Hellhounds on my Trail - The Afterlife of Robert Johnson, with Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green, jam band Gov't Mule, and blues guitarist Keb' Mo'' Mo.
Because of his unique style of playing, he used many alternate tunings for his guitars.
Whitley has also recorded with Shawn Colvin, Cassandra Wilson, Rob
Wasserman, Little Jimmy Scott, Mike Watt, Johnny Society, Joe Henry,
Michael Shrieve, Chocolate Genius, DJ Logic, Ely Guerra, Goat, Dave
Pirner (of Soul Asylum), Clint Mansell and Jeff Lang.
Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Hornsby, Tom Petty, Don Henley, Iggy Pop,
Alanis Morissette, John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, and Keith Richards all
count themselves admirers of Whitley's music. Dave Matthews has said, "I
feel more passion for his music than I do for my own. I have a fervent,
religious devotion to the magic that Chris Whitley makes". Longtime
friend and producer Daniel Lanois said, "Chris Whitley, my friend since
1988. The deep soul he was gifted with is the soul that challenged his
life journey. I will forever remember his beauty." The Faroese artist
Teitur has a tribute song to him on his album The Singer. He claims to
be a great admirer and to have met Whitley drinking beers on a musty
"The post-Hendrix explosion of whammybar wankers hasn't produced a single axeman who can compare to Chris Whitley. His eerie, bluesy voice and American gothic tunes frequently draw attention from the fact that he picks like a pissed off Doc Watson jacked through a Marshall stack" - RollingStone.com