WFMU Ichiban, Rock and Soul with Debbie D

Thursday, November 29, 2012

McHouston "Mickey" ("Guitar") Baker, 1925-2012

As many of you are already aware, Mickey Baker died a couple of days ago. He was the greatest non-household-name guitarist that Rock & Roll has ever known and quite possibly the greatest guitarist period. He played on countless sessions for Atlantic, Savoy, Okeh, and a zillion other labels. He was half of Mickey and Sylvia of "Love Is Strange" fame. There was no one like him. No other musician of such enormous chops would have the good taste to play a one-note solo and the power to play it as authoritatively as he did (see the Coasters' "I'm A Hog For You Baby"). We'll never know for sure how many records he played on, since he was very busy as New York's first-call R&B session guitarist from the mid 50's to early 60's, and the record keeping was not so meticulous in those days. This was before the powers that be decided that Rock & Roll was art and if somebody farted within a few blocks of where the Beatles were recording, we would know who did it and what they had for lunch that day. Mickey Baker was ranked 53rd in Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists list, behind such greats as The Edge, Joe Perry, and the guy from Metallica.

Today on my Ichiban show (1 to 3 PM), the majority of the two hours will be dedicated to him, showcasing his scorchingest recorded work and making the case for Mickey as the all-time champion of Rock & Roll Guitar.

In a way we should count ourselves lucky that Mickey Baker never became a mainstream household name, because he had the kind of life tailor-made for a horrible Hollywood biopic, and with any luck we will now be spared that movie. For more on Mickey, we recommend this piece from 2009 by the Hound (sadly, most of the mp3 links are now dead), and this amazing photograph and story by Jim Herrington.


Holly said...

Word. For other folks' edification, here's a tracklist for a 4CD M. Baker comp, mostly session work ... he plays on a mindblowing # of my favorite songs of all time!


Debbie D said...

Thanks, Holly!!

Anonymous said...

i think this quote sums it up perfectly

"Mickey & Sylvia's recording of Love Is Strange is one of the greatest records ever made and Mickey was one of the greats of Jazz, R&B and Rock 'n' Roll and his death is mourned by all of us who love guitar music."- Mike Wilhelm (guitarist Charlatans, Flamin Groovies)


Kogar the Swinging Ape said...

can't download for some reason? anyone else able to?

Anonymous said...

For another Mickey's compilation (with rarities), take a look at

Anonymous said...

he also invented the Guitar Post-it Note as seen in this picture.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.