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Music acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke picture(s)/pic(s), wallpaper and photo gallery.
Born: September 11, 1945 in Athens, Georgia, U.S.
Leo Kottke biography (bio):
Leo Kottke is an acoustic guitarist. He is widely known for his idiosyncratic fingerpicking style, which draws on blues, jazz, and folk music influences, and his syncopated, polyphonic melodies. His work is often considered part of the American Primitivism movement, partly because he was signed to John Fahey's Takoma Records label. Kottke has overcome a series of personal obstacles including partial deafness and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage to emerge as a widely-recognized master of his instrument.
As a youth living in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Kottke played trombone and violin before moving to the guitar and developing his own unconventional picking style. A mishap with a firecracker permanently damaged his hearing in one ear, a condition that would be exacerbated during firing practice during his service in the United States Navy Reserve.
After being discharged from the Naval Reserve, Kottke attended St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota where he was known for skipping class and instead going to the auditorium and playing his guitar for hours on end.
Focusing primarily on instrumental composition and playing, Kottke has sporadically moved in a vocal direction, singing in an unconventional yet expressive baritone famously self-described as sounding like "geese farts on a muggy day". In concert, Kottke intersperses humorous and often bizarre monologues with vocal and instrumental selections from throughout his career, played solo on his signature 6- and 12-string guitars. Kottke's guitars are often tuned unconventionally; early in his career he heavily utilized open tunings, while in recent years he has used more traditional voicings but often detunes his guitars as many as two full steps below standard tuning.
Kottke's best-known album continues to be 1969's instrumental 6- and 12-String Guitar. This album is also known as the "Armadillo album" after the armadillo pictured on its cover, and as the "Takoma album" because it was released by independent label Takoma Records. Pressured in the early 1970s to be a folk singer-songwriter rather than an instrumentalist, he recorded with backing musicians on albums such as Mudlark, Ice Water and Chewing Pine. Some of this production sounds dated now, and in recent years Kottke has begun re-recording tunes he wrote and recorded in the early 1970s. For example, 1999's One Guitar No Vocals offered a new instrumental version of 1974's "Morning Is The Long Way Home", with the countermelody opened up from behind the vocal line, stripped of its original trippy lyrics.
In the early 1980s, Kottke began to suffer from painful tendinitis and related nerve damage caused by his vigorous and aggressive picking style (particularly on the 12-string guitar). As a result, he changed his picking style to a classical style, using the flesh of his fingertips and increasingly small amounts of fingernail rather than fingerpicks, and changing the positioning of the right hand which places less stress on the tendons. He also studied more classical and jazz-oriented compositional and playing techniques. Simultaneously, Kottke moved from his relationship with major labels Capitol and Chrysalis to the smaller Private Music label. Due to this change and the relationship with Private Music, Kottke's work during this phase was often grouped with New Age music in the Windham Hill style, although his music no more fits under that category than it does under Folk music.
Kottke has collaborated on his records with his mentor John Fahey, as well as with Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Margo Timmins, and Rickie Lee Jones. He has recorded tunes by Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Carla Bley, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Jorma Kaukonen, Kris Kristofferson, Randall Hylton, and many others. He is also a frequent guest on the radio variety program A Prairie Home Companion.
In 2002, Kottke and Mike Gordon (then the bassist from the band Phish) collaborated on Clone, an album featuring instrumental work and vocals from both musicians. A second album from the pair, Sixty Six Steps, followed in 2005 (by which time Phish was disbanded). The duo has toured in support of both discs.