Photo credits: Lee Tanner
On March 6, 1923, John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was one of the twentieth century’s most influential guitarists.
Montgomery’s unique tone came from his peculiar method of picking the strings using the side of his thumb and his wide usage of octaves. Before starting his music career, he worked hard hours as a manufacturer and rehearsed late at night. He played gently with his thumb to discourage the neighbors from objecting. In California, he joined his brothers to play as the Montgomery Brothers at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
The jazz music legend collaborated with his brothers Buddy (Charles F.) and Monk (William H.) as well as organist Melvin Rhyne on several occasions. Montgomery released a solo album titled “So Much Guitar” in his second year as a leader. Then, when visiting his brothers in San Francisco, he got the opportunity to play with John Coltrane’s band. He died of a heart attack on June 15, 1968, in his Indianapolis home at the age of 45.
Below is a list of some of his greatest musical accolades.
- 1965 Grammy Award nominations, (two), “Bumpin.”
- 1966 Grammy Award, Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by Large 1967 Group or Soloist with Large Group, “Goin’ Out of My Head.” Jazz Man of the Year, Record World.
- 1968 Grammy Award, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Down Here on the Ground.”
- 1969 Grammy Award nomination, Willow Weep for Me.