Personalities | Lee Ritenour | Captain Fingers | Guitar Heroes

Lee Ritenour (b. 1952) began his career as a session player at 16 and grew into an internationally respected guitarist, composer and producer. He has appeared on over 3,000 sessions and recorded 40 solo and collaboration albums. He had a worldwide hit with ‘Is It You’ in 1981. As for his guitar playing, his nickname, Captain Fingers, says it all.

Lee Mack Ritenour was born in Los Angeles, California. He played his first recording session with the Mamas & The Papas in 1968 and by the mid-Seventies was a much sought-after session guitarist. A major influence was jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. In 1976 Ritenour released his first solo album, First Course. This was followed up by his fusion work Captain Fingers in 1976. Since First Course he has released over 30 albums, including Rit’s House in 2002. One of his most notable works is his pop album Rit (1981), which featured vocalist Eric Tagg and contained the chart hits ‘Is It You’ and ‘Mr. Briefcase’. In the Nineties, he was one of the founding members of group Fourplay. He has been nominated for 17 Grammies, has won one and won (or held a high ranking in) countless fan polls.

Throughout his career Ritenour has experimented with different styles of music. He has often incorporated elements of funk, pop, rock, blues and Brazilian music into his jazz releases. In the early Eighties Ritenour was given his own Ibanez signature-model guitar, the LR-10, which was produced from 1981 to 1987. It can be heard exclusively on his album Rit. Currently Ritenour plays the Gibson ES-335 and L5 that he first played in the Seventies, and also plays his signature Lee Ritenour Model archtop made by Gibson.

In February 2004 Ritenour completed a project looking back on his career called Overtime. Featuring musicians he has worked with, including Dave Grusin, Patrice Rushen, Harvey Mason and many others, the CD and DVD were recorded in front of a small audience. His latest album, entitled Smoke N’ Mirrors, was released in August 2006. It featured on drums Ritenour’s 13-year-old son Wesley, a namesake of his dad’s idol, Wes Montgomery. He teamed with Dave Grusin for 2008’s Amparo.

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