Personalities | Phil Keaggy | Fingerstyle Aficionado | Guitar Heroes

One of the most admired guitarists in music today, fingerstyle master Phil Keaggy (b. 1951) has recorded over 50 solo albums, plus eight with his band Glass Harp, in a career spanning more than 35 years. With material ranging from hard-edged progressive rock to tender ballads, Keaggy is one of only a few guitarists who have been recognized as a master of both acoustic and electric guitar.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, the ninth of 10 children, Keaggy grew up in a home filled with music. On his tenth birthday, he received a Sears Silvertone guitar and by the age of 13 joined his first band, the Keytones. He began playing professionally in the mid-Sixties and in 1968 formed Glass Harp with his childhood friends John Sferra (drums) and Dan Pecchio (bass). The trio recorded their self-titled debut in 1970, and Keaggy quickly earned recognition as one of the best new young guitarists on the scene. However, that year also brought tragedy, as the guitarist’s mother was killed in a car accident, the event that led him to Christianity.

In 1972 Keaggy decided to leave Glass Harp to pursue a solo career. His first album, What A Day, was released in 1973 and would later become a milestone recording in the contemporary Christian music market. After a brief hiatus, he recorded his second album, Love Broke Thru, in 1976. Keaggy released the critically acclaimed The Master And The Musician (1978), an instrumental album that showcased his mastery of atmospheric approaches as tapped harmonics, volume swells and E-bow phrasing, as well as his well-rounded sense of composition. A thirtieth anniversary edition was released in 2008. In 2009, Keaggy and Randy Stonehill released Mystery Highway.

In the Eighties Keaggy signed a deal with contemporary Christian label Sparrow Records and recorded a string of albums. In 1988, he received his first Dove Award for his second instrumental release, The Wind And The Wheat. His second Dove Award came in 1992 for the Celtic-influenced Beyond Nature, an album recently placed at number three on a list of the greatest acoustic guitar albums of all time. This recording kick-started a string of accolades and awards in the late Nineties, including more Dove Awards and the title of Best Fingerstyle Guitarist, awarded by Guitar Player magazine.

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