Chickenbone John is a performer, guitar maker and teacher. His speciality is the 3 string cigar box guitar, and he’s known as “The Godfather of The Cigar Box Guitar”.
Chickenbone John has played guitar since his mid teens, and built himself an electric guitar in the woodwork shop at school. He ended up in a few bands, made a record, (played on the BBC John Peel show), and played alongside people such as Dexys Midnight Runners, The Beat and UB40.
Turning his back on the world of conventional expensive commercially available guitars, it was a natural progression for John to delve even further back. He’d heard stories that people like Lightnin’ Hopkins had made their first guitars from a broom handle, a cigar box and some wire and after considering it for a while and doing more research, the idea of using only three strings and playing with a slide seemed to make sense. So he had a go, made a three-string cigar box guitar and to his delight it was playable. Since then he’s gone on to teach over 1000 people of all ages how to make and play their own 3 string guitars.
By his own admission, he’s reckons song writing isn’t really his thing, so prefers to draw his musical influences from a wide range of sources, including John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Robert Belfour…but don’t be surprised to hear to occasional TomWaits or Warren Zevon number in his set.
He’s studied slide guitar with some of the finest modern players such as Catfish Keith, Steve James and Michael Messer, and enjoys passing on these skills to a new generation of guitar players.