Born: April 5, 1960 Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric
Larry McCray - guitar, vocals
Larry McCray, the second youngest of nine children, was raised on a small farm in Magnolia, Arkansas. His father played the blues on harmonica and guitar, and his older sister Clara was a guitarist and disciple of Freddie King. The family had records by John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters, among others. McCray cites the musical influence of the three blues Kings - B.B., Albert and Freddie - on his guitar playing, as well as Albert Collins, Elmore James and Magic Sam. Larry McCray is one of a handful of talented young blues performers leading the genre across boundaries and into the new century. McCray's savage blues-rock guitar and warm, soulful vocals have drawn attention worldwide.
In the early 1970s, McCray and his family moved to Saginaw, Michigan where he took a job at a General Motors plant while finishing school. His sister Clara taught him some guitar fundamentals and showed him how to play blues classics like Muddy Waters’ Got My Mojo Working and Freddie King's Hideaway. He also turned to records for inspiration, especially the popular soul music of the time, such as Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Little Milton, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, plus the omnipresent Motown sound. Over the next decade, he worked on the GM assembly line during the day and performed with local blues, rock, country, and jazz-fusion groups at night.
McCray's hard work paid big dividends when he became the first artist signed by Virgin Records' (now defunct) blues division - Pointblank Records. In 1990, they released his debut, “Ambition,” which was well received by the U.S. and European press. It included the standout track Nobody Never Hurt Nobody With The Blues - a funky blues workout with a sizzling guitar solo. Importantly, the success of Ambition gave McCray the momentum to quit his job at GM and concentrate solely on music.
1993 saw the release of McCray's second album, “Delta Hurricane,” which was recorded in Memphis with the notoriously funky Uptown Horns. The guitarist's gut wrenching rendition of Warren Haynes' power ballad, Soul Shine, opened many ears to McCray's talent and diversity.
In 1998, “Born To Play The Blues,” moved the story of McCray's broadly appealing music forward another giant step. Bold, brawny, often dazzling guitar lines are matched with confident, soul-drenched vocals. Understated funk rhythms and crunchy rock riffs meet searing slow blues and booty-bumping shuffles.
The year 2000 found the guitarist co-establishing his own independent record company together with Koch, forming Magnolia Records. The release “Believe It” kicked it off, putting McCray on chart to continue to release albums on his own dime and time, without the business or rules of a pressing-type of label.
McCray also sights a career highlight as being honored as the Orville Gibson 2000 Male Blues Guitarist of the Year. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, like seven or eight other people were nominated, as well stated McCray.
With Magnolia Records his new home and a young son to raise, McCray was able to pull back into his personal life for a while. McCray keeps busy on the road trying to find the time to write music.
Magnolia Records released the McCray's first live album, “Live On 75,” 2005. In 2007 he came out with “Larry McCray.”
The blues is Larry McCray's business, and business is good!