Joe Pass almost didn't make it as a musician due to his early battle with drug addiction. But following a successful rehab at Synanon and a recording session with fellow recovered musicians entitled Sounds of Synanon, the guitarist was signed by Dick Bock to the Pacific Jazz label. Pass made several albums as a leader and sideman for Bock, though work started drying up in the late 1960s as rock dominated the music marketplace.
But it was when Joe Pass met impressario Norman Granz that the guitarist's career took off. Granz signed him to his new Pablo label in the early 1970s and recorded him extensively, as a soloist (especially the oustanding Virtuoso series), in duos, trios and as a part of many studio and concert jam sessions. By this time Pass had developed such a virtuoso technique on his instrument that he was considered the Art Tatum of the guitar by many critics. Pass especially excelled in his many recordings with piano great Oscar Peterson, as the two men were energized by the stimulation of playing with a fellow master, often at a ridiculous tempo.
Strangely, Joe Pass was rarely happy with his recordings, telling liner note writer Ken Dryden that I always feel like I could have done better. Following a single session as a leader for Telarc, Pass made one final CD with Roy Clark (of Hee Haw fame): Roy Clark & Joe Pass Play Hank Williams, though a number of previously unissued collections of his recordings would appear after his passing