Kenny Wayne Shepherd: from teen prodigy to blues legend
WHEN Kenny Wayne Shepherd first toured Australia, he was a teen guitar prodigy who ushered in a new chart-topping era for the blues.
His first two records sold more than one million copies worldwide before he reached his twenties and set him up for a 25-year-career keeping the blues tradition alive.
Back in Australia for his first tour in six years, Shepherd said he initially drew inspiration for his own songs from the legends including B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton.
Now he has more contemporary inspiration, his wife Hannah Gibson, the eldest daughter of actor Mel Gibson, and their five children.
“We’ve already been working on the next album and there’s a song I about eight or 10 years ago, when we first started having children,” he said.
“It’s a love song from a father to his children, there’s been lots of them over the years, one called Who’s Gonna Catch You Now about the realisation I had becoming a new parent and the biggest lesson about having children is you have to let go of the result.
“You get them started and then you have to let go. I haven’t even gotten there yet because my eldest is only 11 years old but I can see it coming.”
Shepherd’s is equally passionate about cars, and is currently restoring his 12th vehicle.
He joked his wife has ruled out him building his collection to the level of famous enthusiasts such as Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld who have collected hundreds of cars.
“It’s a toss up for me between cars and guitars. Before I could play guitar, I loved cars and my favourite shows on TV and movies was Dukes of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit, all those shows.
“We are working on car No. 11 or 12 which is nothing compared to Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld, they have incredible collections.
My wife is like ‘you don’t need to have 200 cars’. I think she wants me at home more.”
Shepherd credits the longevity of his career to the timelessness of the blues and devotion of fans of the genre which isn’t tied to the pop or rock trends.
“Being labelled as a blues artist, even a rock artist, nowadays people would look at that as something that might hold you back,” he said.
“The reality is the fans of blues music are lifelong fans, these are not fair weather people. They have a passion for it and it’s forever.
“So you can have a lifelong career and that’s not possible with all genres.”
Kenny Wayne Shepherd performs at the Enmore Theatre on Thursday, Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane on Friday and Forum, Melbourne, on Saturday.