Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Gary Lucas Releases 'The Essential Gary Lucas'


Special guests on the album include Jeff Buckley, Alan Vega, and more.

Gary Lucas Releases 'The Essential Gary Lucas'

Legendary guitarist Gary Lucas retrospective THE ESSENTIAL GARY LUCAS via Knitting Factory Records offers ample evidence of this maverick artist's trailblazing and unique career, from his early work on stage and record with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band to his landmark work with Jeff Buckley and his one-of-a-kind psychedelic jazz-rock band Gods and Monsters, though his extraordinary and extensive multi-genre solo catalog - a truly epic body of work that spans psychedelic rock, film music, classical, electronica, jazz, blues, avant-garde, and world music excursions through 1930s Chinese pop, Hungarian folk, raga, and more, all unified by Lucas's virtuosic guitar and ceaselessly questing spirit. The album originally scheduled for the Spring of 2020 is now out today.

A long-overdue survey of a truly prodigious career, THE ESSENTIAL GARY LUCAS collects the artist's own favorite work for the first time ever, including a range of rare and never-before-released tracks. Boasting nearly 160 minutes of music, the double album includes a first CD devoted to songs recorded with GODS AND MONSTERS while the second CD compiles SOLO, RARITIES, AND COLLABORATIONS. Special guests throughout include Jeff Buckley, Alan Vega (Suicide), David Johansen (New York Dolls), Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Ernie Brooks (Modern Lovers), Billy Ficca (Television), Nona Hendryx (Labelle), avant-legend Mary Margaret O'Hara, GRAMMY® Award-winning Cuban dance heroes Los Van Van, UK dub master Adrian Sherwood, Rolo McGinty (The Woodentops), mainland Chinese vocalist/erhu virtuoso Feifei Yang, French diva Elli Medeiros, Cuban legends Haydee and Suylen Milanés, Hungarian folk star Enikö Szabó, Indian shamaness Najma Akhtar, and others. Consistently compelling, endlessly inventive, and always impossible to pigeonhole, THE ESSENTIAL GARY LUCAS affirms Gary Lucas among the most singular musicians and artists of this or any era.

Born and raised in Syracuse, NY Gary Lucas began playing guitar at the age of 9. While a student at Yale University in 1971 he witnessed Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band perform their first-ever show in New York City, an experience that changed his life. Before the decade was through, Lucas' individualistic virtuosity had in return caught the Captain's attention, and the young guitarist was unleashed as a featured soloist and later, full Magic Band member, on the final two Beefheart albums, 1980's DOC AT THE RADAR STATION and 1982's ICE CREAM FOR CROW. Lucas established himself as an unparalleled accompanist in the years following Beefheart's (Don Van Vliet) retirement from music, performing as a special guest on albums by Adrian Sherwood, Matthew Sweet, and The Woodentops, while also earning applause for his solo concerts at NYC's Knitting Factory, a haven for avant-garde and alternative music. 1990 saw the long-awaited release of Lucas's first solo album, SKELETON AT THE FEAST, earning immediate critical acclaim (including a 5-starred rave in Q Magazine). Lucas simultaneously founded his one-of-a-kind avant-jazz-rock group Gods and Monsters, which included among its many members a rising young artist named Jeff Buckley, with whom he co-wrote and performed such now-classic anthems as "Grace" and "Mojo Pin," both of course found on Buckley's milestone 1994 debut, GRACE.

Lucas has since gone on to release over 30 acclaimed albums in his own right, performing on 50 more. An inveterate traveler, he has performed live in more than 40 countries thus far, spanning China, Russia, India, Australia, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and more. Indeed, Lucas remains among the most in-demand artists and accompanists in modern music, his ever-expanding CV boasting collaborations with legends like Leonard Bernstein and Chris Cornell to Los Van Van and Lou Reed, composing and performing more than a dozen live film scores, and playing his guitar before the General Assembly of the United Nations on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017. Amongst his many honors, Lucas has received the U.S. Consul General's Award for Cultural Diplomacy, Italy's prestigious Premio Ciampi Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, and was recently named Artist in Residence at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in the UK. Check out Gary Lucas' entire biography here.

Listen to "Out From Under" here:

Related Articles View More Music Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Sarah Jae Leiber