If you’re pressed for time but curious to know more about the stringed instrument masters who inspired and laid the groundwork for the the classic rock generation to come, here is a two-and-a-half minute Cliff Notes guide that demonstrates Thumbs Carllile‘s uncanny ability to play in the style of such guitarists as Grady Martin, Jimmy Bryant, Les Paul, George Barnes, Chet Atkins, Hank Garland, Speedy West, Billy Byrd – and himself:
“Springfield Guitar Social“
Thumbs Carllile (guitar) & Bill Wimberly (vocals)
This musical roll call of fleet-fingered axe-pickers was recorded in 1958 and released on several 12-inch compilations plus a 10-inch EP, but never on a 7-inch — a missed opportunity for Starday to profile Kenneth Ray ‘Thumbs‘ Carllile and his special brand of musical mimickry.
“Springfield Guitar Social” can be found on 1965 Starday compilation album, Country Guitar: 14 Instrumentals By America’s Foremost Guitar Stylists.
That same year, Carllile would see the release of 1965’s All Thumbs – his first album as a solo artist – for Mercury’s Smash subsidiary label.
Oct. 29, 1966
1965 LP featured in ad above right
The following year, musician/bandleader Roger Miller – Carllile’s then employer – would reintroduce Thumbs to the listening public via 1966’s Roger Miller Presents Thumbs Carllile LP.
At No Extra Cost
If you’ve never seen Thumbs Carllile play, then you’re really in for a treat. As it turns out, Stanley Jordan wasn’t the first person to approach playing the guitar like a piano. Check out this exhilarating version of “Li’l Liza Jane” from Bill Wemberly & His Country Rhythm Boys, featuring the dual guitar wizardry of Thumbs Carllile and Curly Chalker [celebrated here in 2021] from Red Foley‘s Ozark Jubilee TV show.