Albert Collins - Texas' Master of the Telecaster

Autor: Matthew Jorn

Albert Collins, aka "The Ice Man," aka "The Master of the Telecaster," aka "The Razor Blade," was born in Leona, Texas on October 1st, 1932. At the age of seven, his family moved to Houston. In Houston, Collins was exposed to the influence of musical greats like John Lee Hooker, organist Jimmy McGriff, Guitar Slim, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

Collins formed his first band in 1952, and within two years was headlining clubs around Houston. He started recording tracks in 1958. He released numerous singles, including the million-selling 'Frosty'. He worked under several different Texas-based labels until 1965, when he moved to Kansas City, Missouri and gained recognition there quickly.

While he was able to play venues in Kansas City, most of the recording studios in the area had closed by the mid 1960s. Unable to record, Collins moved to Palo Alto, California then again to Los Angeles with his new wife Gwendolyn in 1967. He began playing at various West Coast counterculture venues and after playing a show with the band Canned Heat, was introduced to a representative of Liberty Records. It was under Liberty that he released his first full album, 'Love Can Be Found Anywhere' in 1968.

Collins became a regular at famous West Coast venues like The Fillmore and Winterland. He was signed to Alligator records in 1978 and remained with them, recording seven more albums until he signed with Point Blank Records in 1990. He became famous for his constant use of the Fender Telecaster, as well as his particular performance style. He walked offstage during most shows while tethered to a long amp cord and mingled with the audience, sometimes going as far leaving the auditorium and ordering a pizza-all while still playing.

He toured globally in the 1980s and early 1990s from the US to Europe and Japan and shared a Grammy with in Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland for 'Showdown!' in 1987. He was named as an influence by a tremendous number of contemporary guitarists including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Coco Montoya, John Mayer and Frank Zappa. He collaborated with a number of those artists, as well as B.B. King and Eric Clapton.

Collins became ill at a show in Switzerland in July 1993, and was diagnosed with lung cancer, which had already metastasized to his liver. He died in November of that same year.

This article is part of a series of educational biographies of great Texas music legends written by Matthew Jorn and presented by Russell & Smith Houston Ford. Texas has always been a crossroads for great musicians, and Texas' home for Ford Mustang Houston is proud to share this story of true Texas talent.

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