Chicken Pickin' Danny Gatton - 88 Elmira St. - Front

Published on March 17th, 2014 | by Sam


Danny Gatton Licks – Funky Mama

Danny Gatton is one of the truly tragic guitar heroes. After setting the guitar world on fire, he ended up taking his own life. Danny Gatton left us with a ton of great music to sift through, and some of the best guitar playing ever recorded. He would frequently win different magazine polls for best country guitarist, but he felt very boxed in by that. ‘Country’ guitar doesn’t even start to describe Danny Gatton’s genius on the instrument. You’ll find as you try to learn some Danny Gatton licks, that he was a transcendent figure who set the stage for some of current, blazingly fast players who straddle genre lines, like Brad Paisley and Brent Mason.

We’ll be looking at the tune “Funky Mama” which was made famous by the soul jazz genius, Sonny Stitt written by organist John Patton. This performance is on Danny Gatton’s landmark album, 88 Elmira St. The tune is a blues in G.

Danny Gatton Lick 1

The first lick we’ll check out is just over a standing G chord. Gatton is basically using the open G major pentatonic scale here – which has the same notes as the E minor pentatonic. This lick is a very typical country/blues lick that will work anywhere on the neck. Try to move this one around and you’ll see that it transfers up the neck relatively easily.
Danny Gatton Lick 1

Danny Gatton Lick 2

The second Danny Gatton lick we’re looking at is a doozy. This one takes us from a D chord to a C chord (V to IV in the key of G). The first measure of the lick is pretty typical D mixolydian stuff. I can’t stand modes… but many guitarists already know them. If you aren’t familiar with the mixolydian mode, it is simply the major scale with a lowered 7th, a dominant scale – that’s it! No confusing Greek names there!
Danny Gatton then basically transfers this fingering down a whole step. Many jazz guitarists will play different phrases for different chords – this is sometimes referred to as ‘playing the changes. Country guitar players also tend to ‘play the changes’ and here Gatton does just that by simply moving the fingering down a whole step (2 frets).
Danny Gatton Lick 2

Danny Gatton Lick 3

We’re back to a G chord for our final Danny Gatton lick. This one is a perpetual repeating figure. This one can also be moved down to the 3rd position is you’re on an acoustic or want to mellow things out a bit. He’s basically moving from a G chord to a C chord, but the offset triplets make this one a fun one to play. Check out the rhythm at 1:35 in the YouTube video.

Danny Gatton Lick 3

There you have! Three great Danny Gatton licks that will get your chicken pickin’, blues, and jazz playing in shape. Make sure to sign up for my newsletter if you’re into chicken pickin’. My chicken pickin’ vocabulary book will be released in just a few weeks, so make sure you’re the first to know – plus there’s a discount code AND you will receive a FREE copy of Chicken Pickin’ 101!

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

4 Responses to Danny Gatton Licks – Funky Mama

  1. l.c. smith says:

    great stuff,i think when you mention mr.gatton the great roy buchanan name should also be there as well..thanks for your lessons….l.c

  2. pierrot says:

    Id like more videos and tablatures from Danny music

Back to Top ↑
  • Newsletter

    blues language

  • New to Sam Smiley music? Get started here!

  • Master the Minor ii-V