Leo Kottke

Leo Kottke ( born September 11, 1945 in Athens, Georgia ) is an American virtuoso on the acoustic six and twelve guitar, which was influential in his more than 45 -year career for a number of subsequent guitarists. Kottke fused folk, country, bluegrass and blues influences into a distinctive finger picking style of polyphonic music, which was particularly marked at the beginning of the strong bottleneck technique. From the 1980s, Kottke took much of the New Age instrumental music movement anticipated and is often seen as part of the American Primitivism movement - partly because he was with John Fahey's Takoma label Records. Kottke had long struggled with health problems, including with partial deafness and tendonitis of the hands.

Life and work

As a teenager in Muskogee (Oklahoma) Kottke played trombone and violin before he switched to guitar and it developed its own distinctive finger picking style. In an accident with a firecracker his hearing was damaged on one 's ear, which was aggravated by target practice during his service in the United States Naval Reserve continued. After discharge from the Naval Reserve Kottke attended St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota, where he often skipped lectures, preferring instead to play guitar.

Although his focus is on instrumental compositions, Kottke, mainly focused on some of the early albums a his unconventional, sonorous baritone, which he himself described as " Ziegenfürze on a cloudy day ." In his solo concerts Kottke offers a selection of vocal and instrumental pieces from several decades, played on specially made for him six and twelve string guitars, which he loosens his musical performance regularly with humorous and surreal observations. While he often preferred open tunings in the early days of his career, he used in the last years, as more traditional moods, although he did his guitars often true up to two whole tones below the standard tuning.

As Kottke 's best-known album is considered 6 and 12 String Guitar from 1969, also known as the " Armadillo album" because of the armadillo pictured on the cover. Urged on by his record company in the early 1970s to become folk singer-songwriter rather than pure instrumentalist, he recorded with accompanying musicians albums like Mudlark, Ice Water and Chewing Pine. Some of this period is obsolete recording technology today, and Kottke has begun in recent years, thus, re-record several pieces from the early 1970s. Example, contains One Guitar No Vocals of 1999, a new instrumental version of Morning Is The Long Way Home from 1974, in which the counter melody comes into play, which was hidden on the older one behind the song.

Permanent concert and studio work called for in the early 1980s its toll on Kottke, and he suffered from painful tendonitis and related nerve damage that endangered the continuation of his career. He changed his picking style of a folk -based approach ( with finger picks ) in a more classical style ( with fingertips and less and less use of nails and with a changed attitude of the right hand ), the less strain on the tendons. At the same time, he moved from the bigger labels Capitol and Chrysalis to the smaller Private Music label, and his music became more lyrical and less excessive. Due to this change of style and his relationship with Private Music Kottke work was often characterized from this phase as New Age Music in the Windham Hill style, although his music too eclectic and edgy remained to fit into this category.

Kottke has collaborated on his records with his mentor John Fahey, with Chet Atkins, Lyle Lovett, Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies, the Violent Femmes and Rickie Lee Jones. He has recorded pieces by Tom T. Hall, Johnny Cash, Carla Bley, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Jorma Kaukonen, Kris Kristofferson, Randall Hylton, and many others. He is also a frequent guest on the U.S. radio show A Prairie Home Companion.

In 2002, Kottke collaborated with Mike Gordon ( bassist of the band Phish ) together on Clone, an album of instrumental and vocal pieces of both musicians. A second album with Gordon, Sixty Six Steps, followed in 2005, and the duo went on tour with both programs.



  • 6 and 12 String Guitar (1968 )
  • 12 String Blues ( 1968)
  • Circle 'Round the Sun ( 1970)
  • Mudlark (1971 )
  • Greenhouse (1972 )
  • My Feet Are Smiling (1973 )
  • Ice Water (1974 )
  • Leo Kottke / Peter Lang / John Fahey (1974 )
  • Dreams And All That Stuff ( 1974)
  • Chewing Pine (1974 )
  • Leo Kottke (1976 )
  • Burnt Lips ( 1978)
  • Balance ( 1979)
  • Live in Europe (1980 )
  • Guitar Music (1981 )
  • Time Step (1983 )
  • A Shout Toward Noon ( 1986)
  • Regards From Chuck Pink ( 1988)
  • My Father's Face ( 1989)
  • That's What (1990 )
  • Essential Leo Kottke (1991, compilation time. 1976-83 )
  • Great Big Boy (1992 )
  • Peculiaroso (1994)
  • Live (1995 )
  • Live in Europe (1995 )
  • Standing in my Shoes ( 1997)
  • One Guitar No Vocals (1999)
  • The Best (2002, compilation time. 1973-1978 )
  • Clone ( Leo Kottke, Mike Gordon, 2002)
  • Try and Stop Me (2004)
  • Sixty-Six Steps ( Leo Kottke, Mike Gordon, 2005)
  • Leo Kottke - Home & Away Revisited (2003)
  • Fingerstyle Guitar: New Dimensions & Explorations Vol 1 (2010)