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Influential Blues Rock Guitarist Bobby Parker Dead at 76

Pioneering blues rocker who influenced Zeppelin and the Beatles has passed away

 

By Alex Baker

 

Bobby Parker, a pioneering blues rock guitarist whose 1961 track “Watch Your Step” contained a riff that went on to influence songs by the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, has passed away at the age of 76.

 

The news comes to us courtesy of Anthony R. Rucker, a bassist who played with Parker recently.

 

“It is with a heavy heart I thank you Bobby, for all you have done for me,” said Rucker in a post on his Facebook page. “I’m so glad I had one last chance to play with you a couple of weeks ago. See you on the other side.”

 

Apart from directly influencing the Beatles track “I Feel Fine” and the Zeppelin instrumental “Moby Dick,” Parker also had a tremendous influence on guitarists like Carlos Santana.

 

“Bobby inspired me to play guitar,” Santana once said. “He’s one of the few remaining guitarists who can pierce your heart and soothe your soul.”

 

The Louisiana born, Southern California raised Parker began his career with Otis Williams and the Charms, going on to play with the likes of Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

 

He released “Watch Your Step” in 1961 and it was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

Parker was aware of his influence on the classic rock of the Sixties and Seventies. Although that awareness seemed bittersweet.

 

“I heard 600 or more blatant copycat recordings, ” said Parker in a 2008 interview. “Everyone was playing my lick and trying to claim it, the Beatles included. Even now I hear copycat riffs in TV commercials. (Laughing) I wish they’d come up with a different riff and leave mine alone.”

 

At one point Parker was supposedly offered a record deal by none other than Jimmy Page. But that never worked out and the guitarist spent most of the Seventies and Eighties living in Washington, DC and toiling in relative obscurity.

 

However in 1993 he returned to the limelight with his solo debut Bent Out of Shape, and remained active, recording and touring until his death.

 

Here’s a very mod clip of “Watch Your Step,” the track that made it all happen for Parker.

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