Get this crazy baby off my head!


Rocky Athas

Rocky Athas - That's What I Know - 1999 - Ind.

A superb guitarist in fine company. - Pete Sargeant, Blues Matters!

He played in the band Lightning, which back in the day, was one of the hottest things in Texas and that is saying something. Then of course there was Black Oak Arkan sas. His own recording career has been stellar. He’s done great work with people like Buddy Miles and the boys of Double Trouble. His reputation as an amazing guitarist is no exaggeration. This guy is the real thing. - South West Blues, August 04 Volume 7

Texas veteran and smoking gun guitarist Rocky Athas fits easily in the same league of guitar gods as his long-time friends Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. - BluesWax Ezine

Rocky Athas' first solo outing is a Grade A instrumental album which really highlights the wizadry of this guitar genius. Rocky has a vast amount of experience, through his associations with his own "Lightning" band, and as lead guitarist with Black Oak Arkansas. He has also played with Buddy Miles, and numerous other great blue and rock artists. By the age of 23, Rocky Athas was recognised as one of Texas’ Ten Best guitarists as an inductee to BUDDY Magazine’s TexasTornadoes. People like Billy Gibbons and Johnny Winter have also received this honour. As a kid, Rocky Athas played local gigs with his friend, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, in Oak Cliff, Texas, and the track, "To My Friend", is a good tribute to Stevie Ray. Rocky Athas is a legend in blues rock circles, but is still an unknown artist to many people. Check out the Buddy Miles featuring Rocky Athas' "Blues Berries" album, a terrific funky, soul rock album by the two great musicians. This album, "That's What I Know", is ridiculously hard to find, but buy the Rocky Athas Group's great "Voodoo Moon" album, and promote this guy


Think About It
D Boogie
On The Move
Rock Funk
Run Children Run
Instrumental Solo
What's That
That's What I Know (Based on Jimi Hendrix's "Instrumental Solo" from Woodstock)
To My Friend


Rocky Athas - Lead Guitar, Composer
Clark Findley- Keyboards, Bass, Drum Programming, Composer


It would be the worst hangover Rocky Athas ever had. Pantera was back in the Metroplex after yet another of their globe-hopping stadium tours, and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott called Athas, whom Dime has frequently cited in any number of national publications as one of his biggest guitar influences, to ask his mentor if he wanted to go to some clubs and jam. Athas, the seminal Dallas rock guitarist whose career has been punctuated by a job-like litany of bad breaks, was just happy that Pantera remembered him. They hit a few clubs, drank far too heavily -- by Athas' standards anyway -- and commandeered the stage at a local rock joint, cruising through an invigorating set of tunes. Sometime shortly before dawn, Athas wobbled home. I got about three hours sleep, then had to get up and go work construction the whole day while the Pantera guys were probably driving around in their "Vettes" with their cell phones," Athas said. "I'm proud of them and happy for them, but sometimes fate hands you a pill that's pretty hard to swallow." Athas laughs, thinking back on that interminable day at the construction gig. "I felt horrible, I'd bend over to pick up a piece of sheetrock and it was like my head was going to pop. I just throught, well, you gotta do what you gotta do." It's a few years later and if Athas hasn't turned into the Eddie Van Halen-style musical force the entire state of Texas expected him to become way back in 1975, when his band Lightning was an almost shoo-in bet for rock stardom, life is nonetheless much better. As the lead guitarist for the resurgent Black Oak Arkansas, Athas is preparing to hit the road touring in support of the band's first CD for the Cleopatra label, which has also recently signed Todd Rundgren and the Tubes. Too, fans across Texas are rejoicing over the recently released That's What I Know, Athas' first solo album. Instrumental record: An adventuresome instrumental record showcasing his six-string sorcery in a variety of Texas rock nuances. That's What I Know is a project that brings to mind hints of Billy Gibbons, Eric Johnson, and Andy Timmons, all the while underlining Athas' extremely distinctive and witty style. He's also been musically active with old friend. Glenn Hughes, the celestially-voiced bassist/songwriter from Trapeze and Deep Purple who's now carving out a solo career. The two recently toured Texas as part of a band Hughes put together in tribute to the late Tommy Bolin, one of Hughes' closest friends until Bolin's accidental death in 1978. The group also included Dallas bassist Robert Ware and drummer Johnnie Bolin, Tommy's brother and Athas' partner in a Black Oak lineup otherwise comprised of original members Jim Dandy Mangrum, Rickie Reynolds, and Pat Daugherty. The sold-out tour, which took place this past February, featured a variety of arrangements of classic Bolin songs as well as new and old material from Hughes' substantial repertoire. An album of a similar, earlier tour of the midwest, called Tommy Bolin: 1997 Tribute, is now out, and the just-finished Texas junker was recorded for release sometime this fall. New Perks: At 44, An age once considered old by rock 'n' roll standards (at least until Keith Richards learned how to flourish by drinking embalming fluid with his whiskey), Athas is finally embracing the perks his talents should have earned him long ago. "When Black Oak actually got this record deal," he says, "and I was finally signing a real recording contract, I was excited but not overwhelmingly so. By this point, I just thought, "Well, it happened. What's next?" The inclination at my age is to celebrate by having something to eat and watching the Three Stooges, as opposed to going on some wild three-day drunk or whatever. "But we're out there playing, and selling out large clubs, and doing some festival shows. We just did a show in Memphis with Sheryl Crow, the Goo Goo Dolls and Hootie & The Blowfish, and there's talk that the tour this summer will be opening for Motley Crue. This whole VH-1 Where Are They Now? attitude has rekindled an interest in a lot of good, older bands' careers." Long sober, Athas views the whole rock 'n' roll lifestyle with the sort of maturity that's almost inevitable if one's to be a survivor in the business. He's more than happy by the good things finally coming his way, but he tempers his accomplishments with the pragmatic realism of one who's had to face disappointment and the unflattering terrain of obscurity. "A lot of people have come up and ask where I've been," he laughs. "Well, the cool part is that I've been playing more than ever, it's just in a national context. A few years ago you could have asked where I'd been and I couldn't really give you a good musical answer. Now I've got plenty going on, and it's a good feeling." On a local front, the release of That's What I Know is arguably one of the most eagerly-awaited records in Texas rock history. That Athas, at one time the most well-known of a triumvirate of Young Turk guitar heroes that included Johnson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, it's almost inconceivable that there's never been an album of his material available. Though Lightning recorded a complete album for Capricorn in the late seventies, when label head Phil Walden was at the height of his Allman Brothers-fueled power, the company sunk in a black tide of bankruptcy only weeks before the record could be released. Over the years, Athas has appeared as a guest artist on numberous projects, but That's What I Know is the first truly representative product available. "It feels great that peole can actually take me home now," he says. "If it wasn't for (producer) Gregg Diamond and (keyboardist/arranger/co-writer) Clark Findley, there wouldn't be a record. It was Gregg's idea to do the project--we did it at his Diamond Head Studios--and Clark programmed the drums, played keyboard, bass, and all the keyboard parts and helped with the material. Clark is one of the most remarkable keyboard players in the area. Hopefully, there'll be a lot more to come." Dexterous Fingers: That's What I Know is a fine sampler for those familiar with the speed, taste and flavor of Athas' dexterous fingers. From the melodic crunch of "D Boogie" and "What's That" to the haunting and lovely strains of "Run Children Run" and his remarkable take on Hendrix's "Instrumental Solo" from Woodstock, That's What I Know easily provies a fix for long-starved fans. That's What I Know is available locally at Tower Records, CD Warehouse, Forever Young Records, Bill's Records & Tapes, Pagan Records, CD World, and off the BOA Website at www.blackoakarkansas.com. The Tommy Bolin 1997 Tribute is available through the Tommy Bolin site and through Glenn Hughes' homepage. Though the Athas solo CD was recorded without live drums, and doesn't feature any of the vocal tunes long associated with the Lightning/Athas' canon ("Home Again," "Woman I Ain't Your Fool," "Here Today" or "Gold at The End of the Rainbow," to name a few), this shouldn't indicate that the guitarist turned his back on the past or wasn't into a group project. He says it was a question of time and logistics and that future recordings with a full band and vocal tunes will certainly be in the works, though a premium on new material is to be expected. In the meantime, Athas is just glad to have the record out and is looking forward to the Black Oak tour and the release of their new album on which he co-wrote five of the tracks. "It's almost like the fans of BOA have come full circle in 20 years," he says. "It's like they had to stop partying long enough to raise a family, and now they're back, and their kids are with them. We have 16-year old kids coming up to us at shows, and they know all the material!" Athas pauses to pnder the adaptive qualities of rock music as the genre aproaches its 50th birthday. "There isn't a musical gap anymore, like when we were younger," he says. "Today, my (19 year old) son and I can go to the same rock show and get off on it; as a kid, when I was listening to the Beatles, my folks were into Glenn Miller. Big difference. Over the years, the ability of rock to change but keep certain vital ingredients has blurred all that. [ from The Road's Been Rough And Rocky. The Great Mystery: Why is Rocky Athas Not Yet A Major Star? June, 1999 Buddy Music Magazine. © Chuck Flores ]


By age 23, Rocky Athas was honored as one of Texas’ Ten Best guitarists as an inductee to BUDDY Magazine’s TexasTornadoes. He holds this honor with such noted guitarists as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Eric Johnson, Bugs Henderson, Johnny Winter, John Nitzinger, and Jimmy Vaughan. Athas grew up playing neighborhood gigs with childhood pal Stevie Ray Vaughan, and shortly thereafter flip-flopped headliner chores in a series of shows with another friend, Eric Johnson. No Less than Billy Gibbons, Pantera’s "Dime-Bag" Darrell Abbott, and the New Bohemians’ Kenny Withrow are long-time admirers of the Oak Cliff guitarist. Rocky wasn’t only recognized by Texas musicians, the English rock band "Thin Lizzy" wrote the song ‘Cocky Rocky" after hearing Rocky play one night at "Mother Blues", a local Dallas club. Queen guitarist Brian May was also on hand for those performances and was so floored by Rocky's finger tapping style that he incorporated it on the next Queen album. May later revealed that it was the guitarist from Mother Blues who first introduced him to this style, well before Eddie Van Halen became known for this. "In the late 70s and early 80s, he was the creative vortex behind Lightning, absolutely one of the biggest draws in Texas nightclub history. The band toured with the hottest arena acts of the time, including Ted Nugent, Pat Travers, The Kinks, Rick Derringer, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and Peter Frampton. Also at that time Rocky’s fame was such that Guild introduced the Rocky Athas I guitar, and Gibson honored Rocky by making him the only non-record label endorsee in the company’s history. Rocky took a further step up and received a well-earned and more substantial taste of the big time when he signed on as lead guitarist for the legendary Black Oak Arkansas. Rocky also played on BOA’s Ready As Hell LP, and his remarkable musical presence is indelibly etched into the grooves of the critically acclaimed album. Rocky once again joined Jim Dandy and BOA touring in 1996 through 2001. Rocky and the group recorded their latest CD The Wild Bunch which was released to great reviews in late 1999. Subsequent to BOA Rocky has worked as a session guitarist for Polygram records out of Memphis’ Ardent Studios, and conducted a series of regional clinics in Dallas. He has co-written songs with former Deep Purple/Trapeze vocalist Glenn Hughes and released an album in 1997called Tommy Bolin Tribute. The albums release was followed by a short US tour. You can open the pages of Stevie Ray Soul To Soul, by Kerri Leigh and read Rocky's recollection of childhood memories that he and Stevie Ray Vaughan shared. They were schoolmates and friends growing up in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff, Texas. In 2001 Rocky was busy with a followup to his 1999 solo instrumental CD That's What I Know. Mega producer Jim Gaines was brought in for the current project Rocky Athas & Bluesville. He felt Rocky's talents should be showcased in another solo effort. Mr. Gaines is also active in helping get the recording in the hands of a suitable label. Rocky's most recent accomplishments have included a project called The Blues Berries with drummer Buddy Miles of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsy's, and SRV's rhythm section Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon. The CD was released in March 2002 in Europe and May 2002 in the US on Ruf Records. Buddy Miles first discovered Rocky Athas’ inventive guitar playing in the late 1970’s when Rocky’s band Lightning opened for Miles Express. Rocky had already been named as one of the original "Texas Tornadoes". His good friend Stevie Ray Vaughan would receive his induction two years later. Rocky and Buddy reunited in 2000 and finally kept their commitment to record together. Rocky had just completed a studio session with Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, and everyone felt it would be a perfect fusion of talents to all do a blues project together. Rocky is also proud to be a current endorsee for BMF Amplification from Lewisville, Texas. You can check BMF and Rocky in the latest issue of Guitar Player Buyers Guide Magazine. © www.geneshamburgerharbor.com/bandbio2.html