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WES MONTGOMERY
 
 

This Indianapolis native taught himself guitar at the age of 18, and gained a signature sound by using his thumb instead of a pick. After touring with Lionel Hampton for two years, he came back home, and for years he worked a day job to support his family and played jazz at night. In the late 1950s, he recorded with his brothers; one played vibes and the other played bass. After several other albums, he caught on with one recorded in 1960, and played as a leader for the rest of his career. Late in his career, he made a number of recordings for the A & M label with strings and woodwinds, which bothered jazz purists but which also got radio airplay, brought new fans to jazz and helped provide for his family. Years of overwork took their toll, and he died at only 43 in 1968 of a heart attack. However, Wes Montgomery continues to have many loyal fans and is highly influential among guitarists some 35 years after his death.