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Digital Subscriptions > Guitar Magazine > May 2019 > AT HOME WITH BRIAN RAY

AT HOME WITH BRIAN RAY

As Paul McCartney’s guitarist, musical director for Etta James, songwriter for Smokey Robinson, solo artist, producer and plenty more besides, Brian Ray has a glittering CV. We visit his home in Santa Monica to check out some instruments with a similar level of lustre…
PHOTOGRAPHY ELEANOR JANE

With the noise of the Winter NAMM Show still ringing in our ears, we head 40 or so miles northwest from Orange County up to Santa Monica. Although it’s been overcast all morning, there are signs that the California sunshine is beginning to break through the clouds as we arrive at the home of a guitarist whose guitar collection is as enviable as his regular gig.

Although he’s been a ixture of the Paul McCartney band since 2002 – switching between guitar and bass duties as the set demands – there’s much more to Brian Ray’s career than simply travelling the world and playing some of the greatest songs ever written to enormous audiences.

Back in the early 1970s, an encounter with Etta James would pave the way for 14 years as the R&B icon’s guitarist and musical director. Ray’s other collaborations have included artists as diverse as Johnny Hallyday and Smokey Robinson, alongside a host of star session appearances, songwriting and production credits. He’s also released two solo albums and an LP with his band The Bayonets.

17,000 Instagram followers (@brianrayguitar) can attest to the fact that Brian is a bona-ide guitar addict. Although his collection includes a 1959 Les Paul Standard and the 1957 Goldtop that he “rode hard and put away wet” at every show with Etta James – not to mention an incredible 1953 Blackguard Telecaster – we’re here today see some of the rarer instruments in his arsenal.

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