||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (March 2011)|
|Birth name||Tinsley Ellis|
June 4, 1957 |
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
|Instruments||Vocals, electric guitar|
His love for electric blues grew by listening to British Invasion bands such as The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, and The Rolling Stones. Inspired by a live appearance by B.B. King, he was determined to become a blues guitarist. In 1975, he played with the Haygood Band while attending Emory near Atlanta. Two years later, already an accomplished musician, he returned to Atlanta and joined his first band, The Alley Cats, a group that included Preston Hubbard of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Mike Marinelli, saxophonist who was a Berklee College of Music woodwind instructor. Ellis graduated from Emory University in 1979 with a degree in history. In 1981 he formed The Heartfixers, with the singer and harmonica player Chicago Bob Nelson. The group recorded three albums for the small Landslide record label, one with the singer, Nappy Brown before breaking up in 1988. In 1988 Ellis signed a recording contract with Chicago’s Alligator Records. According to Billboard, “nobody has released more consistently excellent blues albums than Atlanta’s Tinsley Ellis. He sings like a man possessed and wields a mean lead guitar.”
His debut solo album on Alligator Records, Georgia Blue, was released in 1988. Alligator then reissued two of his earlier CDs, Cool On It and Tore Up (featuring Nappy Brown). Ellis' next four releases were Fanning the Flames (1989), Trouble Time (1992), Storm Warning (1994), and Fire It Up (1997). Artists including Peter Buck (of R.E.M.) Derek Trucks and Chuck Leavell joined him in the studio. He worked with record producers, Eddy Offord and Tom Dowd.
Ellis’ reputation and media coverage continued to grow. He appeared on NBC-TV Sports during the network’s 1996 Summer Olympics coverage. Rolling Stone said, “On assertive originals and standards by the likes of Jimmy Reed and Junior Wells, Atlanta's Tinsley Ellis unleashes feral blues guitar. Nonstop gigging has sharpened his six-string to a razor's edge…his eloquence dazzles…he also achieves pyrotechnics that rival early Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton."
Ellis shifted to Capricorn Records in 2000 and released Kingpin. In 2002 he joined Telarc Records, producing two CDs: Hell or High Water and The Hard Way. All the while Ellis never stopped touring. "A musician never got famous by staying home," Ellis says. Ellis claims to have performed live, at least once, in all 50 United States.
He returned to Alligator Records in 2005 with the live album, Live! Highwayman. In 2007 he released the studio album, Moment of Truth, followed in 2009 with Speak No Evil. Ellis continues to tour over 150 nights a year around the world.
He has shared stages with Warren Haynes, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Thackery, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and Buddy Guy. He often plays smaller venues that allow the band a more personal contact with the audience.
- 1986 - Cool on It (with The Heartfixers)
- 1988 - Georgia Blue
- 1989 - Fanning the Flames
- 1992 - Trouble Time
- 1994 - Storm Warning
- 1997 - Fire it Up
- 2000 - Kingpin
- 2002 - Hell or High Water
- 2004 - The Hard Way
- 2005 - Live! Highwayman
- 2007 - Moment of Truth
- 2009 - Speak No Evil
- 2013 - Get It!
- 1996 - A Celebration of Blues: The New Breed
- "Biography by Steve Huey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. pp. 109–110. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- "Billboard review". Billboard (New York). 26 June 2007.
- Evans, Paul (October 6, 1994). "Storm Warning". Rolling Stone.
- Official website
- Tinsley Ellis at Alligator Records
- Tinsley Ellis at AllMusic
- Tinsley Ellis Interview on TheWaster.com
- The Daily Times Tinsley Ellis Interview/review
- Tinsley Ellis Bluesquest interview