On his new album ‘Crown,’ out today via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group, the legendary guitarist Eric Gales opens like never before, sharing his struggles with substance abuse, his hopes about a new era of sobriety, and his personal reflections on racism. With sessions that began the day after George Floyd’s murder, the album features highly relevant material like the latest single “Stand Up,” which speaks to Eric’s personal story, as well as his wider experience as a Black man in the US. “It’s about my life, but also what’s happening in the world right now,” he explains. “This is me letting the world know what we’ve been through.”
The video for “Stand Up,’ premiered today to coincide with the album release, illustrates how discrimination has impacted Eric’s life, and points to the way music helped him grapple with the experience. “This is for everyone who has ever felt discriminated against,” Gales explained. “We should all learn to co-exist for the common good of the human race.” The video features an appearance by Eric’s wife LaDonna Gales, and background vocals by Kim Fleming, Devonne Fowlkes, and Xavier Rucker.
Over 30 years and 18 albums, Eric Gales has been a blues firebrand, with a passion for the music and a boundless desire to keep it vital that has never waned. Now, after a career that’s gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Gales is taking his rightful place at the head of the blues-rock table with the release of ‘Crown,’ his career-defining new album, out today. Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, the songs on ‘Crown’ are delivered with clarity and feature Eric’s personal experiences and hope for positive change, creatively rejuvenated and sagely insightful. This is Eric at his most boldly vulnerable, uncompromisingly political, and unflinchingly confident.
The premiere of “Stand Up’, follows previous singles “You Don’t Know The Blues,” as well as the album’s first single, the slinky “I Want My Crown.” Here, with playful bravado, Eric sings about finally getting his due while also admitting his self-sabotaging past. Clean and focused with guitar in hand, he eyes the crown and goes for it, battling powerhouse blues warrior Joe Bonamassa in a Rocky-like epic fight. Triumphant horns spur on the excitement as the pair unleash barrages of jaw-dropping blues-shred with each player’s passages feeling like the final fury of a July 4th fireworks explosion.
Since 1991, the Memphis-born guitarist has blazed a path reinvigorating the blues with a virtuosity and rock swagger that have him being heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. He was a child prodigy with bottomless talent and fierce determination, and at just 16 years-old released his debut, ‘The Eric Gales Band,’ on Elektra Records. He’s earned high praise by guitarists’ guitarist and household name axe men such as Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro, and Mark Tremonti. In addition, he has held his own with some of the greatest guitarists in the world, including Carlos Santana at Woodstock 1994, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, and a posse of others as a featured guest touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour.
The story behind ‘Crown’ dates back to the early 1990s when as teenagers Eric and Joe were both hailed as blues wunderkinds and torchbearers. The pair went on to very different lives and careers, but Eric’s full potential was hampered by his substance abuse issues, and in 2009 Eric hit bottom and served jail time at Shelby County Correction Center for possession of drugs and a weapon. Eric and Joe reconnected in 2019, when Joe invited Eric to play with him onstage at a blues cruise encore performance. It was the first time the guys had played live together onstage in 25 years, and it has since been named one of the most explosive guitar duels ever, amassing over 3 million plays on YouTube.
“There was always a brotherhood with us. When we reconnected, Joe said to me, ‘You’re a badass guitarist; it’s your turn to get your seat at the table to wear your crown’,” Eric recalls. Shortly after their iconic face-melting jam, Eric approached Joe to produce him. “We cried when we talked about it, he said ‘you have no idea how long I waited for you, now I am going to do my part to lift you where you’re supposed to be.'”
‘Crown’ finds Eric stepping up to receive his due. The record is eclectic but cohesive. With assured and authentic artistry, Eric conjures the expanse of the blues, rock, and beyond. The record’s 16 tracks play out as 13 songs plus 3 instrumental vignettes—and these little jams are gems. The songs on Crown were co-written by Eric, Josh, and Joe, and feature contributions from LaDonna Gales, and ace songwriters such as Tom Hambridge, James House, and Keb Mo. The album was recorded at Sound Emporium Nashville, and overdubs were tracked at Ocean Way Nashville, and Earthtone Studios in Greensboro, NC.
‘Crown’ was forged in tragedy but rises triumphantly. The day before Eric traveled to L.A. to work with Joe and Josh, he heard the news about the George Floyd murder. “As I began to chat about this to Joe and Josh during preproduction, raw and unnerved emotion came out of me, and Joe furiously scribbled down notes about it all,” Gales recalls. “When it came time to sing, I had to take breaks between vocals to cry and let it out. I was sharing my experiences as a Black man, and my private struggles.”
The ‘Crown’ album journey is exhilarating, and, much like Eric’s life, winds through moments of victory and vulnerability. Along the way, Eric shares his story and his feelings through the majesty of the blues. He says: “When I play, the core is always the blues, and on this album, we go through a theme park of the blues, exploring all kinds of blues. We visit the carousel, the bumper cars, the water rides, the concession stands, and we all come out with smiles.”
Eric is touring the country this winter. He also just released a signature Magneto guitar this month – the Eric Gales Rawdawg II Custom – featuring a 2-piece American alder body, a Canadian hard rock maple neck and an Indian rosewood fingerboard. For addition details and to purchase tickets for his upcoming tour, please visit https://www.ericgales.com/
Eric Gales – Winter 22 US Tour
January 28th – Railgarten – Memphis, TN
January 30th – City Winery Nashville – Nashville, TN
January 31st – Mojo’s BoneYard Sports Bar & Grille – Evansville, IN
February 4th – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Mills River, NC
February 14th – Rock Legends Cruise 2022 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
February 19th – Lyric Theatre, Stuart, FL
February 21st – Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea 2020 – Downtown Miami, FL
March 18th – Heritage Music Winter Blues Weekend – Wheeling, WV
‘Crown’ by Eric Gales
1. Death Of Me
2. The Storm
3. Had To Dip
4. I Want My Crown (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
5. Stand Up
7. You Don’t Know The Blues
8. Rattlin’ Change
9. Too Close To The Fire
10. Put That Back
11. Take Me Just As I Am (feat. LaDonna Gales)
13. Let Me Start With This
14. I Found Her
15. My Own Best Friend
16. I Gotta Go