It was about 1961 when I got my first guitar. I was 12 years old and my parents had given it to me as a birthday present. It was a “dreadnought”, otherwise known as a steel-string acoustic or “flat-top” guitar and I was excited to learn how to play it. So when an older brother of mine showed me a few guitar chords I began strumming away and suddenly I was “hooked” and couldn’t put it down!
Within a year I was able to accompany my own singing and began learning popular songs of the day like “Travelin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson and “Cotton Fields” by Highwaymen. These songs lent themselves to my novice playing ability and yet sounded good using just my guitar and my voice.
I continued to sing and strum on my guitar and learned many more songs from that era. By 1963 folk music was in its heyday and folk songs were being played on radio and television; shows like Hootenanny and The Smothers Brothers featured famous folk singers such as Peter, Paul & Mary and Joan Baez performing favorites like “If I had a Hammer” and “Blowin’ In The Wind”. I was impressed by the intricate fingerpicking they exhibited as they played their guitars so I incorporated it into my own playing style.
By 1966 I was a freshman in high school and I teamed up with some class mates to form my own folk music group. We called ourselves “The Folk Four” and we booked ourselves at several local restaurants and newly formed coffee houses in the Columbus area and that’s how I started out learning to play guitar and playing folk music.