News

Guitar Hero Tinsley Ellis Returns To Alligator Records

[09/28/2017]
Feral blues guitar...non-stop gigging has sharpened his six-string to a razor’s edge...his eloquence dazzles...he achieves pyrotechnics that rival early Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.
--Rolling Stone


Ellis unleashes a torrent of dazzling musicianship pitched between the exhilarating volatility of rock and roll and the passion of urban blues.
--Los Angeles Times



Alligator Records is pleased to announce the return to the label of Southern blues-rock guitar wizard, vocalist and songwriter Tinsley Ellis. His powerful new album, Winning Hand, is set for January 2018 release.

Although he jokes that he’s “the best guitarist you may never have heard of,” hordes of fans worldwide know Tinsley, who is among the blues world’s most revered, respected and well-travelled statesmen. Ellis is also revered as a guitarist’s guitarist, with famous friends including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Oliver Wood, Jonny Lang and members of Widespread Panic calling on him to sit in and jam.

Since his Alligator debut 30 years ago, Ellis has become a bona fide, worldwide guitar hero, with an arsenal of molten licks, melodic riffs and rousing, intense solos. He is among the hardest-working blues-rock guitarists on the planet, gigging non-stop for over three decades. He has performed in all 50 United States as well as in Canada, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia and South America, earning legions of fans with his guitar virtuosity, passionate vocals and memorable original songs. “A musician never got famous staying home,” he says.

Born in Atlanta in 1957, Ellis was raised in southern Florida. He found the blues through the back door of British Invasion bands like The Yardbirds, The Animals, Cream, The Rolling Stones and Southern rockers like The Allman Brothers. As he discovered the roots of these bands, he attended shows by B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and every other blues artist who came through town.

Already an accomplished teenaged musician, Ellis left Florida and returned to Atlanta in 1975. In 1981, along with veteran blues singer and harpist Chicago Bob Nelson, Tinsley formed The Heartfixers, a group that would become Atlanta’s top-drawing blues band. After cutting a few Heartfixers albums for the Landslide label, Ellis was ready to head out on his own.

Georgia Blue, Tinsley’s first Alligator release, hit the public by surprise in 1988. Critics and fans quickly agreed that a new and original guitar hero had emerged. “It’s hard to overstate the raw power of his music,” raved The Chicago Sun-Times.  Tinsley’s next four releases — 1989’s Fanning The Flames, 1992’s Trouble Time, 1994’s Storm Warning, and 1997’s Fire It Up — further grew his fanbase and his fame. Features and reviews ran in Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and in many other national and regional publications.

A move to Capricorn Records in 2000 saw Ellis revisiting his Southern roots. In 2002, he joined the Telarc label, producing two well-received albums of soul-drenched blues-rock. He returned to Alligator in 2005, releasing the Live-Highwayman, which captured the crowd-pleasing energy of his live shows. He followed it with two more incendiary studio releases, 2007's Moment Of Truth and 2009's Speak No Evil. He has since self-released four successful albums on his own Heartfixer label.

Over the course of his career, Ellis has shared stages with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, The Allman Brothers, Leon Russell, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and many others. Whether he’s on stage with his own band or jamming with artists like Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, Gov’t Mule or Widespread Panic, he always plays with grit, soul and unbridled passion. Back home on Alligator Records with his new album and a massive live tour in the works, Tinsley Ellis is ready to prove again that whenever he picks up a guitar, he's playing with a winning hand.