From the perspective of someone with grey hair, logic would suggest that you shouldn’t be able to play the blues until you’ve had your heart broken or, at the very least, until you are old enough to drive. But logic must prostrate itself before the talent of Quinn Sullivan who, at the tender age of 14, knows plenty about playing the blues and has yet to learn about the reasoning of grey hair.
Sullivan wasn’t your average toddler playing with Fisher-Price stackable blocks. “My parents got me a guitar for Christmas when I was three years old and I really got interested in it and started taking guitar lessons,” he says. “It just seemed to come natural to me at the time.”
At 6, the youngster appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and wowed a national audience with his version of the Beatles’ Twist and Shout. Sullivan switched his allegiance to the blues when he discovered Buddy Guy while watching his father’s DVD of Eric Clapton’s first Crossroads Guitar Festival.
He got to meet his newfound hero backstage at a pre-concert meet-and-greet in his home town of New Bedford, Massachusetts. “I just wanted to get my guitar signed,” Sullivan recalls. “Buddy asked me if I could play and I showed him a few notes.” The 10-minute concert encounter that ensued between Guy and the second grader has nearly 3 million views on youtube. “Man, I called this kid out and I just couldn’t outrun him, Guy later said. “ I had to make sure people knew about him.”
True to his word, Guy became Sullivan’s mentor. The maestro and his protégé have toured together and engaged in some six-string sparring on many occasions. Sullivan was a special guest on Guy’s Grammy Award winning CD Skin Deep contributing an awesome solo to the track Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes. Guy reciprocated with stellar playing on Sullivan’s 2011 debut CD Cyclone and enlisting Grammy Award winning producer Tom Hambridge to oversee the project. “He’s not just sitting in his room learning scales,” says Hambridge of Sullivan’s precocious guitar capabilities. “He plays with feeling.” Sullivan co-wrote 3 of the songs for the release which peaked at #7 on the Billboard blues chart.
Sullivan has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, been featured in Guitar World, Guitar International and Guitar Player Magazine and performed at prestigious venues and festivals worldwide. One of the youngest artists to play the Montreux Jazz Festival, he made his mark this past April as the youngest entertainer to ever appear at an Eric Clapton Crossroad Guitar Festival.
When he’s at home, Sullivan attends a regular school, likes to play basketball and hang out with his friends. Which makes you marvel at a young man who can walk on stage and front a power trio with the self assurance of someone who owns the place
In a recent PBS interview, Buddy Guy said of Sullivan “you don’t come across talent like this every day … people called Ray Charles a genius … I think you got another one here.” www.quinnsullivan.me