It’s hard to imagine how many 12 year old young men watched the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1963 and were inspired to pick up the guitar saying, “I want to do that”. I hear it all the time on interviews; Will McFarlane was one of those. Voice lessons at six years old and piano a year later, young Will was clearly as primed as the best of them.
Motown’s R&B captured Will’s imagination in High School while growing up on Long Island, NY, which helped him develop as a fine rhythm guitarist.
Bonnie Raitt enlisted the 23 year old college escapee, McFarlane, as a member of her band one night when she heard him play at a Cambridge, MA night club. He toured with her band from 1974 – 1979 before leaving the road to move into the studio as a session player.
While with The Bonnie Raitt band, Will shared stages with living blues and folk legends. That’ll do wonders for your playing but more importantly, “it takes years to play something vaguely interested and then decades to learn what to leave out.”
In 1980 Will McFarlane joined the famed Muscle Shoals “Swampers”; He moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to play and learn from Jimmy Johnson and the boys. Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton, Etta James and Johnnie Taylor are a few that get off hand mention as clients of Muscle Shoals Sound. The full list is staggering.
In this single shot video taken in his home with a small hand held camcorder he imparts some of the wisdom he’s learned alone the journey.