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Arlen Roth

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Arlen Roth

Arlen Roth
Background information
Also known as "Master of the Telecaster", "King of All Guitar Teachers", "The World's Guitar Teacher", "Chief Bender", "The Guitarist's Guitarist"
Born October 30, 1952
Origin Bronx, New York, USA
Genres Americana, Pop, Blues, Country
Occupation(s) Guitarist, author, instructor, performer.
Instruments Guitar, Dobro, Slide Guitar, Mandolin, Lap Steel, Pedal Steel
Years active 1963-present
Labels Rounder, Aquinnah, Flying Fish, Breaking Records
Associated acts Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, John Prine, Phoebe Snow, Eric Andersen, Kate Taylor, Tony Bird, Duane Eddy, Danny Gatton, Ry Cooder, Ralph Macchio, Roy Buchanan, Michael Bloomfield, Zal Yanovsky, Clarence White, David Lindley, James Burton.
Arlen Roth (born October 30, 1952 in New York, USA) is an American guitarist, recording artist, performer, tutor and author. His first solo album won the Montreux Critics' Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year in 1978. He was a regular columnist for Guitar Player magazine from 1982 to 1992. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Bob Dylan, Danny Gatton, John Entwistle, John Prine, Kate Taylor, James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Rick Wakeman, Paul Simon (as well as Simon and Garfunkel), Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Sonny Landreth, Levon Helm, Bill Kirchen, Duane Eddy, Steve Morse, Albert Lee and Phoebe Snow.[1] Roth is a Telecaster enthusiast, and has written the book Masters of the Telecaster, which details the techniques and licks of many famous Telecaster guitar players.[2] As a solo artist Roth performs frequently with his younger daughter, Lexie Roth, a recording artist, performer and songwriter in her own right. He was greatly influenced by Clarence White of The Byrds' string bending style, but at the age of 14, he did not know White had invented a "B-string bender" for his Telecaster, so Roth developed a new style of doing this with fingers alone. He thus innovated many string-bending styles on the guitar, simulating a "pedal steel" guitar. He is also an innovator in the use of "harmonics" within guitar playing.


  • Personal life 1
  • Discography 2
    • As solo artist 2.1
  • Awards 3
  • Media appearances 4
  • Hot Licks Video and online video instruction 5
    • Hot Licks Video artists 5.1
  • Bibliography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Personal life

Roth lost both his wife, Deborah, and oldest daughter, Gillian MacKenzie Roth (b. 1983) in an auto accident in 1998. Gillian was a gifted actress and guitarist who had just signed to have her own Nickelodeon Show, "The Gunks", an all-girl band loosely based on "The Monkees". She recorded the theme for the show just 2 days before the accident.

He is the son of The New Yorker cartoonist Al Ross, who turned 100 years of age on Oct.19, 2011. Al Ross died at the age of 100 in 2012. Ross was one of four Roth brothers all of whom became cartoonists. Arlen Roth's brother is noted artist and painter David Roth.

Arlen Roth attended the High School of Music and Art in NYC from 1966-69 as an art student. He then studied at the Philadelphia College of Art from 1969 to 1971. His band, Steel lived with him, and would play in Woodstock, NY on weekends, where Roth was quickly discovered. In 1970, Steel put on the first "Woodstock Reunion" concert at Yasgur's Farm to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of the Woodstock festival in Bethel, NY, a small town Arlen lived in every summer since he was born. Soon after, he moved to Woodstock, NY, and began his career as a professional guitarist.

He began to back-up in recording and touring with artists such as Happy and Artie Traum, Eric Andersen, John Herald, John Prine, Pete Seeger, Loudon Wainwright III, Tony Bird, Art Garfunkel, Paul Butterfield, Phoebe Snow, Helen Schneider, Don McLean and many more. He toured with the Bee Gees in 1974, Simon and Garfunkel in 1983, and Duane Eddy with Huey Lewis and the News.

He has also released several solo albums, and performs with his own band, as a duet with his daughter, Lexie Roth, and as a solo act as well. Roth is also known as an innovator of slide guitar, and his first published book "Slide Guitar" was with Oak Publications when he was just 21 years old. He is planning a "Slide Guitar Summit" album, featuring duets with many other great slide guitar players, to be recorded in 2013. In 2012, Thank You Les, a Les Paul Tribute album and documentary was released with Roth performing Mr. Sandman and his daughter Lexie singing the Les Paul and Mary Ford classic, Vaya Con Dios.


As solo artist


Roth was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame at B.B. King's in 2015

Media appearances

Hot Licks Video and online video instruction

In 1979 Roth and his late wife, Deborah started the Hot Licks Audio and Video label. While teaching Ralph Macchio the parts for Crossroads, he began recording his first videos. Six of these featured Roth as instructor, one was by trusted friend and bass player of The Who, John Entwistle. The detailed close-ups of the fretting and strumming and other guitar playing techniques he had helped develop for and had been so prominent in the Crossroads film became the trademark for these instruction videos. Before long the number of instructional videos and artist started to grow enormously. Aside from Guitar- and Bass guitar videos the Hot Licks catalogue also came to include Drums, Banjo, Lap Steel, Mandolin and Harmonica instructional videos.

In 2006 it was announced that The Music Sales Group had acquired the entire Hot Licks video catalog and is implementing an ambitious program of transferring and expanding all existing material onto DVD. The result will be a new lease on life for the instructional series they will also recruit new artists for future releases, ensuring that the brand will continue to develop and attract top star names.[3]

Aside from his Hot Licks instructional videos, from 2007 to 2012 Roth hosted a series of daily video lessons at[4] It is estimated he has close to 1 million students on Gibson, he also wrote blogs for Gibson Guitar. Arlen has been known as the "Master of the Telecaster".

Hot Licks Video artists

Greg Martin, Lee Roy Parnell, Andy Summers, Emily Remler, Tuck Andress, Mick Taylor, Buddy Guy, Danny Gatton, James Burton, Joe Morello, Stuart Hamm, Harvey Mandel, Debbie Davies, David Bryan, Tico Torres, Ginger Baker, Max D. Barnes, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge, Carmine Appice, Vinnie Moore, Brian Setzer, Tal Farlow, Charlie Byrd, Mundell Lowe, Larry Coryell, Cornell Dupree, Junior Wells, J. Geils, Jimmy Thackery, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Warren Haynes, Allen Woody, David Grissom, Scotty Anderson, Lonnie Mack, Otis Rush, Joe Morello, Sal Salvador, Jeff Tamelier, Steve Douglas, Mick Taylor, John Entwistle, Jerry Jemmott, Lee Roy Parnell, Brent Mason, Johnny Hiland, Tommy Tedesco, Greg Martin, Craig Chaquico and many more.

Roth has stated that "many of these Hot Licks artists were also personal heroes of his, and it was an honor to work with them".[5]


Aside from instructional videos Roth has many successful guitar books to his credit, including: Slide Guitar, How to Play Blues Guitar, Nashville Guitar, Arlen Roth's Complete Electric guitar, Hot Guitar, Arlen Roth's Complete Acoustic Guitar, Heavy Metal Guitar, Rock Guitar for Future Stars and Masters of the Telecaster.


  1. ^ Endorsing Artists: Arlen Roth at the Dean Markley Strings website, (Accessed 12 August 2006)
  2. ^ Masters of the Telecaster book description at JK Lutherie's website, (Accessed 12 August 2006)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gibson Guitar Lessons(Accessed 17 September 2008)
  5. ^

External links

  • Arlen Roth's official website
  • Hot Licks DVD Catalogue
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