Everyone knows serious electric guitar playing started in the late '60s. Before that, we had some country guys, some lame pop, and . . . who's that guy with the Gibson solid body named after him . . . oh yeah, Les Paul. Whatever, he was cool, I guess, but so totally lame by today's standards.
Ahem! Seriously, does anyone remember Oscar Moore?
Oscar Moore (1916 – 1981) was an American jazz musician and guitarist. A superb and influential guitarist, Moore was himself influenced by Charlie Christian. Oscar Moore was an integral part of the Nat King Cole Trio during 1937–1947, appearing on virtually all of Cole's records during the period. Barney Kessel once said that Moore practically created the role of the jazz guitarist in small combos. He also recorded with Lionel Hampton, Art Tatum (1941), the Capitol Jazzmen, and Lester Young. Unfortunately, Moore's post-Cole career was not very successful. He played with his brother Johnny Moore in the Three Blazers from 1947 to the mid-'50s (the group declined in popularity after the departure of pianist/singer Charles Brown). He also recorded three records for the Verve and Tampa labels during 1953 and 1954. After that he was outside of music with the exception of one Cole tribute album in 1965. Eventually he left music altogether and settled in Los Angeles, where he worked as a bricklayer.
Here's what Oscar was doing with Nat "King" Cole on 'Nature Boy' in '51:
And here they are with 'Route 66':
Serious badass electric guitar. Deserving of more appreciation, indeed.