The Johnnie Taylor Band was jamming all across the South. "I was thrown in with the wolves," Lopez says. "It was like college for me." He later joined Lucky Peterson's band and the Buddy Miles Express. "Buddy loved me so much because of my love for Hendrix. He considered me a son he never had."

The legendary James Brown also wanted to hire Lopez, but he turned Brown down. "I was already doing my thing, and I felt as if I had done my time with the other guys. It would have been real weird. I love his music so much, and I didn't want to join his band and end up hating his music."

In 1994, Lopez was blazing through a riff of "Red House" by Jimi Hendrix at the Blue Monday Jam session at the Greenville Bar & Grill when ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons entered the bar to listen to this young guitarist. "It was kind of one of those legendary movie kind of things," Lopez says. When he left the stage, Lopez saw Gibbons waiting for him in the back room. "So I ran over there with my Stratocaster and a Sharpie for him to sign my guitar, and he was like, 'Man, we got to jam together.'"

Lance Lopez is one of Dallas’ best blues guitarists.
Michael Heeschen
Lance Lopez is one of Dallas’ best blues guitarists.

Gibbons became his mentor. "He wouldn't tell me what to do, but he'd go, 'If I were you, I'd kind of be thinking about this ...'" At the time, Lopez was playing a white American Stratocaster modified similarly to Hendrix's. "There's a string tension difference when Hendrix played his guitar upside down," Lopez says, so he turned the necks of his right-handed Strats upside down. Then Gibbons nudged him. "Hey man, you played Strats for a long time, but you'll really sound good on these,'" and he pointed to a pair of humbucker pickups. (Gibbons recorded all of his early ZZ Top stuff playing a Les Paul.)

Lopez recently signed with Paul Reed Smith and now plays a guitar that resembles a 1959 Les Paul burst, one of the most sought-after guitars by collectors. He'll play Trees on Friday.

Lopez says it's getting harder to find good blues venues in Dallas, especially with the recent closing of the Pearl Street venue. "For Dallas, it's really sad. There are a lot of great young guitar players who are coming up, and there needs to be something to culminate that. But if there's no place to play, nobody is going to play here."

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What a great article! I played with Lance for a while as a bassist and I can vouch that everything in this article is true! He's a really sweet guy in person too.

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