Jimmy Raney

Jimmy Raney

Electric Guitar icon Electric Guitar

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May 10, 1995 (Age 67) died

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August 20, 1927 Birthday

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Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. Birthplace

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Jimmy Raney was an influential jazz guitarist. He began his career in Chicago in the 1940s and gained attention when he joined Woody Herman's Second Herd orchestra in 1948. From there he went on to work with Buddy DeFranco, Al Haig, Artie Shaw and Red Norvo. His association with Stan Getz in the 1950s and 1960s is particularly noteworthy resulting what many believe was his best work. During this time Raney also recorded several significant albums with Bob Brookmeyer. Heavy drinking sidelined his career in the 1960s but Raney emerged in the 1970s and recorded several albums with his son, guitarist Doug Raney, as well as releasing multiple albums as leader. He continued to tour and record through the 1990s until his death from heart failure in 1995 at the age of 67.


Jimmy Raney won the DownBeat Magazine's critics poll for best guitarist in 1954 and 1955. Jimmy Raney scatted on one record with Blossom Dearie and Al Haig, but hated the result and vowed never to do it again. In the 1950s Jimmy Raney started taking work as a studio musician but was worried his sight reading skills were lacking so took 6 months off to improve his sight reading skills.

Early Life

Jimmy Raney was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1927. He began playing the guitar at age 10 and by age 12 was playing in a kids band. He studied classical guitar, but soon became fascinated with jazz, particularly jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. In 1944, at age 17, he spent 2 months playing with the Jerry Wald Band where he met pianist Art Haig, who he would play with periodically throughout his life. Later that year Raney moved to Chicago where he met ant played with many up and coming bebop musicians including Lou Levy, Lou Donaldson, Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Gourley and Ronnie Singer.