This month GT's prog hound Paul Bielatowicz unlocks the guitar style of Ty Tabor from the spiritually inclined and highly musical three-piece, King’s X.
Paul Bielatowicz on the prog guitar style of Ty Tabor from the hugely underrated Kings X.
Ty Tabor was born in 1961, in Pearl, Mississippi. He began singing and playing guitar at a young age, and by his early teens was performing with his father and his brother in a bluegrass band.
As the popular music of the 60s and 70s began to catch his ear - much of it coming from the so-called British Invasion bands with their interesting chords and great vocal harmonies - he wanted to do the same and so started playing in high school bands. One of these was a Christian rock group called Matthew, which would be the vehicle that kick-started young Tabor's touring career, not long after he graduated.
A little later Tabor moved to Springfield, Missouri to attend college; once there he immersed himself in the local music scene. One band he played with had the opportunity to open for the successful Christian guitarist, Phil Keaggy.
Keaggy's drummer was Jerry Gaskill; he and Tabor hit it off personally and musically, and it wasn’t long before the two would get together and form a band, changing both of their careers forever.
In the spring of 1980 Ty was asked to perform at a college talent show with a female singer. Bass player Doug Pinnick was in the audience, and was so impressed by Tabor's performance that he got in touch with the guitarist and the two began collaborating.
Eventually Tabor, Pinnick, Gaskill and guitarist Dan McCollam formed their own outfit, called The Edge. McCollam left and was soon replaced, and when his replacement decided to quit the band, they made the fateful decision to continue as a trio. They changed their name to Sneak Preview and released a self-titled EP in 1983. A few years later the band were picked up by the vice president of ZZ Top’s production company, who took them under his wing, becoming their manager and influencing their name change to King’s X.
Although highly rated and receiving great reviews in the press and accolades from many big-name artists, King's X never got the commercial success that they deserved. However, with the band Tabor has become one of most well respected guitarists in the prog rock genre today. His style and tone, as well as his vocals and songwriting, are crucial elements in the innovative King’s X sound.
Spiritual in nature, the band’s lyrics have often led to them being labelled as 'Christian rock', although that’s consistently been shrugged off by the members as untrue.
With King’s X, Tabor has become one of most well respected guitarists in the genre today.
Ty Tabor: ace six-stringer with King's X