Eddie Heinzelman is an in-demand session musician/sideman who currently plays guitar, mandolin, and sings background vocals with hit songwriter and Country/Americana artist, Radney Foster.
A native of Brookville, IN, Eddie got his first guitar at age 8 and began formal Classical guitar lessons.
- "My grandma bought me my first guitar, a Harmony from Sears, for Christmas when I was 8. I wanted to be a singing cowboy like Gene Autry, but I also wanted to really learn how to play guitar "right". There was a music store next to where my mom worked so she signed me up for lessons. She would come home from work, then drive me back the 45 minutes each way, every week. She did that for 8 years until I could drive myself."
Within just a couple years, his teacher, David Dolata, a Master's student at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, recognized Eddie's talent and began grooming him for the college audition process. Until one day, Eddie's brother brought home the album that would change his entire direction.
- "When I was 12, my brother came home from school with the album, Led Zeppelin IV, and I was mesmerized from the first note to the last. It spun my head around on my shoulders, I had never heard guitar playing or songs that sounded like that before. I sat in front of the stereo and listened to the entire album 5 times in a row, absorbing every nuance of every note Jimmy Page played. I knew at that very moment that was what I wanted to do - write my own songs, learn improvisation, and play electric guitar".
Eddie continued Classical lessons until he was 14, while also studying electric guitar Blues and Rock with other teachers. However, most of those lessons only lasted a few months. Eddie was learning faster than they taught.
- "I devoured music at the time, eager to learn everything I could. I'd read about a guitar player then go buy his albums. Then I'd research who his influences were and go buy those albums. I did this with every guitarist I could find. I wanted to learn their styles and then what influenced each of them so I worked backwards, and the depth of musicians and styles I covered that way was really broad. When I was 15, one teacher in particular taught me how to visualize and listen to music in order to separate the parts and instruments. I'd take a song to him each week; he'd transcribe it for me to learn. I'd learn it and take in another song the next week. But after just a couple months, I was able to transcribe on my own so I looked for the next challenge...and the next teacher."
At this same time, Eddie had been performing professionally since the age of 13, quickly establishing a reputation as a premier and versatile guitarist around the Cincinnati, OH area, working with regional and national acts in various genres from Country to Rock to Jazz to Classical music.
- "I was playing in multiple bands at gigs like weddings,dances,VFW halls, and bars, and I would get calls to fill in because I could learn songs fast. Then when I was 16, wanting to be the best musician I could be, I set my sights on finding a Jazz teacher. I was also teaching lessons by this time at a local music store, and that's where I found Scott Elliott who was a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and was a Grad Student at the College Conservatory of Music at the time. Scott really helped me take my playing to the next level, combining my technique with advanced Music Theory. My practice time went from an hour a day to 5 hours a day in preparation for my audition. I made it into CCM, but instead of a Classical student, I went as a Jazz major."
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music's Jazz and Studio Music program, Eddie formed the country band, Durango, with his brother and released an EP, 'Closer To Home' that was featured in the CMT Dance Link video series. Soon thereafter, he moved to Nashville, TN to focus on writing songs and began playing guitar live and on sessions for other singers and songwriters.
- "After graduation, I wanted to focus again on writing my own music, and I began developing my own approach and really wanted to get back to Country music where I could blend all of my experience and versatility. My versatility is my calling card and what I draw on for recording sessions, writing songs, and the frequent calls I would get to sub and fill in. I've gotten most of my artist gigs through initial sub work, and I've been very fortunate to have performed with some of the biggest names in the business and tour throughout the US as well as in Norway, England, China and Japan."