Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat with special guest Rocky Athas
Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat have been on the music scene now since 1993, and have built a fan base worldwide. They are well known for their no-holds-barred approach to blues-inspired rock and roll and roots music. They have shown an amazing depth of songwriting and playing, and their constant touring in both the USA and Europe has garnered many admirers. They have worked with noted producers Terry Manning (ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Stax Records & more), Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, etc.) and Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd).
Jim is also well known as the lead guitarist for George Thorogood and The Destroyers since 1999, and has often been included in "Top Ten Guitarists" lists of various music publications.
The band is releasing it's latest cd on February 17 on Underworld Records, TIJUANA BIBLE. The cd is produced by Jim Suhler & Tom Hambridge, and guest artists include vocalist Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie, Jeff Beck),Elvin Bishop, & Joe Bonamassa. TIJUANA BIBLE features 16 songs, twelve Suhler originals and cover Elvin Bishop's "Drunken Hearted Boy", Rory Gallagher's "I Could've Had Religion", and AC/DC's "Up To My Neck In You"
Rocky Athas, known by critics and fans as The Texas Tornado, The Malice from Dallas, The Young Eric Clapton and The Last Great Bluesbreaker Guitarist, possesses an arsenal of punishing guitar riffs and catchy hooks that have opened every door. From his first solo album at Willie Nelson's studio with multi-Grammy winning producer, Jim Gaines, to recording with Buddy Miles and SRV's Double Trouble to Glenn Hughes, Joe Walsh and John Mayall, Rocky has a blues rock pedigree that reads like a Who's Who of musicians. You might not know how to pronounce his name correctly, but you will most certainly remember his playing! With his wonderfully crafted new album "Shakin' The Dust" Rocky is here to announce his return from the international touring stage with The Godfather of British Blues to reclaim his rightful place front and center delivering his musical message with Texas style.
After carrying the mantle of the coveted role of lead guitarist with John Mayall's legendary Bluesbreakers for eight years, Rocky Athas renewed his successfully established solo career. The much anticipated reunion between Rocky's good friend and multi-Grammy winning producer, Jim Gaines, delivered Shakin' the Dust to rave reviews and garnered a nomination for Album of the Year!
Partnering repeatedly with Grammy Award-winning producer Jim Gaines, Rocky Athas has released a series of albums, including Miracle, Voodoo Moon, Lightning Strikes Twice, Let My Guitar Do The Talking...with my friends and his band of Texas musicians wows audiences everywhere they go.
t the beginning of his career, Rocky was the creative vortex behind Lightning, one of the biggest draws in Texas nightclub history, regularly opening for national acts.
By the age of 23, the Oak Cliff, Texas native had been included in Buddy Magazine's now-legendary list of Top Guitarists - one of the first and the youngest to receive the honor. Rocky shares that honor with Eric Johnson, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Billy Gibbons (of ZZtop), and Johnny Winter.
Moving on from Lightning, Rocky began appearing as the lead guitarist for national acts, including the southern rock one-of-a-kind Jim Dandy and Black Oak Arkansas. Two of BOA's greatest hits, "Ready as Hell" and "Wild Bunch", were written by Rocky and feature his playing.
While playing with BOA, Rocky was introduced to the Bolin brothers--drummer extraordinaire Johnnie Bolin, and Tommy Bolin (of Deep Purple and James Gang). Johnnie and Rocky cemented a life-long bond as brothers. After Tommy's death, Rocky performed, toured, and recorded Tommy Bolin Tribute shows with Johnnie in support of the Tommy Bolin Archives foundation. Joining them for these efforts was their friend and amazing vocalist and bassist Glenn Hughes, of Deep Purple and Trapeze.
Throughout his career, Rocky has been asked about his friendship with Stevie Ray Vaughan, a fellow Oak Cliff native and legendary guitarist. Rocky is extremely proud of their shared Oak Cliff roots and their friendship. In Kerri Leigh's biography Stevie Ray Soul To Soul, Rocky shares some stories of that early friendship, before either Rocky or Stevie had known music or fame. In 2000, Rocky worked with Buddy Miles and Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm section, Double Trouble, on The Bluesberries album for Ruf Records. Rocky also recorded the classic Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" for Ruf Records' album Blue Haze - Songs of Jimi Hendrix.
In the late oughts, Rocky was made an offer he couldn't refuse: John Mayall, the iconic "Godfather of British Blues", had asked him to play lead guitar on his next album. Needless to say, Rocky was honored to be recognized for his skill and thrilled to join Mayall's legendary outfit, The Bluesbreakers. Former members included Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and Mick Taylor. Within weeks of the call from John Mayall, they were together in the studio working on Tough. The album was a smashing success, and Rocky's performance did not go unnoticed. Guitar Player Magazine wrote that Rocky was, "a veteran Texas gunslinger with a wicked tone and a thriving solo career of his own." Over the next few years, Rocky continued to record and tour with Mayall's The Bluesbreakers. Mayall's album A Special Life featured stellar guitar performances by Rocky, prompting Neil Spencer of Uncut Magazine to highly praise the new work, "... whose guitarist, Rocky Athas, recalls the young Eric Clapton."
With a mutual admiration nurtured by thousands of miles on the road together, Rocky was proud to stand next to John Mayall, rockin’ the blues around the world and blazing a fresh, new, innovative sound with the veteran bluesman.
In September of 2016, John Mayall announced that he would reduce his performance format to a trio and become his own guitar player. While Rocky no longer tours with the band, he holds nothing but respect and gratitude for its founding member.