There was no long-distance journey into music for the Legendary Rich Gilbert, who was essentially born into the life of a musician. “I was just pulled toward it like a magnet,” he says, “even as an infant.” He plays a variety of instruments including pedal steel guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro, piano, accordion, fiddle, harmonica, and the old-timey musical saw. “I'm pretty comfortable with anything with a string or a keyboard attached to it,” he explains.
Gilbert played trombone in the 3rd grade, experimented with piano, and then fell in love with the guitar as a teenager. “My brother got a Tesico-style Japanese electric guitar that was insanely difficult to play,” Gilbert recalls, “and I became obsessed with it.” So obsessed, in fact, that he soon evolved into a virtuoso known for his eclectic style and mind-blowing (some say face-melting) live performances. He shreds like a melodic tornado, syncopates with rhythmic ferocity, and subtly teases-up delicately evocative harmonics that have the clarity of crystal. He’ll blister the roof off with dazzling, fiery solos, punctuating them with impromptu slide runs played with a beer bottle.
Gilbert’s also a talented producer and gifted composer who studied for three years at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston. During that time he answered an ad posting by four singers looking for musicians. They formed the band Human Sexual Response in 1977 – ushering in the new wave of underground punk music back when the entire scene in Boston was only around 100 people, including the musicians.
Gilbert subsequently helped form The Zulus and the Concussion Ensemble – other influential Boston-area new wave bands. When Human Sexual Response reunited in 2012 for a reunion show at The House Of Blues in Boston, 2,400 people showed up – far exceeding expectations. The crowd was so stoked that the band came back on stage for an encore – wearing the nurses’ uniforms that were part of their signature look back in the 70s. That brought the house down with rowdy, appreciative applause.
Gilbert released records with Human Sexual Response, The Zulus, the Coronet Premiers and The Blackstone Valley Sinners, and played on recordings by Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn, and The Lemonheads. For years he recorded and toured with Frank Black & The Catholics and Tanya Donelly – then moved to Nashville in 2004 to absorb himself in a new musical community, surrounded by the highest caliber musicians on earth. You have to be world-class just to survive as a musician in that town. But Gilbert didn’t just survive – he became one of those Nashville cats who is now a legend in his own right, among the cream of the crop.
Soon after settling in Music City he teamed-up with singer/songwriter extraordinaire Eileen Rose and her phenomenal touring band, The Holy Wreck. Then in 2009 Gilbert and Rose founded the classic country band, The Silver Threads, which currently stays busy performing to packed houses with a 5-show-per-week residency in Nashville’s renowned Lower Broadway entertainment district.
What qualifies The Legendary Rich Gilbert as a legend in his own time? For one thing, he’s been on the marquee sharing dates with a virtual “Who’s Who” list of hugely influential artists across multiple genres of music. We’re talking about iconic innovators from James Brown and Dick Dale to the Ramones, Jimmy Cliff, and Robert Plant. He’s also shared the bill with Iggy Pop, Pearl Jam, Joe Bonamassa, Jackson Browne, Public Image, The Police, The Cure, Green Day, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Eric Johnson, to name just a few.
Gilbert toured with Jack White and Wanda Jackson’s band, playing pedal steel, including appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Conan O'Brien Show. In 2016 released his first-ever solo album, Stereo Action Music. The fully instrumental compositions on the record – which he composed and produced - are melodically atmospheric and evoke emotional imagery and palpable sonic motion. Many believe it is arguably the best work of the Legendary Rich Gilbert’s rich and expansive 40-year career. He just released the follow up to Stereo Action Music, titled Son Of S.A.M.