Certain people are able to overcome incredible odds to achieve inspirational success, and the subject of this month’s feature on American Composers and Musicians is no exception. Joey Stuckey is an award-winning guitarist, songwriter, singer, composer, producer, educator, and sound engineer. He lost his sight at a very young age. His story is truly remarkable, and it exemplifies a person who refused to give up on his passion for music and desire to help others.
Joey Stuckey was born in Green Cove Springs, Fla., and lived there until age 7. His family then moved to Jacksonville until Joey was 15, when they settled in Macon, Ga. It was in Macon that he would become a legend, becoming the official musical ambassador for the city.
When Stuckey was 18 months old, he fell down a flight of 30 stairs, and his parents learned at that time that his vision was impaired. His eventual blindness was the result of a brain tumor, which also caused him to lose his sense of smell. While Joey eventually recovered from the tumor, the ailments didn’t stop there.
Stuckey developed pneumonia when he was 13 and eventually had to be home schooled for an entire year. During that time, he began to develop and refine his incredible sense of hearing and take in all of the sounds that he could. He listened to old-time radio broadcasts of shows such as “The Shadow” and “The Lone Ranger”. He was so enamored with the production and storytelling of these shows that he decided to pursue a career in sound production. He even taught himself how to play Super Mario Brothers by counting and timing challenges based on the sounds of the video game. He could actually get to the third level, which is amazing for someone without sight!
At the age of 15, Stuckey was working as the sound engineer at a planetarium. His work was so impressive that he began to get inquiries from local musicians about using his in-home studio to record their bands. Joey became fascinated by the creativity of the different groups he was recording, and it was at that point that he was beginning to develop his own musical style. Previously, he had tried to learn guitar when he was 5, but became discouraged because his teacher at that time felt that Joey’s hands were too small. Stuckey would not try learning guitar again for another 12 years.
He started attending Mercer University at age 16 (after having graduated high school when he was 14), and one year later began to study classical and jazz guitar with Terry Cantwell, Stanley Jordan, and Steven Crowell. In his first lessons with Cantwell, Terry took a box of sand and drew the shapes of the musical notes in it so that Joey would understand their form. Stuckey tried to learn braille music, but instead relied on his memory, intuition and theoretical knowledge as tools for learning and creating sounds.
Joey Stuckey is now a professor of music technology at Mercer University, and owns a recording studio and several publishing companies. He also performs nationally with The Joey Stuckey Band. He considers Mel Tormé and Gregg Allman his vocal influences, and the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Wes Montgomery, and The Who his instrumental inspirations. Artists local to the Macon area, such as Little Richard and Ottis Redding, also captivated him. His parents were very interested in music, as his father enjoyed country music and his mother introduced him to opera.
Stuckey describes his live show as, “…30 percent comedy and stories and 70 percent music,” while he describes his music as “Progressive Americana”—a blues-driven sound that borrows from jazz. He likes to use octaves when soloing, much like Wes Montgomery. He will also blend the melodies of Miles Davis and fast leads by Montgomery in his music for a fusion style. He currently hosts and produces a regular internet show, “Joey Stuckey’s Audio Style,” and takes part in many other regular productions as well.
If you enjoyed reading about Joey Stuckey, please consider the following items from the NLS Music Section that relate to this blog.
Allman, Galadrielle. Please Be With Me : A Song for My Father, Duane Allman. Daughter of Duane Allman (1946-1971), co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band, discusses learning more about her father, who died when she was two. Examines her father’s childhood, the development of the band with his brother Gregg, and her parents’ relationship. (DB79522)
Bernstein, Leonard. What Is Jazz? Discusses jazz and includes musical examples performed by Buck Clayton, Bessie Smith, Miles Davis, Teo Macero, Louis Armstrong, and Buster Bailey. (DBM00704)
Davis, Miles. Miles, the Autobiography. The noted jazz trumpeter and painter talks about life, friends, drugs, racism, and music in general. From his school days in St. Louis, he was exposed to the music he mastered. Admission to Juilliard was his ticket to New York, where Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie gave him an education not available in any classroom. (DB33198)
Musical Ideas of Mel Tormé. Insights into jazz. Tormé discusses his vocal style and the vocal trademarks of other singers. (DBM00150)
Nachman, Gerald. Raised on Radio : In Quest of the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny …. The author discusses the golden age of radio from the 1920s to the 1950s, when it was “America’s national indoor pastime.” (DB 48481)
Playing and Understanding Jazz Guitar. For the intermediate to advanced guitarist. Included is instruction on several moveable positions for each chord type and background information on intervals and the major scale. Cartridge only. (DBM01489)
Sokolow, Fred. Electric Blues and Rock Guitar : Styles and Techniques. Electric blues stylists grew out of the guitar picking of versatile single-string soloists like Lonnie Johnson and Scrapper Blackwell and the country bluesmen, turned electric, like Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. Fred slows down and analyzes the licks, scales and techniques of these players. Available on cartridge only. (DBM01483)
Montgomery, Wes. Jazz Guitar Method. Text by Lee Garson; music edited by Jimmy Stewart in single line format. (BRM24559)
Popular Music Lead Sheets no. 76. Contains “Midnight Rider,” along with other popular music in lead sheet format. Words and music by Gregg Allman. Includes melody, words, and chord symbols. (BRM32377)
Fieldhouse, Dick. Guitar and Music Theory : Book One. Large print music. (LPM00777)
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