Tommy Flint (1934-2017), guitarist extraordinaire – RIP

tommy-flintJust received news that Tommy Flint, 82,  has passed away in Nashville TN. As a high tribute to his gentle and humble ways, Tommy could well be one of the best known guitarists that no one ever heard of. He performed with all the top notch players, wrote dozens of guitar instructional books and I was fortunate enough to have had Tommy as my first guitar teacher from 1967-68 when I was in junior high school. He taught out of Broadripple Music Store in Indianapolis IN. Tommy took me through three Mel Bay books over the ~2yrs I took lessons from him. He also helped my parents choose a Gibson Melody Maker that was given to me as a Christmas present. Tommy was a phenomenal teacher and helped me establish a good foundation in reading music and general guitar technique. He also taught me to play great tunes like Pipeline, Wipeout and Walk Don’t Run. Unfortunately at the time, I had no idea who Tommy was. Nor did I  understand just how great of a player he was. Once in a while, though, after tuning up my guitar prior to a lesson, he’d “let loose” with some little riff. Wide eyed, I’d watch in amazement and ask him to teach me that. He’d smile and as much say something to the effect that I wasn’t quite ready for that but if I kept practicing then I’d get there soon enough.   

I saw a published book of his around 1990 at a music store in Minneapolis. Fond memories rushed back. I bought the book and shortly thereafter sent a letter to the publisher along with a recently completed demo tape. Within a month Tommy graciously responded with a hand-written letter. He was delighted that I still played and complimented me on my playing.

I caught up with Tommy in 1999 at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Convention in Nashville TN. Gracious as ever, I don’t think he remembered me as a fledgling student in Indianapolis. However, he did remember the letter and the tape I’d sent. We chatted for quite a while. I truly appreciate how fortunate I was to have had him for a teacher. Rest in peace, my friend. You have inspired legions of people with your musical talents and passion for all things guitar. Truly, it’s a sad day in the world of guitar thumb-pickers – but you won’t be forgotten.