When I was small I was shy, so I decided I’d be better off hiding behind a guitar. I didn’t fit very much with my family’s philosophy so, by the look in their faces when I said I wanted to be a musician, I knew I was doing the right thing.
I was still very young when an older friend took me to a jazz concert – Benny Carter first, Charlie Mingus Octet next. When I got home I put my whole record collection apart forever. I also sat for about three months looking at my acoustic guitar resting in its case. I didn’t grab it because I knew there was no way I could even dream of playing anywhere near to what I had heard. I looked for a teacher.
My first teacher told me to forget everything I had learned. I did so, easy. Then he said I’d better find some other hobby since guitar was obviously not for me. I got very angry and started practicing like crazy; unfortunately there were no books I could use at that time in my country. Just records that had me put the guitar back in the case over and over.
I finally found an American teacher. I was about fourteen by then. He gave me a copy of Mickey Baker’s “Jazz Guitar Method”. He also talked to me about some theory concepts. I told him I was getting the point, but it was a lie. I did not get it until many years later.
After a few lessons, he said I could become a good player, and advised me not to have a girlfriend, in case I had one not to marry her, in case I married not to have children. I thought that he probably had had a quarrel with his wife and, again, said yes without really understanding. I really understood a few years after.
After a few more lessons my teacher returned home. I was sixteen and I never had another teacher again. I had been missing every important advice anyway and by being my own teacher I was safe from that happening again: I never give any advice to myself.
By trial and error, error, error, error, error, error… I taught myself enough to start playing professionally a little bit. It was obviously not a very demanding scene.
I was not at all aware of that back then, but the day I got paid for playing for the very first time; together with my money I got a ball and admission to a field to kick it ahead forever.