A guitarist who never got that comfortable on electric guitar may seem an unlikely choice for a 20th century guitar hero. But if musical heroics are judged on a player's versatility, and the resulting plethora of appearances and recording credits, then Everett Barksdale might just have the edge on quite a few more famous axemen. One of many important musicians to come out of Detroit, Barksdale came from the generation of musicians that was drawn into various swing jazz and classic jazz combos. Barksdale fell in with company -- one of his frequent associates was the great bassist Milt Hinton -- who were on call for a variety of studio sessions in the overlapping musical territories of doo wop, rhythm & blues, early rock & roll, and just plain old pop music. If the keynote blues lick on Mickey & Sylvia's chart hit "Love Is Strange" sounds vividly authentic, literally drenched in blues, it is because by the time Barksdale came up with the lick he had already been soaking up various blues-related genres for decades. He apparently played several different stringed instruments such as bass and banjo in a selection of bands in the Detroit area before choosing the guitar as his main weapon. In the early '30s, he moved west to Chicago where he got his first gig of note, playing in the happening dance band of Erskine Tate. From here he moved to Eddie South's band, holding down the guitar chair in that combo for most of the decade before joining up with skilled reed player and arranger Benny Carter. In the '40s, Barksdale headed for New York, where his activity began to split into club work with small jazz groups and studio sessions at which many different styles of music were created. A year-and-a-half-long stint as a house musician with the CBS radio network in New York expanded the musical outlook even further.