Prairie Bohemian

Gay never recorded an album, never won a Juno. His music existed in the moment, appreciated by the few who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. For the rest of us, those late-night jam sessions in a shack in an alley on the bad side of Edmonton never happened. We never got to hear him play the Cole Porter songs he loved with Carlos Montoya, never got to watch the ashes build dangerously on the end of his menthol cigarette. And when Frank Gay died, only the guitar players gently wept.
— Shelley Youngblut

Until his death in 1982, Edmonton luthier and guitarist Frank Gay built guitars for several famous musicians, including country stars Johnny Cash, Don Gibson, Webb Pierce, and Hank Snow. He captivated listeners with his singular talent on guitar and other instruments, and was well known within the music industry. Trevor Harrison’s detective work uncovers the story of this private, charming, and bohemian man, doing a tremendous service to Canadian culture and music history. Harrison pieces together Frank Gay’s life through interviews with people who knew him and saw him play. Very few recordings of him playing exist, and the sparse accounts of Gay’s life and work raise more questions than they answer. Musicians and instrument makers, as well as those interested in Canadian music or Edmonton’s colourful past, will be fascinated by this biography of western Canadian luthier, musician, and guitar virtuoso Frank Gay.