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John Leslie "Wes" Montgomery (March 6, 1923 – June 15, 1968) was an American jazz guitarist. Montgomery was known for an unusual technique of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb which granted…
John Leslie "Wes" Montgomery (March 6, 1923 – June 15, 1968) was an American jazz guitarist. Montgomery was known for an unusual technique of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb which granted him a distinctive sound. He often worked with his brothers Buddy and Monk and with organist Jimmy Smith. Montgomery's recordings up to 1965 were oriented towards hard bop, soul jazz, and post bop, but around 1965 he began recording more pop-oriented instrumental albums that found mainstream success. His later guitar style influenced jazz fusion and smooth jazz.
His grandson is actor Anthony Montgomery, who was Travis Mayweather on Star Trek: Enterprise.
Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. According to NPR, the nickname "Wes" was a child's abbreviation of his middle name, Leslie. The family was large, and the parents split up early in the lives of the children. Montgomery and his brothers moved to Columbus, Ohio, with their father and attended Champion High School. His older brother Monk dropped out of school to sell coal and ice, gradually saving enough money to buy his brother Wes a four-string tenor guitar from a pawn shop in 1935. Although Montgomery spent many hours with the guitar, he discounted this time later in life, saying he had to start over when he got his first six-string several years later.