King of the Blues Kirby Kelly! Winner of world's largest guitar competition

Kirby Kelly Crowned King of the Blues

King of the Blues winner Kirby Kelly

Guitar Center Announces King of the Blues Champion!

Kirby Kelly Crowned America's Top Undiscovered Blues Guitarist in World's Largest Guitar Competition!

On Thursday November 12th in front of a capacity crowd at House of Blues in Hollywood CA, Kirby Kelly of Sherman, Texas beat out more than 4,000 guitarists to be crowned Guitar Center’s 2009 King of the Blues.

Kirby Kelly competed against four other undiscovered blues guitarists from all across the country to a panel of celebrity judges that included Jimmy Vivino of the Tonight Show Band, Elliot Easton of The Cars, accomplished session musician Blues Saraceno, blues legend Hubert Sumlin of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, renowned blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Grammy Award winner Pete Anderson, Steve Lukather of Toto, Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World Brad Tolinski, and Dweezil Zappa.

Watch video footage of Kirby Kelly's performance at The House of Blues in Los Angeles, on

Hosted by Grammy-Nominated blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the event was a celebration of guitar and the music (The Blues) that has defined and influenced generations of musicians and all of today’s popular music.

Grammy Award winning producer and guitarist Pete Anderson kicked-off the show with a set of red-hot blues, which was followed by the King of the Blues final competition where each of five contestants fronted a vintage black tuxedo-clad live band lead by Pete Anderson.

Performing to a live rendition of 1 of the 25 official King of the Blues backing-tracks, the five contestants also were required to perform a two-minute solo-performance on a Gibson acoustic guitar to display their ability to master two major aspects of the guitar.

Following the contestants’ performances Guitar Center’s King of the Blues Finals culminated with an electrifying performance by blues great Joe Bonamassa, who invited a series of surprise special guest musicians to join him on-stage for an exclusive collaboration which included Hubert Sumlin, Steve Lukather, Jimmy Vivino, Elliot Easton, and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

King of the Blues Guitar Competition

Kelly’s victory was his crowning moment on the long road to being named Guitar Center’s King of the Blues. A life-long blues player, Kirby Kelly has been playing the blues for his family and friends for years.

Entered by a friend in the King of the Blues competition, Kelly beat out over 4,000 other guitarists in five rounds of grueling competition. After his victory, Kelly was awarded an impressive package of prizes, including $25,000 cash, along with a Gibson '59 Les Paul reissue guitar, a $2,500 Levi’s® shopping spree, a Marshall Vintage Modern 50 watt half stack, a Boss GT-10 Guitar Multi Effects Pedal, a feature in Guitar World magazine, worldwide distribution of their music in iTunes and more, plus endorsement deals from Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification, VOX Amplification and Gibson. Additional regional, district and local prize packages were also awarded, thanks to the generous support of Gibson Guitar, Levi’s®, Ernie Ball, Marshall, Boss, VOX, Guitar World Magazine and TuneCore, all of whom are proud partners of Guitar Center’s King of the Blues.

Like Guitar Center’s other talent search competitions - the legendary Drum-Off (now in its 21st year), and the recently launched On-Stage, King of the Blues is part of Guitar Center’s ongoing mission to provide emerging artists and musicians with career-altering opportunities and vehicles to achieve success.

Introduced in 2006, King of the Blues is more than just a competition to find the most technically skilled players. The King of the Blues is designed to seek out the most passionate, innovative and authentic guitar players and give them a shot at stardom. For example, previous King of the Blues Winner, Aaron Loesch, was invited to perform at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival in front of over 25,000 attendees.

Some of today’s most iconic and groundbreaking artists, including BB King, John Mayer, The Black Crowes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Hubert Sumlin have participated at past King of the Blues events.

With "The Blues" being the foundation for nearly all of today’s popular music, the search for the nation’s greatest undiscovered blues guitarist is has consistently unearthed a goldmine of unsigned talent, some of whom are destined to become tomorrow’s legends.

Guitar Center Official Website

King of the Blues Competition

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3 Responses to King of the Blues Kirby Kelly! Winner of world's largest guitar competition

  1. Bombi Garcia says:

    Way to go Kirby Kelly, we are all so proud of you. This a friend of Robert "Casey" Shea.
    I am as he puts it, "The Girl" in Everett,

  2. m.allen says:

    Congrats Kirby-Best in life- give me some ribs & get back in touch

  3. Let me tell you something, this guy is and always will be the best! Kirby is the most down to earth person I have ever met, and once you meet him he is a friend for life...
    Congrats to you and your family Kirby !
    We hope to see you in Kansas someday !
    Matt Deighton co-founder of

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