From left: Guitar Center Chairman & CEO Marty Albertson, competition winner Aaron Loesch and Billy Bob Thornton. Photo courtesy of Guitar Center ©2007; photo by Ryan Hunter.
Guitar Center named Aaron Loesch of Houston, Texas, the winner of the musical instrument retailer's 2007 "King of the Blues" competition on June 16 at the Music Box @ Fonda Theater in Hollywood. The grand finale show was attended by more than 1,400 and featured a special performance by Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Hubert Sumlin, as well as a set by The Black Crowes and an appearance by Billy Bob Thornton. The event is an annual celebration.
Loesch performed alongside Grammy Award-winning producer Pete Anderson, competing against three other contestants from around the country. The evening's judges—Shepherd, Sumlin, Anderson, Brad Tolinski, Randy Chortkoff and last year's winner, Matt O'Ree—based their decision on overall performance, originality, technique, style and stage presence. Loesch will receive a prize package valued at more than $50,000 and the opportunity to perform on the same stage as BB King, Willie Nelson and John Mayer at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival this summer in Chicago, Ill.
As the winner, Loesch will also receive seven days in the studio with Anderson, a 2007 Ford Mustang, a Gibson '59 VOS re-issue Les Paul, Gibson GA40 amplifier, a one-year Gibson endorsement deal, a write-up in Guitar World magazine, a 2.66 GHz Apple MacPro with 23-inch Cinema HD monitor and a $2,500 Levi's shopping spree.
For the Grand Finals Competition, the talent was narrowed down from more than 4,000 participants to the four finalists who competed at more than 200 Guitar Center locations across the country. Hosted by Cheech Marin, the finals showcased the nation's top undiscovered talent.
From left: Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Billy Bob Thornton, Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes and Guitar Center Chairman & CEO Marty Albertson. Photo courtesy of Guitar Center ©2007; photo by Ryan Hunter.
"The amount of talent that came out during this year's competition was nothing short of amazing," says Dustin Hinz, manager of event marketing and promotions. "Guitar Center is proud to work with such a versatile emerging artist. Through 'King of the Blues,' we hope Guitar Center will be able to act as the catalyst for Aaron Loesch as he begins his career as a professional musician."
"I'm very grateful just to be at this level in the competition and to get to perform with amazing artists like The Black Crowes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Hubert Sumlin," says Loesch. "Guitar Center has really blown the doors of opportunity open for me. I'm incredibly excited to see what the future has in store. I feel this contest is a historical landmark and I thank Guitar Center for keeping the blues alive."
For more information, visit www.guitarcenter.com/kingoftheblues.