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Stephen Scapelliti
Posted on Saturday, March 26, 2005 - 12:48 pm:   

I knew George Korinek mostly as my guitar teacher and mentor. I was 7 years old in 1964 when I had my first guitar lesson with his dad, Al Korinek, at Welsby Music in Farmington, MI. For my next lesson, he turned me over to his 18 year old son, George, who would influence my musical direction over the next eight years. He took me through the basics of music theory, which I resisted as much as any kid who just wanted to rock & roll. I remember his patience and his persistence each week, as he assured me that this was the way to learn what I wanted to do, which was to express myself through my instrument. I had to learn "Big Rock Candy Mountain", before he would teach me "Day Tripper".

My first read of Rolling Stone was one of his issues (back when it was still a newspaper format), which he told me to make sure my Mom didn't see. He would lace our lessons with stories of the Detroit music scene. Tales of shows at the Grande Ballroom, the Palladium, Alvin's, and numerous other venues would lead to an assignment for my next lesson, which could be to listen to Jimmy Reed or Albert King and nail a passage, in addition to learning his father's notation of "Misty" or "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". He was passionate about his music and about all music. While he was a committed blues player, there were no barriers, and every style of music was fair game.

He would tell me, "Whatever you play, make every note count." He loved the blues because it left space for expression. When he played, his eyes would close, and you could tell that he felt every note he played. He was an expressive guitarist, with a great control of dynamics. It didn't matter that he was playing his Les Paul or Byrdland through a small practice amp, so quietly that it wouldn't disturb the lesson in the next room. He could have been on stage, for the way he looked.

When I was 14, he took me to a show his band played at the Birmingham Palladium, February 6, 1971. Edgar Winter's White Trash headlined. George's band, Lucky Dog, was the opener. I looked forward to that night, because I finally had the opportunity to see George onstage. Lucky Dog was powerful and tight. As best I can recall, Lucky Dog was Shadowfax, because it was George, Bill Hodgson, David Opatik, and David Chambers.

After their set, we saw a bit of the Tin House set and then went back to the dressing room. One of the guys said to me, "Hey, kid! Wanna see Edgar's band?" He pulled back part of the masonite partition between the dressing rooms, so that I could look in on White Trash hanging out before the show. We went back out and stayed for all of White Trash. It was a fantastic night.

Eventually, George stopped teaching, and we lost contact. I saw him many years later at Alvin's, after someone told me that he was one of the owners. It was a few years before he left this earth. I can't pretend to have any insight, but he seemed very disassociated from things. Friends told me that running the club was wearing him down.

I received a call from Gary Graff in 1987, who told me that George had died. Gary wrote a beautiful obituary which appeared in the Detroit Free Press. The service at the funeral home was somber, but, at times, moving. The room was full, a tribute to someone who clearly had touched them as an artist and friend. I felt then, as I do now, a tremendous loss, despite the years between.

I owe much to George, far more than I can write. While I believe that you cannot teach someone to have passion for music, you can put them on the path to find that passion within themself. He provided me with the history behind the Beatles, Cream, and Jeff Beck, by having me listen to Chuck Berry, Chicago and Delta blues, and Carl Perkins. This he wanted me to know, before teaching me contemporary music. When I play, my left hand is always anchored on my guitar, either at the bridge or by my pinky and ring fingers, or both - a rule he never let me break. And he taught me that all the trappings and posturing won't make the music good, and they often ruin it.

Most important, though, was his encouragement to make every note count. If it doesn't count, then leave it out. It is true for everything we do. It is the parallel between music and life.
Stephen Goodfellow
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 9:18 am:   

Beautiful and insightful post. Thanks so much!
Kris Peterson
Posted on Tuesday, November 21, 2006 - 3:03 am:   

I worked at Alvin's with "The Sun Messengers", with "Careless Love", with "Maruga", and with my group, "Insight". I was honored to work at Alvins. I really liked and respected George and was saddened at his death.

Kris Peterson
Gordon Mac McClelland
Posted on Sunday, December 27, 2009 - 3:56 am:   

George Korinek had a soul for music. But he also had a heart of gold. Around 1973 George walked into an old automobile upholstery shop near Forrest and Cass, and he told the fellow he was looking for some material to recover his ancient guitar monitor. It was a cane-like material much like you see on the seats of old chairs. That shop had been there for the better part of 50 years. The proprietor went in the back and from a shelf way up top, brought down exactly what George was looking for. Exact same material that covered the front of his old monitor. He paid him the $5 and headed on home. But upon opening up the roll of material he read the tag - "Headliner: 1951 Plymouth Station Wagon." Well, I happened to own just such a vehicle and George knew it. And my headliner was a bit torn up. He just didn't have the heart to cut up that headliner for his guitar monitor. So he passed it on to me and it was duly installed on that sweet little, light blue, 1951 station wagon with the sun visor over the windshield. Yup, like I said, a heart of Gold! Gordon (Mac) McClelland/House on Second
Posted on Friday, March 23, 2012 - 3:52 pm:   

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Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 11:42 am:   

Hats off to whoveer wrote this up and posted it.

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