Andy McKee (born April 4, 1979, in Topeka, Kansas) is an American fingerstyle guitar player who has released several solo albums and been the subject of several popular YouTube videos.
Life and career
Andy McKee played his first guitar, an Aria nylon string bought by his father, at age 13. Initially underwhelmed by his guitar lessons, McKee began teaching himself how to play guitar. He began learning shred guitar music, including songs by Metallica, Eric Johnson, and Joe Satriani. McKee’s electric guitar-playing cousin inspired him to continue learning, taking him out for his 16th birthday to see a guitarist named Preston Reed perform live at a clinic. McKee later bought an instructional videotape from Reed and began to learn many of his acoustic guitar techniques from it. Later that year, with his mother’s permission, he obtained his GED in order to quit attending high school and play more guitar. He began to draw influence from guitarists such as Michael Hedges, Billy McLaughlin, Pat Kirtley, and from Passion Session by Don Ross, as he continued studying the instrument on his own.
Self-described as “just this guy from Topeka, Kansas who kind of blew up on the Internet about a week before Christmas”, McKee became one of Candyrat Records’ best-selling artists after their video of “Drifting” was promoted by users at Digg. For a time, three of McKee’s videos were concurrently the three most watched on YouTube. In the wake of this exposure, he appeared by invitation on Woodsongs as well as Last Call with Carson Daly, and his online store sold out of his various guitar tablature books. Due to the increased demand, he began to offer sheet music for nearly all of his songs on his official website. He also contributed to Josh Groban’s 2007 Grammy-nominated Christmas album, Noël, playing guitar on the song “Little Drummer Boy”. Groban’s album went on to become the best-selling CD of 2007 in the U.S., hitting #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
In 2010 McKee contributed to Lee Ritenour’s CD 6 String Theory that also features guitarists like Steve Lukather, Slash, Neal Schon, Tal Wilkenfeld, and Mike Stern.
In 2012 McKee played alongside Prince on his Welcome 2 Australia tour. He played with Prince’s band during the concert on Purple Rain, Sometimes It Snows in April, Mountains, Dance Electric, and Love, Thy Will Be Done. He also kicked off the Melbourne concert with Ebon Coast, Drifting, and The Friend I Never met.
Response to filesharing
McKee has, at least once in the past, personally commented on BitTorrent websites hosting his music, chastising downloaders for their actions. Posting to The Pirate Bay under the name “AlteredTuning” (which is the same handle he uses in all his internet message board appearances as well as on his own website’s message boards), McKee sarcastically echoed other commenters’ thanks to the original uploader of his album and urged people to purchase his work legitimately. His comments were met with approval while some pointed out that the exposure on The Pirate Bay might lead to increased sales.
“Yeah thanks a lot for uploading! It’s not like I need to make a living with my music or anything. 8,676 thieves. If you really appreciate what I am doing, buy my CD legitimately so I can continue to compose music rather than work at K-Mart. I’m not Metallica. I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, much less millions. Andy McKee”
McKee’s influences include: Eric Johnson, Dream Theater, Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, Billy McLaughlin, Tommy Emmanuel, Björk, Steve Lukather, Metallica, Joe Satriani, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Vince DiCola, Toto, Peter Gabriel, Imogen Heap, King Crimson, Primus, Pat Metheny, and Don Ross,