Born and raised in New York City, Arthur Neilson taught himself to play guitar on an electric Teisco Del Rey at age fifteen. On hearing Albert King, Neilson was hooked on the blues, and began developing his dynamic guitar style by playing along with every blues record that he could find.  In the 70’s, Neilson responded to an ad in the Village Voice seeking a blues guitarist, which led to the formation of the A Train Blues Band, along with harp player, Felix Cabrera. From here, he was propelled into the burgeoning New York blues scene, where he eventually had the opportunity to back the late Victoria Spivey and jam with James Cotton and Hubert Sumlin.  From 1979 through the 80’s Neilson was gigging in numerous bands, playing blues, as well as rock, country, and rockabilly. In ’79, Neilson was guitarist for the band, Blue Angel (Cyndi Lauper), with whom he recorded a critically acclaimed album for Polydor Records. During this time, he played also with Oxford Blues, Kid Java, Felix and The Havanas and The Guitar Guys from Hell, among others. Neilson was a regular player in the bars and clubs of New York City, including Dan Lynch Blues Bar, Lone Star Cafe, Manny's Car Wash and Tramps, which led to his sharing the stage with many of his influences, most notably B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, and Albert King.  In 1998, Shemekia Copeland found Arthur to be the guitar player that she was looking for to complete her band. Arthur has performed with her across the globe and can be heard throughout her CD, Talking to Strangers, as well as the Grammy nominated, Wicked. In 2000, Neilson released his CD, A Piece of Wood, Some Strings, and a Pick. Moan and Cry is the title of his second release and his latest is entitled Hell Of A Nerve!

Arthur Neilson was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on December 4, 2011 as a Master Blues Artist.

© December 2011
Photos: Susan O'Kane