Do you know any instrumentalist (guitar, piano or anything else) who has achieved something and started out at an age >20 years? (by achieving I mean give decent performances, handle their instrument well, at best you can point to some recordings showing it).

Also it is important that the person does not has any musical experience before, so for example playing piano as a kid, than switching to the guitar and getting good at it does not count (then a few came to my mind).

I know its difficult to say to what degree someone has had musical training before, but the prototype would be absolutely no lessons (except what is mandatory at school) an no training before the age of <20.

There are lots of "am I too old"-alike question out there, and I read from people that they started in almost every age, I even read about people starting at 70. But thats not what I am asking, I am looking for person who started out late and became really good.

Some background: I started guitar in 2009, at age 24, and had no musical training before, and no musical background in my family, and I cancelled musical classes at eight grade. But since I started I basically never put my instrument away, have I achieved something? I don't know, I have a small youtube channel (you can visit it here if you want), I know I make a lot of mistakes, and I am definitely not at a stage in my progress where I could give a "good show", I can play up to three songs maybe well enough to perform in front of an audience, but the rest not good enough, so I would not count myself as being good, but I try, maybe next year I will be good^^

closed as off-topic by Doktor Mayhem Feb 4 '18 at 12:04

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    But since I started I basically never put my instrument away - that's great! To get really good make sure you are disciplined - practice with conscious regularity and work on particular things you know need improvement. – Stinkfoot Feb 4 '18 at 0:41
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    People say "I am too old to start now" a lot. But, that is exactly why you should start now! Once you start, if you can't stop playing, you know you are doing the right thing. One of the advantages to starting young is that there will be many difficult days ahead for a budding musician, and the young aren't too self-conscious yet. But starting in your 20's isn't really that late anyway, especially if you can be deliberate and focused in your musical studies. – David Bowling Feb 4 '18 at 0:48
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    This type of question is not a good fit for Stack Exchange, as it will just be an endless list of names, none of which can be accepted as the "right answer" – Doktor Mayhem Feb 4 '18 at 12:04
  • @DavidBowling I think the same way, hence the question for individuals to prove it ;) – StefanH Feb 4 '18 at 19:10

Bill Withers - Singer/Songwriter

He was born in 1938 with a stutter and has said he had a hard time fitting in. Raised in nearby Beckley, he was thirteen years old when his father died.

Withers enlisted with the United States Navy at the age of 18 and served for nine years, during which time he overcame his stutter and became interested in singing and writing songs.

Mr. Withers left the Navy in 1965. Using the $250 he received from selling his furniture to IBM co-worker Ron Sierra, he picked up and relocated to Los Angeles in 1967 for a musical career.

Withers worked as an assembler for several different companies, including Douglas Aircraft Corporation, while recording demo tapes with his own money, shopping them around and performing in clubs at night. When he debuted with the song "Ain't No Sunshine" he refused to resign from his job because of his belief that the music business was a fickle industry.

He released his first album when he was 33. Withers recorded several major hits, including "Lean on Me", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Use Me", "Just the Two of Us", "Lovely Day", and "Grandma's Hands". He won three Grammy Awards and was nominated for four more, and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Sources: Wikipedia and biography.com


Monk Montgomery: Jazz bass player: Monk himself did not take up the double bass until he was 30, after hearing one of Wes' groups perform.

Hard to say that he knew nothing about music beforehand, but certainly not too much and no formal training - just a lot of talent and a lot of ambition.

I read in an interview with him from back in the 80's. He said that when he decided to learn how to play bass, he bought a cheap upright bass and played all night in the basement while he was working his day job, just working on scales and playing cleanly. He did that for quite a while, until he felt ready to go out and try to play in a band:

Photograph of William 'Monk' Montgomery, electric bass player, on tour with Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra, Sweden, 1953. Seen here with a Fender Precision Bass. Original source: Estrad magazine, October 1953:

enter image description here

That is a very early Fender PBass he's playing - looks like the first version they produced - 1951. (Note his 'homebrew' thumb technique, which was reportedly how Leo Fender believed his bass should be played, placing a finger rest on the upper right side of the bass in the original design, shown clearly below.)

The bass that changed the world - 1951 Fender Precision Bass - Original, first year of commercial production:
enter image description here

William Howard "Monk" Montgomery (October 10, 1921 – May 20, 1982) was an American jazz bassist. He was a pioneer of the electric bass guitar and possibly the first to record on it when he recorded with Art Farmer in 1953. He was the brother of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and vibraphonist Buddy Montgomery.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, into a musical family, Monk had three brothers and a sister. His older brother Thomas played drums, and died at 16. Monk gave his younger brother Wes (born 1923) a tenor guitar when Wes was 11 or 12. Wes took up the electric guitar at age 19 and went on to major success. The youngest brother, Buddy (born 1930) played piano and later took up the vibraphone. Their younger sister, Ervena (Lena), also played piano.

Monk himself did not take up the double bass until he was 30, after hearing one of Wes' groups perform.

The three brothers released a number of albums together as the Montgomery Brothers also playing together on some albums credited to Wes. Also Buddy and Monk recorded many albums together in their group The Mastersounds.

He is perhaps the first electric bassist of significance to jazz, taking up the Fender Precision Bass in 1952 or '53 after replacing Roy Johnson in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He said his biggest influences as a bassist were Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, and Charles Mingus.2 Monk played electric bass with his thumb (brother Wes, played electric guitar with his thumb, also) and adapted his jazz playing from double bass to electric. In the 1960s he took up Fender Jazz Bass, playing with a felt pick.

His professional career did not start until he was 30, and after his younger brother Wes. Monk worked in a foundry and played gigs on upright bass at night in Indianapolis. Wes worked for vibraphonist Lionel Hampton from 1948–1950, Monk then worked for Hampton around 1952–1953, with Hampton insisting he play the Fender bass, and not an upright.

Monk's recordings with The Art Farmer Septet on 2 July 1953 are possibly the earliest recordings of the electric bass, and display his facility with walking bass lines, bebop melodies, and Latin-style ostinato. Chuck Rainey said that Monk was the first electric bassist to record, in any genre.

Guys in other kinds of music may have beat me to the studio, though I'm not aware of any...As far as I know, I was the first in jazz to record electric bass.
— Monk Mongomery, Guitar Player, September 1977, reprinted in The Guitar Player Book, 1979

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    @StefanH - one of the (many) unsung heroes of jazz. Glad I had a chance to bring him up here. – Stinkfoot Feb 3 '18 at 22:40
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    Nice. For some reason I thought that Monk Montgomery played on The Wes Montgomery Trio, but I just pulled out my copy and there isn't even a bass player on it-- just Melvin Rhyne on organ. Now I have to go through my stacks and see if I have anything.... :) – David Bowling Feb 4 '18 at 0:41
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    @DavidBowling - I have some of his later material on the Fender. Says up there he did work with Wes but Wes Montgomery Trio isn't mentioned - those organ players played some great basslines. The organ trio was a very popular ensemble in the 50's and early 60's - not sure why it fell out of favor. – Stinkfoot Feb 4 '18 at 0:48
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    Agree. Guitar and organ trios were once very popular and sound fantastic. Not like I needed help figuring out what to listen to for the next week, but thanks ;) – David Bowling Feb 4 '18 at 0:51
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    @DavidBowling - also a trio with tenor,organ and drums. It was economical - if you had a good organist, he could cover for 3 or 4 instruments! – Stinkfoot Feb 4 '18 at 0:54

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