Mickey Baker was born on October 15, 1925 in Louisville, Kentucky. His fame among many guitarists is mostly as an author of numerous guitar books and courses. He has actually also been a professional guitar player mostly in the field of rhythm and blues music. He is still musically active and now resides in Paris with his spouse Sylvia.
As a boy Mickey Baker resided in an orphanage and it was in this organization’s marching band that he initially established an interest in music. At the age of sixteen he ran away from the orphanage and ended up in New York earning his living as a laborer. By the time he was nineteen, having listened to many leading jazz musicians including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Baker decided that he wanted to be a jazz musician.
The trumpet was his first instrument of choice but the cash needed to buy this instrument was too much so at nineteen he decided to buy a guitar instead. After a couple of years of study, including a brief spell at The New York School of Music, Mickey Baker chose to form his own jazz group in 1949. While he was trying to make the money required to get back to New York, Baker heard blues guitarist Pee Wee Creighton.
Mickey liked what he saw and heard and he also liked that Creighton was earning a good living! The outcome was that Baker changed his guitar approach and went back to New York as a blues guitarist. His decision showed itself to be a good one as Mickey Baker, blues guitar player, discovered himself in demand for the Atlantic, Savoy, and King record labels as a backing guitar player for leading blues artists including Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, and The Drifters.
During the 1950s Mickey felt he could enhance his monetary situation by emulating the chart topping duo of guitar wizard Les Paul and vocalist Mary Ford. He decided to join forces with an ex-student of his whose name was Sylvia and in 1957 they recorded a smash hit with a song called “Love Is Strange”. Their appeal lasted right through to 1961. With this success behind them the Bakers were economically able to create their own publishing and recording companies in addition to their own night club.
Since the early 1950s Mickey Baker had been writing and creating his jazz guitar courses along with his music albums and now through his own publishing company he established international distribution for these works. In spite of his success as a blues and pop guitarist Baker felt that he still wanted to play jazz guitar again. And for that reason, he decided to move with his wife to Europe where he hoped he could develop a more satisfying musical life.
He purchased a house in Paris and established permanent French residency there. Since that time Mickey Baker has actually prospered by writing, arranging, and playing with numerous groups and has to a great extent fulfilled his desire to continue playing his own distinct style of jazz blues guitar. To this day his now legendary jazz guitar course books are still enthusiastically recommended and used throughout the world by many guitar players!