Joel Paterson, Master of Classic Guitar Styles, Takes on the Beatles

When Chicago guitarist Joel Paterson was a kid, his mom had all the Beatles records and he became a big fan. “These songs have always been in my head, but I had never played them before because I got into all these other styles,” he says.

Paterson is renowned for his mastery of classic American guitar styles, from country to jazz to rockabilly and blues. In his new album “Let it Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays the Beatles” on Bloodshot Records, he applies those styles and more to 14 songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He plays 10 different guitars on the album. His version of “Honey Pie” includes 15 guitar tracks.

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“I didn't want to sound like the Beatles,” Paterson said. “There’s no reason for me to do that. I just wanted to be really true to the melodies because they’re kind of sacred to me.”

To launch the record, there are four new music videos shot on a rooftop. “We thought – How cool would it be for them to play a couple songs on a local rooftop, in homage to the fab four’s rooftop concert (and last public performance) at the Apple Corps building in 1969,” said Bloodshot Records publicist Josh Zanger.

Below, the video for Paterson’s “All My Loving.”

The “Let it Be Guitar” album cover also draws on Beatles history.  It is a remarkably precise homage to the Beatles first U.S. release, “Introducing the Beatles.” The cover photo features Joel Paterson sitting in for all four Beatles. It was designed by Paterson and Ted Beranis. 

Paterson admits to a perfectionist streak. “There's a lot of attention to detail on the whole record,” he says. “I'm kind of obsessive-compulsive about that if you've noticed, about all the overdubs and the arrangements and everything. The cover's the same way, I dabble in graphic design and photography so I'm just as picky about all that.”

Paterson will do a Beatles show at the Green Mill on Nov. 22 and 23. For more information about his concerts, visit his Facebook and Instagram pages.

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