Most people who have seen Edgar Cruz play his Cordoba classical guitar become immediately hypnotized by the sound and the speed at which his fingers fly over the fretboard. He seems to perform magic the way he plays the bass part, accompaniment & the melody all on one guitar, all at the same time. He is David Blaine on a guitar.
Edgar Cruz is an internationally known award winning guitarist. At the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship held annually in Winfield, Kansas, Edgar placed second in 1991. He has been playing guitar for 27 years and graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from Oklahoma City University. He has been amazing audiences ever since.
Edgar comes from a musical family. His brother Mark is also an accomplished guitarist, but the love of the guitar for both of them started with their father. Edgar started accompanying his father as he played the Mexican restaurants of Oklahoma City. Edgar explains, “What impressed me about my father was that he would go to this table and there would be a guy with a cowboy hat and he would play “El Paso.” Over here there would be a grandmother and he would play “Somewhere My Love.” Over here a teenager and he’d do a little “Johnny B. Goode,” and next to them is a baby that he’d serenade with a a little Brahm’s Lullaby. Immediately he taught me that if you’re going to be doing this for a living, you need to do all genres and appeal to as many people as you can. That was the biggest inspiration I had from my father.”
Edgar has indeed taken that lesson to heart. There is something for everyone in his album catalog which includes a Christmas album, Classical, Spanish, 30’s and 40’s classics and a Rock album. He has a very extensive repertoire. “There’s 10,000 songs you can request that I can probably play,” says Cruz, “400 or 500 songs with total arrangements.”
Edgar has a very eclectic list of inspirations which include the likes of Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Liberace and even Spinal Tap. “Anything that has a lot of energy, any group, any individual that really goes off the edge, it really turns me on,” explained Edgar.
One of his biggest inspirations is Japanese guitarist, Kazuhito Yamashita. In 1983 Yamashita recorded Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” “He was doing it all on one guitar and that just really turned my head upside down,” said Cruz. “I took a complete right turn because I knew that there’s a lot more that six strings could do then just strumming chords and playing simple songs.”
The one song that has put Edgar Cruz on the map is his version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Edgar says that, “‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has pretty much made me internationally famous. It took two months to write it out on a computer. It took another four months to make it playable, to make it groove. I could hack at it at first, but I could not play it. It was much harder then anything I had ever done and I wasn’t good enough to play what I wrote. It’s the toughest song I’ve ever done.”
I asked Edgar after all his years of playing for audiences, what is his most requested song? Cruz answered, “‘Malaguena’ has always been the most requested song, and right after that is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” For over 27 years it’s been like that. “Malaguena” is I think for any player who plays Latin music, Spanish music, that’s what everybody is going to ask for. Probably third off would be maybe ‘La Bamba.'”
Edgar’s father, his biggest inspiration, passed away in February. “I had started an album, “The Essence of Mexico” with him,” says Cruz. “He got about 8 tracks into it then he passed away. So me and Alberto Aguilar and Sergio Cruz, not related, finished the album without him. I’m very proud of that project.” Edgar also has another album in the works. “Me and David B. Hooten, he’s a trumpet player, we’re going to go in the studio at the end of July and record our second album,” explains Cruz. Next year or maybe this year it’ll be released. I also hope to release a full original album maybe next year.”
Edgar stays busy by playing 200-250 dates a year, all over the United States and the world. You can catch Edgar playing at Oklahoma City restaurants, festivals or my favorite, at the Leadership Square Atrium where he regularly entertains the lunch crowd. The best part about his performances is that most of them are free.
If you have never seen Edgar Cruz perform live, you are missing out on a true Oklahoma City treasure. One of the best guitarists around, he will astound you with his playing, especially when he plays his “Big G” chord. If you would like to find out more about Edgar Cruz, you can check out his website at (www.edgarcruz.com ).
Terry Smith is a Newscast Director at Channel 4. Edgar Cruz performed at his wedding in 1993.