Some stories are so closely associated with an individual, that the mere mention of that person’s name immediately brings their defining moment to the forefront of one’s mind. Sometimes it is because a man or woman has achieved great success or accomplished a rare feat. In other instances somebody has gained notoriety or infamy due to ill behavior or committing a heinous crime. Another way a narrative and human being become inseparable is when a tall tale is told so often that fiction evolves into “truth.”
That happens to be the case with Mr. Phil Keaggy. If you are familiar with that name, in all likelihood your first thought upon reading it was, “gifted Christian guitarist who Jimi once said was the world’s greatest” or something to that effect. Not only have you heard the anecdote what seems like a million times, but you’ve probably recounted it yourself. Though it is mostly Christians who ignorantly spin this yarn, some non-believers speak of it as well-just not with the same enthusiasm or sense of pride.
There are also Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton variations, yet most often it is the Jimi Hendrix experience that is shared. Alas, it carries the same dead weight as the Cass Elliot choking stories. And despite having access to more fact-checking resources than ever before, [Insert name here]’s endorsement of Phil Keaggy as the “world’s greatest guitarist” parables will live on and poor Mama Cass will continue to be vilified.
The origin of this urban legend is not clear, though Snopes does a nice job of weighing the facts and debunking the fiction. The myth has been an attractive selling point for decades but Keaggy’s music does a fine job of (truthfully) speaking for itself and doesn’t need a guitar god’s seal of approval to do so.
Now that you have been enlightened, I believe it is your responsibility to educate others and put an end to the Phil falsehoods. If you have never heard of Keaggy and consider yourself a music lover, you have a responsibility too.