Philip Tyler Keaggy (born March 23, 1951, in Youngstown, Ohio) is an American acoustic and electric guitarist and vocalist who has released more than 50 albums and contributed to many more recordings in both the contemporary Christian music and mainstream markets. He is a seven-time recipient of the GMA Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. He has frequently been listed as one of the world's top-3 "fingerstyle" as well as "fingerpicking" guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers' polls.
Keaggy was raised in a small farmhouse in Hubbard, Ohio with nine brothers and sisters. Keaggy went to high school in Austintown, Ohio, graduating in 1970. He is missing half of the middle finger on his right hand due to a childhood accident at age four involving a water pump. Reflecting on the incident, Keaggy says,
We lived on a farm in Hubbard, Ohio, which had a big water pump, and I was climbing up on it. As I was kneeling on top of the platform, it broke and the faucets came crashing down on my finger and cut it off. I can remember it very vividly—as if it happened yesterday, and I can see my dad running down the hill, rescuing me, and taking me to the hospital. I can recall having a white cast and bandage; it was gigantic! They tried to sew it on, but it didn't take, so I grew up with nine fingers. As a young kid, I was embarrassed about it a lot, especially when I was beginning to get into guitar. I used to be red when I'd play in front of people because I believed they were looking at my hand, which they probably weren't...Before my accident with my finger occurred, my oldest brother was killed in a car accident and two weeks afterward my younger sister had her big toe cut off. These were all really heavy things for my mom and dad to go through.
Initially, it was not the guitar that attracted Keaggy to playing music. Keaggy explains:
I asked my dad for a set of drums for my tenth birthday but he came home with a Sears Silvertone guitar...I had wanted a set of drums, but my folks couldn't afford them, so I got the guitar. I didn't know how to tune the guitar;. as it was when it came, that's how I thought it was supposed to be...So for about nine months I learned funny little melodies with my guitar tuned out. Finally, my brother Dave said "Here, let me show you how to tune this thing properly." I said, "Well, O.K., but I gotta learn all over again." I was disappointed...My oldest brother Dave, showed me some chords...But if I were to pinpoint one turning point...when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I met a man named Nick who worked an electronics store in California, where my family lived for awhile. One day, Nick took me to a music store loaded with all these great guitars the British groups were using and he asked me "Which one is your favorite?" I pointed out a 1962 Stratocaster and he bought it for me. He got me my first professional gig at Artesia Hall—just me and my guitar and amp...I paid him back by sweeping driveways and working in the electronics store. I had that guitar for quite a while and put a lot of time and effort into playing it.
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