Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke
| May 14, 2024 |

“The first paying gig, I was 15. I started playing in all those bars, and I would have to sneak in”—Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr

Charlie Starr on his early days, single-pickup guitars, Les Paul Juniors, his signature Southern rock sound, and more

In this video, Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr sits down with Gibson Gear Guide’s Dinesh Lekhraj for a rundown of his 20-year career with the Southern rock band and a comprehensive conversation about all things guitar.

Starr shares tales of MacGyvering his sister’s home stereo as a first guitar amplifier for use with a $20-dollar guitar (blowing the amp up two weeks later), stealthily playing shows in bars while underage, and transforming from a potential wallflower into a fearless frontman and songwriter who wrangles tone like a seasoned cowboy.

Watch as Charlie shares how he moved through the bustling Atlanta music scene and found a well-loved Les Paul™ Junior that truly spoke to him. His groove and down-to-earth demeanor shine through, and with all that rockin’ in-the-pocket talent, how does Charlie Starr roll so smoothly? Watch and find out.

Who is Charlie Starr?

Charlie Starr is best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter for Blackberry Smoke, an American Southern rock/country band from Atlanta, Georgia—he’s also a guitar collector. Formed in 2000, Blackberry Smoke’s diverse sound has earned the band a dedicated following.

When asked about getting started as the frontman in a band, Starr says, “I was bashful about singing—just focused on guitar.” He relates that he only knew cowboy chords initially, but a friend showed him powerchords. “That’s the key that unlocked every door, right there,” he says.

Starr’s fiery pentatonic-infused music is characterized by its rootsy feel, combining a heady brew of influences, including classic rock, country, and Americana. His lyrical content often delves into themes of life in the South, personal experiences, and broader human emotions. In “Hammer,” he sings, “Like my daddy before me, this is where the apple fell. Beatin’ the odds and coming up roses ain’t my story to tell. The whole world swings the hammer, and I’m the nail.”

Where can I hear Charlie Starr’s guitar style in action?

Charlie Starr and Dinesh Lekhraj jamming the Gibson Gear Guide video, and you can explore the Blackberry Smoke catalog here.

Starr’s penchant for P-90s (and Les Paul Juniors), slinky guitar style, and smoky vocals have been pivotal in defining Blackberry Smoke’s sound and contributing to the band’s reputation as torchbearers of groove-laden Southern rock. Their latest album is Be Right Here—produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Dave Cobb.

Discover the simple magic of a P-90-equipped Les Paul Junior for yourself.