All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Barry Finnerty

Barry Finnerty

BARRY FINNERTY, was born in San Francisco on December 3, 1951. My father, Warren, was an award-winning actor (he received the Village Voice Obie for Best Actor of 1960 for “The Connection”) and my mother, Ruth, was an excellent classical pianist who later got her PhD and taught English at UC Berkeley.

I began playing piano and reading music at age 5, then got my first guitar (a classical) for my 13th birthday. I got my first electric guitar, a Fender Jaguar, for my 14th birthday while living in Hong Kong (my mom had gotten a Fulbright grant to teach there for a year), and that same year my first band, The New Breed, opened the show for Herman's Hermits! I seemed to get some attention for my ability to play the guitar solos from the Kingsmen's “Louie Louie” and the Rolling Stones' “Heart Of Stone” note for note! The band also played songs by the Who, the Kinks, and the Yardbirds. Jeff Beck was my first real guitar hero.

I returned to San Francisco in 1966 and played in high school bands while absorbing the new hippie rock scene at the Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms. Here I heard Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead, Mike Bloomfield with the Butterfield Blues Band, and later, Eric Clapton with the Cream, and Jimi Hendrix, along with virtually all the top bands of the time. Hearing Jerry Garcia's smooth melodic playing influenced me to trade in my Jaguar for a red single cutaway Guild Starfire. But I really identified more with Jeff Beck, so I traded that one in for a '57 cherry sunburst Les Paul...with a Bigsby tremolo! (I had it removed..I had worked hard on my finger vibrato and I didn't want anyone to think I was cheating!) The price of that guitar..500 bucks. Now it would be worth at least $25,000!

Read more



Barry Finnerty is back. One of the top guitarists on the New York jazz scene in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s — his brilliant playing with the Crusaders, Miles Davis and the Brecker Brothers put him on the international map — Finnerty has just released his first live studio recordings in a decade: “Blues for Trane,” a bracing straight-ahead session imbued with the probing spirit of John Coltrane, and “Manhattan Sessions Part 1,” a far-ranging contemporary set full of pleasing melodies and dancing grooves, deft arrangements and vital solos. Together, they capture a masterly musician in peak form, playing in the inspired company of trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassists Victor Bailey (electric) and Ron McClure (acoustic), pianist David Kikoski, drummers Graham Hawthorne and Victor Jones, and Chuggy Carter on percussion.

A San Francisco prodigy known for the fire and fluidity of his deep-grooving guitar work, Finnerty returned to the Bay Area in the late 1990s to compose, perform, and teach

Read more

Primary Instrument

Guitar, electric


San Francisco

Willing to teach

Advanced only


$75/hr. also available on Skype, email for an appointment

Clinic/Workshop Information

"SERIOUS JAZZ SEMINARS" based on Barry's internationally acclaimed "SERIOUS JAZZ" educational books.



The Complete Arista...

Legacy Recordings



Cheetah - Pony/Canyon (Japan)


Trazz! (Trance Jazz)

Birdland Records


2B Named Later

Maya Recordings


New York City

Double-Time Records




Shop Amazon

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.