Takamine Artist Focus: Nils Lofgren

Takamine Artist Focus: Nils Lofgren

It’s not often that a musician gains an equal level of respect as a solo singer-songwriter, and as one of the best sidemen in the business, but that’s definitely true of Takamine player Nils Lofgren.

Born in Chicago in 1951, his family soon moved to Bethesda, MD, a suburb of Washington, D.C. where Lofgren spent his formative years. It’s also where he got started on his first instrument, the classical accordion. The athletic Nils also became a competitive gymnast in high school, a talent that eventually carried itself into his dynamic stage shows where he’d perform acrobatic flips while playing guitar.

Toward the end of his high school years, he put together the band Grin. The trio, with Nils on guitar and vocals, quickly gained a name for great original songs and excellent musicianship, and they developed a following in the D.C. area. One night at a club called The Cellar Door, Nils met musician Neil Young, who had recently left Buffalo Springfield and had released two albums in close succession: his self-titled solo album and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, his first album with the band Crazy Horse which would become an all-time rock classic.

Neil invited Nils to come out to California, potentially to work on some music together. Just 17 years old at the time, Nils followed his muse and ended up in Young’s home studio in Topanga Canyon, CA. Lofgren ended up performing on guitar, piano, and vocals on the album that would end up being another Young classic, After the Gold Rush. Nils’ association with Neil Young continued at various points through the years. More on that topic later.

“I’ve been playing Takamine for decades, in concert and in the studio. I love their sound and versatility.” - Nils Lofrgen

One thing that transpired as a result of his work with Neil was Grin being signed to a record deal in 1971. Despite being critically acclaimed and having a loyal fan base, Grin disbanded after four albums. Nils immediately launched his solo career. Both his eponymous debut album in 1975 and the follow up Cry Tough in 1976 were very well received, and they ended up hitting the charts and being included on many “best of” album lists in the mid-70s.

Nils would continue his work both as a solo artist and sideman through the reminder of the 1970s and early ‘80s, contributing to projects by Neil Young but also co-writing and performing with luminaries like Lou Reed and others. In 1984, with the departure of Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen’s famous E Street Band, Nils stepped in to take over guitar duties just in time for the Born in the U.S.A. tour. Lofgren would stay with The Boss to appear on the Tunnel of Love album and subsequent tours.

Continuing his solo work and doing appearances and tours with other artists kept Nils busy over the years. Most recently, in 2018, his musical life ended up going full circle when he once again became a member of Crazy Horse, backing Neil Young on tour and performing on Young’s most recent albums Colorado (2019) and Barn (2021).

The Takamine Legacy Series EF508KC is the acoustic guitar most closely associated with the work of guitar great Nils Lofgren. Features of this all-koa handcrafted guitar include a fully bound body and fretboard, dual action adjustable tension rod, and Takamine’s CT4B II preamp system.

Nils has been a longtime player of Takamine acoustic guitars. He’s most closely associated with one particular model from the Legacy Series, the beautiful koa NEX cutaway EF508KC. Nils has also done plenty of gigs with an earlier Takamine model, the NP15C (a guitar that's similar to the current Pro Series P3DC). Like many musicians, Nils turns to his Takamine guitars for both live performance and for music creation in songwriting and recording.

For the latest news on this influential and inspiring Takamine player, visit his official web site at nilslofgren.com.

Comments
nhadz r.

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Jaime Oli

He's best known as a sideman for giants like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young rather than for his own music. Deck and Fence is a huge fan.