Born in Galveston, TX, Van Wilks began playing guitar at a young age as a youthful refuge while his family constantly moved around Texas. Influenced heavily by the British Invasion, Wilks began to hone in on his sound early on. He moved to Austin in the early 70s, a time when guitar was defined by volume and power. Combining previous influences and his own style, Wilks brought his guitar muscle and class to the people of Austin through his popular band, Fools. Wilks’ distinct and unique ability caught the attention of many notable industry names, including ZZ Top manager, Bill Ham. In 1979, he signed with Mercury records and released his first record, Bombay Tears, in 1980.
Since his first release, Van Wilks has built an illustrious career that includes six solo albums, one live album, and multiple globe-spanning tours with acts such as ZZ Top, Heart, Van Halen, Journey, Aerosmith, and countless other. His career has led him on a scorched earth path from Texas to Moscow, the Virgin Islands to India, and everywhere in between. Along with that, Van Wilks was featured on ZZ Top’s Live at Montreux Jazz Festival DVD.
Throughout the years, Wilks has acquired an impressive trophy collection, winning multiple Austin Music Awards, being voted best electric and acoustic guitarist in the Austin Chronicle Readers Poll, and being inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. In addition to that, Wilks guitar prowess has been featured on albums such as the Geezinslaw Brothers’ The Eclectic Horseman (w/ Willie Nelson), The Texas Christmas Collection (Duet w/ Eric Johnson), Texas Guitarslingers Volume I, Double Trouble’s Been A Long Time, and KLBJ-FM’s Local Licks.
Van Wilks credentials highlight his successful and storied past. 21st Century Blues lets us know that Van Wilks will continue to be a trendsetter that is here to stay.
- Acoustic guitar
- Electric guitar