The Tyler, TX-raised Bugs Henderson took his cues from the wealth of great roadhouse blues and blues-rock guitarists that were around Dallas, including Freddie King, Johnny Winter, and literally dozens of others on the Texas music scene of the '60s. Henderson has cited James Burton, Ricky Nelson's guitarist, as a major influence.
Henderson got his first guitar, a Montgomery Ward Airline, one year at Christmas when he was just six years old. Like Louisianan Sonny Landreth, also an exquisite player, Henderson began working in a record store in his teens. As a teenager, he would sneak out of the house to see live shows at local clubs, and he formed his first band, the Sensors, at 16. He later joined a friend, Ronnie Weiss, in a band called Mouse & the Traps, and they charted their first regional radio hit, "Public Execution" in 1966. Although he played in a procession of rock bands and studio sessions for country and rock musicians, by the early '70s Henderson realized the only music he was truly passionate about was blues. His mentor and friend, the legendary Freddie King, advised him to form his own band and follow his heart. By 1978, Henderson released his first record, At Last, for Texas-based Armadillo Records. The album would be the first of more than 14 records in the ensuing three decades. By the late '90s, Henderson was recording for the Portland, OR-based Burnside Records. His albums for that label include 1998's Have Blues...Must Rock, and a later release, Backbop. Other releases include Electric Snow, Stormy Love, Adventures of the Shuffle Kings, and Gitarbazndrumz.
Henderson lives in Garland, TX with his four children and has a simple, overriding philosophy of life: family first, music second, career third. As he explained in the biography accompanying one of his Burnside Records releases, "I couldn't have the life I have now and be a major star. Couldn't go to my kids' ball games. I wouldn't give that up for anything." For the limited touring he does do each year, Henderson takes his family on the road with him: son Buddy plays drums with his father, son Cody works as a sound tech for the band, and daughter Rose sells merchandise. Despite his limited touring and the limited distribution of his recordings over the years with smaller labels like Burnside, Henderson and his varying bands have shared stages with guitar icons including Ted Nugent, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. One of Henderson's guitars hangs proudly in the Hard Rock Café' in Dallas, alongside instruments donated by Chet Atkins and Lee Ritenour.
Henderson recently released a DVD, Live at the Grenada, recorded in Texas, and his website indicates he continues to tour Europe, select festivals around the U.S., and in clubs and theaters around Texas. He made a conscious decision some years ago to avoid grueling road trips, and said in a biography for Burnside Records, "I tell people all the time that I know you're supposed to stop and smell the roses as you go through life, but in my case I stopped and moved into the garden." ~ Richard Skelly