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Corby Yates Passes Away

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Foothills guitar prodigy Corby Yates remembered fondly By Mike Osegueda - The Fresno Bee

By Mike Osegueda The Fresno Bee

Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 | 12:42 PM Modified Thu, Sep 27, 2012 12:54 PM

When Corby Yates was 11, he won the Guitar Wars competition as the event's youngest entrant.

At 16, he won the national Jimi Hendrix Music Competition. He was a junior at Sierra High School in Auberry.

"My goal is to become the best blues musician that ever was," Corby told The Bee around that time.

Over the years, Yates went from guitar prodigy to guitar virtuoso. He released four albums, toured around the West, played with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Cheap Trick, and collected dedicated fans who celebrated the teenager with the guitar skills beyond his years.

But like Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Yates had a gift that didn't last nearly as long as it should have.

SPECIAL TO THE BEE Corby Yates rose from a musical prodigy out the Sierra foothills to the one of the most revered blues guitarists to emerge from the Valley.

Corby Yates took his own life Monday night. He had struggled with schizophrenia and mental health issues in recent years. He was 31.

"He was dealing with a lot of stuff for a long time," says Toby Cordova, a childhood friend and life-long musical partner of Yates. "He held out as long as he could. He's free now.

"There was nobody like him," says Cordova, who, with Strange Vine bandmate Ian Blesse, grew up backing Yates. "This guy was the best. He was a Jedi."

After high school, Yates moved to Santa Cruz to pursue music, then to Burnt Ranch and, most recently, to Brownsville, near Chico.

When news of Yates' death trickled back to the Fresno music scene, the reaction was a mixture of surprise, sadness and appreciation.

"A legend" is what Rudy Parris, himself one of the top guitar players locally, called Yates.

"The greatest guitarist out of all us," wrote Cole Fonseca, another of a crop of stellar young guitar players in the Valley.

Before people like Fonseca and Trey Tosh, there was Yates, who became one of the area's top young rising stars in the '90s, playing at festivals and clubs. Yates' last local show was in 2009, opening for Robin Trower at the Tower Theatre.

Not only did Yates have all those accolades, but he left an impression on so many. Online remembrances this week have been filled with talk about his jaw-dropping performances at school talent shows and how under his nice, shy and quiet persona lived a funny kid who shined brightest on stage.

There will be a private funeral for Yates, but local musicians, including Cordova and Blesse, are talking about an event to honor their friend.

While Yates didn't quite reach the goal he set at 15, some people will tell you he was still the best.

"He was," Cordova says, "the best friend a guy could ever have."

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/09/27/3008971/foothills-guitar-prodigy-corby.html#storylink=cpy

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Damn sad;


Don't you know that you are a shooting star ..


R I P Corby Yates,





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