Finding the right teachers can do wonders for one's education. In Coco Montoya's case, the teachers found him. The super-journeyman blues guitarist and vocalist has been in the right place at the ideal moment more than once in his career, and the tutelage he received has paid in spades. Backing up his formidable blues chops with plenty of rock and roll muscle, Montoya has scored large with critics and established himself as a world-class blues-rocker.
Starting out on drums, the L.A.-bred Montoya hooked up in the mid-'70s with Albert Collins, when the late blues master was in need of a touring drummer. The guitar legend's energy and intensity clicked resoundingly with rock listeners, and he tutored his young drummer in many a hotel room. When gigs got scarce, Montoya returned to L.A. and to the woodshed. He was jamming at a local bar when John Mayall -- no slouch at judging guitar talent -- showed up. Montoya's prowess put him in line to follow Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor into the lead guitar slot of Mayall's re-formed Bluesbreakers for 10 years. Montoya went solo in 1995, amassing a respectable catalog last added to in 2002 with Can't Look Back, a top-notch crossover blues effort dosed with minor-keyed torch ballads, a flash of Motown, and heaps of rock power.