From Two Strokes and a Heart-Attack to a New Song and Abbey Road Studio

Having survived two-strokes and a heart-attack, I figured I’d better get around to doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do; write, record and publish a few songs. My first song is about the way people in our lives impact our relationships with the things “They Say”. And don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to buy it below the video! Ha!

Fully story is below the video:


Rick McCargar | Maxstrumental 6C | CD Baby Music Store.

Download “They Say (You Set Me Free) from cdbaby.

Download “They Say (You Set Me Free) from iTunes.

What a journey this has been! From a prognosis of an early death, to writing, copyrighting, recording and publishing my first song at age fifty-six. But first, a little background.

In November of 2004, age forty-seven, I experienced two strokes and a heart attack, and was told I’d be lucky to live three months. I couldn’t read, make new memories, and had poor control of my left hand and arm.

To further complicate matters, I’ve spent a lifetime struggling with the problems associated with being manic-depressive (cannot thank supportive family and friends enough).

Beyond the obviously more important family related trauma and issues, guitar playing, which had been a life-long passion, was out.

Family flew in from around the country to say goodbye, and then I waited….waited some more, took all the meds, did what the doctors suggested, and got my affairs in order. And..continued to wait.

Crazy part of the story…I didn’t die.

By late 2011, I was still kicking, could read (though still made difficult because of the mania and depression) but still couldn’t play guitar, so I decided to work on playing a single note, then one more with the next finger on the next fret.

Working on that for months, without realizing it, I was busy rewiring my brain.

I started to record my progress playing guitar, and to watch for problems or signs of another stroke.

With time, the videos started to become a bit longer, less amateurish, so I decided to start posting the licks, solos and songs I was relearning, with the hope that they would be of use to beginners, and that it would help me maintain the drive to practice.

Fast forward to 2014, and I have 1660 followers on my youtube channel, and over 445,000 views. It seems crazy. I’ll likely never perform live, because I forget all too many pieces after relearning them, but I have them recorded, so it’s progress.

Best of all, I’m alive to see my children have children, and get to play with my grandchildren.

In February, I made the decision to write a simple song, and do something I’ve always wanted to do…work with Abbey Road Studios in London.

Without the funds to actually fly to London and record using their studio, I did the only thing I could, to make it happen; I recorded it using the microphone on my ZOOM Q3HD video camera, and then sent it to Simon Gibson of Abbey Road Online Mastering to have it mastered.

Simon was the man charged with remastering the entire Beatles catalog, so I was excited.

I know you can’t make a silk-purse out of a sow’s ear, and that at fifty-six, I’m pretty old to be an amateur singer and guitarist, but Mr. Gibson would be the one man who could make the most of the simple recording.

Having already built a world-wide semiconductor company and lost everything, hated sky-diving but did it, gone white-water rafting and hang-gliding and learned to race cars, I figured the worst that could come of this new endeavor is that nobody would enjoy my song, but that I would have once more, followed my dream wherever it took me.

It truly is the journey, and not the destination. Make sure to die with few regrets, leave no stone unturned… apparently, before your eyes, I’m becoming cliche man.

Now, I’d like to share the quote by which I’ve lived my life. It was an excerpt from a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt; “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As I own all my successes and my failures, whatever happens here, with this song, is okay with me. It’s a challenge, and an experience about which I’ve dreamed. They can only get better with practice.

Most everyone who has ever been in a relationship has had people tell them that the person is not right for them. They Say the person is wrong for you, They Say this, they say that..they meddle with and in your relationship, and it has an affect. So my first song is about life and relationships. It’s brief. Much more so than this post.

The song is titled: They Say. Below, you’ll find the video, and following that there is another link to purchase and download an MP3 from cdbaby.

But before you go, thank you for taking part in this new phase of my life! I can’t thank you all enough.

I wish you the best of luck, and by luck, I mean those things we do to increase opportunities for ourselves!


Well, here’s that second, fleeting chance to buy the MP3 for every bit of $0.99 on cdbaby. I sure appreciate all the support the community has given freely over the past two years, thank you!

Rick McCargar: I

Download “Little Martha” from iTunes, I’d sure appreciate it!
Little Martha – Rick McCargar



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My Love Affair With Guitars – I have been faithful to them all

My guitars
I started learning to play guitar in the late 60’s while listening to Hendrix on an AM radio with a single mono ear bud.

But long before that, I was (or thought I was) Roy Rogers, the Singing Cowboy! I couldn’t imagine a better fate than to ride around on Trigger, with my dog and companion Bullet along-side, singing songs, catching the bad guys, saving everyone who was in need, and being loved by all.

My first guitar had been previously abandoned by some young adult living next door to our house, and apparently someone had put their foot through it. Eagerly, I hustled up to the front door, knocked, and asked if he minded my (in true Roy Rogers fashion) rescuing the guitar that had been obviously and mistakenly left on the ground back by his garage…

The prize was mine. Couldn’t believe my good fortune having been the first to notice it back by the trash.

My second guitar was a creation of my own mind and hands. My father brought a peach-crate home from the grocery store he managed at the time, and I quickly disassembled it, as would any ten-year-old, and reassembled the pieces into a version of a guitar upon which I stretched three, looped rubber bands.

My rubber band guitar had not been crushed, and now had strings that I could change with reckless abandon, in the fashion I imagined done by wealthy rock-stars, who cared nothing about the cost of a new set of strings.

It was that rubber-band guitar I first used to play along with not only the Beatles, but Clapton and Hendrix. No longer a singing cowboy, I was now a full-fledged rock-star.

The secret to a career as a sideman for the biggest stars, is to turn the record-player up sufficiently loud that while you flail away on your guitar, you can tell you have the rhythm down pat because it feels right, but you cannot hear your guitar. It was amazing. No doubt I was a ten-year-old virtuoso.

That was working wonderfully, until a friend wanted to listen to me jam, and while jamming, turned down the record player.

Rock was meant to be played loud, and because of that simple fact, it was several years before I realized I could not play guitar. Not a single verse, chorus, refrain…not even a chord, certainly not an entire song. What a drag. My career was dying before my eyes.

After my shame subsided, I convinced my parents of six-children, to buy a guitar for their eldest son.

That year for Christmas, I received my first, in-tact, real guitar…a nylon string classical. You know the kind. The type of guitar that no budding rock-star, anywhere, ever asked for.

It was two years before I learned how to tune my guitar, but in the mean time, I practiced doing single string melodies.

I didn’t know another guitar player near my age until high-school, by which time I had taught myself how to finger-pick (guitar and banjo) and flat-pick a few songs by ear. I would just keep moving the needle on the record player back and forth until I figured out what I thought they were doing.

My family recounts to this day, their enjoyment in hearing me play the same melodious guitar licks, repetitively, non-stop, for days/weeks/months depending on who tells the story of my glory.

Loves Lost
(a few of my lost but not forgotten loves)

Sadly, I don’t have a single photo of me with my first guitars, but I do know the whereabouts of my first electric – my son has it, and it sits about forty-feet from me as I key in this post.

Here’s my favorite embarrassing shot of me [playing banjo while wearing a bullfighter’s hat. …don’t ask, I don’t have a good answer why…I was a teen in the 70’s, that’s why?!?
Playing banjo circa 1976

Although life has a habit of derailing many dreams, I never lost my love affair with guitars.

I love their curves, the scent of unfinished wood from the interior of an acoustic, the feel of the neck as one moves from caressing it to conquering it over the decades, the wonderful and rich harmonics they murmur or shout that occasionally surprise me to this day.

Every guitar, including inexpensive models that many might ignore, have at least one song that is waiting to be coaxed out of it. One song that only that guitar could have inspired its lover to find.

I never stopped playing. While building a world-wide semiconductor company, flying over 200K miles per year for business, I continued to find new and lovely pieces of playable art and to play.

A few years ago, I had a couple of strokes (could no longer play) and was told I’d to expect to live perhaps up to three months.

I won’t bother you with details. Yes, I Survived, but my memory was shot and my left hand wouldn’t cooperate, so I had to re-learn how to play. Started practicing in earnest in December of 2011, and recorded my progress. Eventually, I started uploading them recordings to YouTube figuring that the videos of my re-learning favorite licks/solos and songs might be useful to some who were also learning.

So now I have the GuitarLicksAndTabs YouTube channel and post the guitar tablature that I write for each here on my blog.

Because some find the videos and tab to be of use, I now have played guitar (even if poorly, or only a lick or solo) in front of over 225,000 people on YouTube, and have over 600 YouTube guitarists following me for my monthly lessons.

Funny that this was not the vision I had of being famous for playing guitar, and although not actually famous, who would have thought after my strokes and disability that I’d be only weeks away from a quarter-million people having seen me play?

My passion for guitar only grows, and the dream never dies, it evolves and matures.

Download “Little Martha” from iTunes, I’d sure appreciate it!
Little Martha – Rick McCargar



Rick McCargar: I

Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer Guitar Effect Pedal

TC Electronics Tone Print Pedal 960803001 HOF Mini Reverb Electric Guitar Single Effect

TC Electronics 960802001 Spark Mini Booster Guitar Pedal

Snark Guitar tuner – Less than $11