Gary “Bubba” Gibson began a musical life very early with piano lessons beginning at the age of 5 and continuing for 7 years. The sister of legendary drummer, Louie Bellson, was his piano teacher. Gibson started saving for a guitar in 3rd grade and Gary’s first paid performance was in 1965 at a Labor Day picnic.
His influences, inspirations and favorite artists include B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Kim Simmonds, Jimmy Reed, Roy Buchanon, Danny Gatton, Luther Allison, Wes Montgomery, Duane Allman, Dicky Betts, Jeff Beck, Willie Dixon, Elmore James, Johnny & Santo, Duane Eddy, Kenny Burrell, Robin Ford, Larry Carlton, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Guitar Shorty, Buddy Guy, Junior Brown, Jeff Healey, and John Cipollina.
Along with his own bands, Gibson has also performed with Next of Kin, Riff Raff, Something For The People, Fat Chance, Harmonica Slim & the Works, Royal Rockers, Ernie Peniston, The Runaways (with Jim Schwall), Lustre King, Sarah Greene & Gary Gibson, Mark Arnould & the Vipers, and Hawkeye Herman.
Notable artists that Gibson has performed with (most but not all of these were at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival after-fest jams that Gary hosted for several years) include B.B. King, Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, Carl Weathersby, Billy Branch, Guy Davis, Shirley Lewis, E.C. Scott & Smoke, Mighty Sam McClain, Harry Hypolite, Lonnie Brooks, Tab Benoit, Anthony Gomes, Elvin Bishop, Big Daddy Kinsey & the Kinsey Report, Chris Cain, Geno Delafose, Louisiana Red, Luther Allison, Michael Burks, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Lil’ Ed, Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames, Magic Dick, Jay Geils, Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang, Big Mike Griffin, Savoy Brown, Larry McCray, Big Time Sarah, Jim Schwall, Chris Smither, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Washboard Chaz, Sarah Greene, The Radiators, Guitar Shorty, the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bernard Allison, Mike Zito, Nick Moss & The Fliptops, Nora Jean Bruso, and Paul Reddick & The Sidemen. He has also jammed with countless Iowa musicians including several fellow IBHOF inductees.
In addition to the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, Gibson has also performed at the Bluesmore (where he did a Back Porch/Blues For Kids program for 7 years), Mid-Mississippi Muddy Water, Prairie Dog, Bowlful of Blues, Court Avenue, Blues ‘n’ Barbeque, Sioux City River, and Rock Island Summer fests, among others.
He has also performed at the famed Col Ballroom in Davenport several times, and performed in New York City at Manny’s Car Wash, as well as the Walk For The Cure Fest twice. He performed live on WGN Radio in 1987 with Harmonica Slim & the Works, and also performed at Chicago’s House of Blues in 1997. This is in addition to countless other gigs, including many at area state fairs.
Twice his band won the regional portion of the Iowa Blues Challenge and Gary was The Guitar Center’s 2007 regional King Of The Blues winner.
In addition to giving private guitar lessons since 1967 at the age of 15, Gibson has also contributed several recordings over the years, along with teaching music and guitar at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and has been active in Blues In The Schools programs with both the Mississippi Valley and Linn County Blues Societies.