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(Reprint from International Musician Magazine) MUSICIAN UPDATE …. In our ongoing saga of unsung guitar heroes, not to be overlooked is one of the most versatile players to have lasted for four decades in an often unforgiving business. Hailing from Mobile Alabama, Jay Jernigan began his journey in 1969 at the age of 12 when he lobbied his parents relentlessly for a $24 Sears box guitar. Like most guitarists he learned by ear and was soon entrenched in all facets of the then-blossoming folk music movement in Southern churches. An avid rocker long before then, it took no time to make the next very “obvious” leap to an electric guitar. In what was supposed to be an impossible bet, his father remarked after watching Mason Williams perform “Classical Gas” on the Ed Sullivan Show: “When you can play that song, we’ll buy you an electric guitar.” With a fervent desire to join the Woodstock generation, following two months of “wood-shedding” and a successful recital of that song, Jernigan found himself with electric ax firmly in hand. Louder-higher-faster: he never looked back. By age 16 he was performing professionally in bar bands, while involving himself in high school music programs. He was a top-notch symphony and drumline percussionist, skills that would later on pay off in spades. Known on the Gulf Coast as the premier “guitar gunslinger” he was sought after by the many then-burgeoning “southern rock” bands. At 18 he received a full scholarship to the College of Fine Arts at Southern Miss. where he immersed himself in drum-line, music education and jazz lab guitar programs. Awarded an Associates degree in music, he headed back out onto the road as a touring utility musician, working in special event show groups on the Florida panhandle. Audiences were thrilled with his deadly accurate renditions of Hendrix, Van Halen and Skynyrd: a fan base followed. Over the next 20 years he diversified into all aspects of guitar and music production. In the 80’s he was a pioneer in new standards of guitar amplification rack systems and tone modules. He was one of the prototype guitarists for MESA Engineering’s Simul-class model. He has been an active endorser for EMG pick-ups, MESA Boogie Amplification systems and numerous smaller design companies. His guitars have included Gibson, Yamaha, B.C. Rich, ESP, Valley Arts, Martin, Brian Moore and Paul Reed Smith: all custom-modified to his design standards. He also branched out to become an accomplished and awarded audio technician and designer in both the recording studio and live sound-reinforcement career fields. He has produced and engineered four outstanding recordings, done numerous studio installations and remains an advocate of critical listening technology. Jernigan’s client roster is a veritable “who’s-who” of adult contemporary artists. A protégée of such luminaries as Steve Lukather (Toto) and Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs), his versatility in performing genres has proven to be an attractive strong point when working as utility sideman. He has shared the stage with Rita Coolidge, Billy Ocean, Chaka Khan, Lee Greenwood, Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., and Little Anthony & the Imperials. Stylistically he is equally at home performing country, rock, jazz and instrumental fusion. For over two decades he has worked as a performer, consultant and director of entertainment programs for the U.S. Air Force, performing throughout the United States and in 21 countries worldwide. Currently in semi-retirement he resides on the East Coast and remains available for contract.

Screen name:
Member since:
Mar 12 2010
Active within 1 month
Level of commitment:
Years playing music:
Gigs played:
Over 100
Tend to practice:
More than 3 times per week
Available to gig:
2-3 nights a week
Most available:




Influences are everyone prior to 2000: I'm a contract musician. I deal in "time and tone". Looking for full time professional group in central FL. However also available as single gig lead player (w or w/o rehearsal) and solo artist back-up accompanist. Think jazz standards or start-up vocalists. Proficient in all styles. Reads.

Instrument experience:

Lead Guitar:


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