Django Reinhardt with his electric guitar and Duke Ellington. The best version of Django, at the end of his career.
Many guitar players, and musicians, have expressed admiration for Django Reinhardt, or have cited him as a major influence. Jeff Beck has described Reinhardt as "By far the most astonishing guitar player ever..." and "...quite superhuman..."
Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, both of whom lost fingers in accidents, were particularly inspired by Reinhardt's ability to become an accomplished guitar player/musician, despite the diminished use of his own permanently injured hand following an accident. Jerry Garcia as quoted in June 1985 in Frets Magazine ; "His technique is awesome! Even today, nobody has really come to the state that he was playing at. As good as players are, they haven’t gotten to where he is. There’s a lot of guys that play fast and a lot of guys that play clean, and the guitar has come a long way as far as speed and clarity go, but nobody plays with the whole fullness of expression that Django has. I mean, the combination of incredible speed – all the speed you could possibly want – but also the thing of every note have a specific personality. You don’t hear it. I really haven’t heard it anywhere but with Django".
Songs written in Reinhardt's honour include "Django," an instrumental guitar piece by renowned blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa. The piece was influenced by the violin introduction of "Vous et Moi" (Blues et Mineur 1942, Brussels) where Reinhardt himself played the violin. Vous et Moi (You and Me) became the title of Bonamassa's sixth album where the track first appeared in 2006. Slightly longer live versions appear on LIVE...From Nowhere in Particular (2009), and in DVD from 4 May concert at Royal Albert Hall. "Django," composed by John Lewis, which has become a jazz standard performed by musicians such as Miles Davis. The Modern Jazz Quartet titled one of their albums Django in honour of him. The Allman Brothers Band song "Jessica" was written by Dickey Betts in tribute to Reinhardt – he wanted to write a song that could be played using only two fingers. This aspect of the artist's work also motivated Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who was inspired by Reinhardt to keep playing guitar after a factory accident that cost him two fingertips. Composer Jon Larsen has composed several crossover concerts featuring Reinhardt-inspired music together with symphonic arrangements, most famous are "White Night Stories" (2002) and "Vertavo" (1996).
Cuban composer and guitarist Leo Brouwer composed Variations on a Theme of Django Reinhardt for solo guitar (1984). It is based on Nuages, by Reinhardt.
In 2005, Django Reinhardt took 66th place in the election of The Greatest Belgian (De Grootste Belg) in Flanders and 76th place in the Walloon version of the same competition Le plus grand Belge.
Each year the village of Liberchies (Belgium) where Django was born celebrate a festival.
Born January 1910 in Liberchies (Belgium), Django Reinhardt was raised within the nomadic life of a Rom gypsy caravan, following the various Gypsy tribes to transient locations with primitive conditions. Reinhardt's nickname was "Django", the Romani word for "I awake". Reinhardt never set foot in a real house or decent habitable structure until he was 20, but grew up living in the ignominious slums and squalor of outer Paris near the Choisy Gate.
The young Django Reinhardt with a banjo
Django developed a strong interest in music which resulted in his first instrumental escapades on violin and banjo. Being exposed to the Gypsy music mixed with a vast array of European genres, he picked up and absorbed a huge pallet of harmonic tonalities at an early age.
Django Reinhardt quickly became facile on the violin and switched to guitar in his early teens. By age 13 he was already performing with accordionist Guerino in the Rue Monge. Playing around the Paris environs and astonishing listeners with his prodigious skills on the guitar and violin, he played with numerous small bands eventually recording with accordionist Jean Vaissade on the Ideal Label.