Django Reinhardt: Gipsy Jazz Inspiration

Django Reinhardt was a famous jazz composer and guitarist, who became one of the most critical soloists of gipsy jazz. Even today, some 60 years after his death, he inspires many young guitarists.


Django Reinhardt was born into a family of Manouche Gypsies in Belgium in 1910. He spent most of his childhood in gipsy camps near Paris and learned to play the banjo, violin and guitar at a young age. As a youth, Reinhardt played in the clubs and cabarets of Montmartre and Pigalle in Paris. When he lost the use of two fingers in a caravan fire in 1928, he had to adapt his playing technique to accommodate his handicap. His unconventional technique gave him the name Three-Fingered-Lightening.

King of Gypsy Jazz

Influenced by American jazz, and Louis Armstrong in particular, he developed his own style of gipsy jazz together with Stephane Grappelli, a fellow gipsy musician. Together they formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France, which was composed only of string musicians, and became one of the few famous ensembles of its kind. Through his original compositions and brilliant guitar playing, Django Reinhardt became known as the king of gipsy jazz, and he is to this day, one of the most influential solo guitarists of his time. He died in France in 1953.

Musicians Inspired by Django Reinhardt

The guitarist, Tony Iommi, of Black Sabbath, lost two fingers in an industrial accident. When he heard about Django Reinhardt, he was inspired to start playing his guitar again.

The solo jazz guitarist Joe Pass is known as a technically proficient and melodically complex musician. He takes his inspiration from Django Reinhardt, and expresses his admiration in his 1964 album “For Django”.

Many bands around the world play the gipsy jazz that Django Reinhardt invented. Django Reinhardt Festivals are famous and visited by many. There are workshops for guitarists to learn to play like Django Reinhardt.