Damian Salazar and his electric guitar have been a daily fixture on the busy Calle Florida in downtown Buenos Aires for over six years. His breathtaking playing speed and his innovative interpretation of classics like “Stairway to Heaven,” “Sultans of Swing” and “Beat it” enthrall both locals and tourists from all over the world. He is also an absolute Internet sensation. Clips of his performances on Facebook and YouTube have been viewed four million times and shared a further two million times.
Guitar players the world over marvel at Salazar’s playing skills and post their admiring comments on the web. One clip shows Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, who had just finished playing at one of his band’s concerts at a stadium in Buenos Aires, stopping in the street and watching in amazement as Salazar plays Deep Purple covers with great virtuosity, lightning speed and in his own unique style.
Damian Salazar’s life story is very similar to that of many young people in South America. His father died when he was young, and there was no money to nurture his talent. But none of this stopped him from realizing his dream of becoming a professional musician.
Salazar received his first guitar lessons from Japanese immigrants. When he was twelve he was finally able to buy his first proper instrument. His incredible virtuosity is the result of his own initiative and hard work. Salazar still practices for up to four hours each day. He then further hones his guitar skills on the streets for up to seven hours – and in all weather conditions. His dream is to have an international career outside of Facebook & Co. However, he is still deeply grateful to social media. “Without Facebook and the worldwide exposure it gave me, I would not have the opportunities I have today,” he said.
Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world and dates back to antiquity. People engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers.