Damian Salazar, a 23 year-old Argentinian busker, is a perfect example of how social media and digitalization can transform human lives. Guitarists the world over marvel at Salazar's unique style of playing.
Damian Salazar and his electric guitar have been a daily fixture on the busy Calle Florida in downtown Buenos Aires for over five 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. But this March, Salazar will be sorely missed by his local fan base in Buenos Aires, because he will be in Hannover to perform live at the CeBIT Global Conferences.
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.
Salazar’s fast-growing fan communities on Facebook and other social media finally gained the attention of Sony Music in 2013. Sony Music got in touch with Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s legendary bass player and composer, who was deeply moved by Salazar’s personal story and talent and invited him to work with him on a joint project.
Salazar, who lost his father at a young age, grew up in an impoverished part of Buenos Aires and built his first guitar at the age of seven from a broken tennis racket and empty tin cans, couldn’t believe his luck. Unsurprisingly, he agreed, prompting Waters to travel to Argentina to visit him in person in Villa 31, Buenos Aires’s biggest slum. The result was "The child will fly," a music video featuring Waters, Salazar, Shakira and even Salazar’s idol, Eric Clapton.
The project marked a turning point in Salazar’s life and has given him strength ever since. And he has certainly needed his strength – in 2013 he almost lost his life when a group of youths robbed him of his daily takings and put him in hospital. After several operations and intensive physiotherapy Damian Salazar is getting his life back. His ability to fund his medical treatment is in no small measure due to his popularity on social media. News of the misfortune that befell Argentina’s most famous street musician quickly spread, including via the country’s nationwide media.
Music industry publications already rank Salazar among the world’s most gifted guitarists – alongside the likes of Slash, Joe Satriani, Van Halen and Eric Clapton. In Argentina, he is certainly the undisputed number one in terms of sheer speed and extraordinary technique.
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.
At this year's CeBIT Global Conferences, Salazar will be performing on the Center Stage in Hall 8 just before 10 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. daily from Tuesday, 15 March, through Friday, 18 March. He will also be playing on the Monday evening at the CeBIT Welcome Night, on the Wednesday evening on the Open Stage, on the Thursday evening at the "CGC Night" at the Funpark venue, and on the Friday, the final day of CeBIT, for one last time on the Center Stage.