AMERICAN acoustic guitarist Andy McKee was catapulted to stardom when his signature song Drifting landed 80 million internet hits.

A few hastily shot videos of McKee performing in a tiny room were posted on You Tube and the emotional depth of him playing rapidly caught the eye of guitar aficionadosand new admirers worldwide.

“It changed my life. I quit my job the next day and started performing and writing professionally, ” said McKee, who comes to Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre tomorrow night “Before, I was a guitar teacher in Kansas and a record label, Candyrat Records, got in touch and wanted me to shoot some videos for them to upload on the net and what followed was mind-boggling.

“It’s made it possible for me to tour all over the world and people who have never heard of finger-style guitar found that once they did they really liked it.

“What really impacts me though is when they tell me that I inspired them to pick up the guitar or to try new things and be creative.

“That’s the best thing about the internet; it’s democratic.

“Instead of record companies telling the fans what’s cool, they can decide for themselves — and be surprised.”

Interestingly, McKee plays without a guitar pick and his set is completely instrumental. It’s not classical, it’s not country, it’s not new age and it certainly isn’t heavy metal, his first love.

“I was really into metal as a kid and I still am,” he added.

“I love the power and the force of Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden and you do, I think, become a product of your inspiration. Those bands were always about the riff first, so I picked up quite a lot of knowledge about groove and rhythm by listening to them.

“I’ve always been drawn to music with an interesting or powerful rhythmic idea.”

Andy McKee, Clitheroe Grand Theatre, Friday, March 21. Details from 01200 421599.