David Perry Lindley (born March 21, 1944) is an American musician who founded the band El Rayo-X, and who has worked with many other performers including Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Curtis Mayfield and Dolly Parton. He has mastered such a wide variety of instruments that Acoustic Guitar magazine referred to Lindley not as a multi-instrumentalist, but instead as a "maxi-instrumentalist."
The majority of the instruments that Lindley plays are string instruments, including the acoustic and electric guitar, upright and electric bass, banjo, lap steel guitar, mandolin, hardingfele, bouzouki, cittern, bağlama, gumbus, charango, cümbüş, oud, and zither.
Lindley was a founding member of the 1960s band Kaleidoscope, and has worked as musical director for several touring artists. In addition, he has occasionally scored and composed music for film.
As a teenager, Lindley took to playing the banjo and the fiddle. By his late teens, he was acknowledged as an award-winning player, having won the Topanga Banjo•Fiddle Contest five times. From 1966 to 1970, Lindley was a founding member of the all-styles psychedelic band Kaleidoscope which released four albums on Epic Records during that period.
After Kaleidoscope broke up, he went to England and played in Terry Reid's band for a couple years. In 1972, he teamed up with Jackson Browne, and played in his band through 1980. During the 1970s, he also toured as a member of the bands of Crosby-Nash, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.
In 1981, Lindley formed his own band, El Rayo-X. Jackson Browne produced their first album. Their last show before breaking up was December 31, 1989. Since that time, he has toured as a solo artist, and as half of a duo, first with Hani Naser, then with Wally Ingram. He also played on a multitude of studio sessions. Between his work in the studio as a session musician or on tour as a sideman or bandleader, Lindley has worked on learning new instruments.
Lindley is known for his work as a session musician. He has contributed to recordings and live performances by Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt, Curtis Mayfield, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Terry Reid, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Toto, Rod Stewart and Joe Walsh. He has also collaborated with fellow guitarists Ry Cooder and Henry Kaiser. Artist Ben Harper has credited Lindley's distinctive slide guitar style as a major influence on his own playing and in 2006 Lindley sat in on Harper's album Both Sides of the Gun. He is known in the guitar community for his use of "cheap" instruments sold at Sears department stores and intended for amateurs. He uses these for the unique sound they produce, especially with a slide. In the early 1990s, he toured and recorded with Hani Naser adding percussive instruments to his solo performances, and his instrumental repertoire which he uses in his session work. In recent years, Lindley has also toured extensively and recorded with reggae percussionist Wally Ingram. It is his touring around the world that has exposed him to part of his array of instruments that appear exotic to many Western audiences.
Lindley's voice is heard in the version of "Stay" performed by Jackson Browne. Browne's version is a continuation of "The Load Out", and its refrain is sung in progressively higher vocal ranges. The refrain of "Oh won't you stay, just a little bit longer" is sung first by Browne, then by Rosemary Butler, then by Lindley in falsetto.
Lindley joined Jackson Browne for a tour of Spain in 2006. Love Is Strange: En Vivo Con Tino, a 2-CD set of recordings from that tour, was released May 11, 2010, with Browne and Lindley touring together starting in June of that year. The duo also won an Independent Music Award for Best Live Performance Album
Lindley has a large collection of rare and unusual guitars and other instruments from the Middle East and various parts of the world. Lindley has listed and categorized many of them on his website but admits that he has "absolutely no idea" how many instruments he owns and plays, having gathered them since the 1960s.