Leo Kottke (born September 11, 1945) is a legendary acoustic guitar virtuoso who has developed a cult following of fellow guitarists and fans over the span of a 30-year career of recording and performing. Blending folk, jazz, and blues influences into a signature finger-picked style of syncopated, polyphonic music, Kottke's work pre-dated and predicted much of the New Age instrumental music movement, and is often considered part of the American Primitivism movement, partly because he was signed to John Fahey's Takoma Records label. Kottke has overcome a series of personal obstacles including partial deafness and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage to emerge as a widely-recognized master of his instrument.
As a youth living in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Kottke played trombone and violin before moving to the guitar and developing his own unconventional picking style. A mishap with a firecracker permanently damaged his hearing in one ear, a condition that would be exacerbated during firing practice during his service in the United States Naval Reserve .