Richard Thompson is the greatest guitarist in British folk rock — and that's only one of the genres he has mastered. He was eighteen when he co-founded the English folk band Fairport Convention in By the time he left, in '71, Thompson had created a seamless world music for acoustic and electric guitar drawn from Celtic minstrelsy, psychedelia, Cajun dance tunes and Arabic scales.
He is also one of Britain's finest singer-songwriters. His records with his former wife Linda, made between and , are marvels of hair-raising musicianship and emotional candor. Try to see him live, with an electric band: The solos run long and wild. In , Eighteen-year-old John Frusciante, a bedroom-guitar prodigy from California's San Fernando Valley who had never played in a group before, auditioned for his favorite band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
He got the job — replacing Hillel Slovak, who died of a drug overdose in — and transformed the Peppers' rascally punk funk into beefy arena pop. On the multiplatinum album, BloodSugarSexMagik , Frusciante fortified the band's bone-hard grooves with a mix of Hendrixian force and, in the hit ballad "Under the Bridge," poignant Beatlesque melody. When Frusciante abruptly quit the Peppers in the middle of a Japanese tour in , he left a big hole in the group's sound that was only filled with his drug-free return on the Peppers' comeback album, Californication.
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White has become the hottest new thing on six strings by celebrating the oldest tricks in the book: distortion, feedback, plantation blues, the s-Michigan riff terrorism of the Stooges and the MC5. Onstage, decked out like a peppermint dandy, he violates classic covers Dolly Parton's "Jolene," Bob Dylan's "Isis" with fireball chords and primal, bent-string scream. He is also an acute orchestrator in the studio, stirring the scratchys atmosphere of Blind Willie Johnson sides, s punk and Led Zeppelin-style drama into his own howl.
Don't pay attention to the notes; White is not a clean soloist. He's a blowtorch. Johnny Ramone invented punk-rock guitar out of hatred: He couldn't stand guitar solos. So the former Johnny Cummings of Queens, New York, played nothing but concrete-block barre chords on twenty-one albums and 2, shows with the Ramones. His elementary attack was part of the essential simplicity — matching last names, two-minute tunes, a strict uniform of black leather and ripped denim — with which the kings of Queens ruled punk rock from the mids until they called it quits in But there was more to Johnny's sound than bricks of distortion.
And he didn't use any effects. The piercingly pure tone of Santana's guitar is among the most recognizable sounds in popular music. A towering musician who brought Latin rhythms and jazz improvisation to rock, Santana formed the first lineup of his namesake band in A fiery, impassioned soloist, Santana articulates fluid passages that culminate in lengthy sustained notes. From Santana's career-breakthrough performance at Woodstock in to the Grammys — where he won eight awards for Supernatural , tying Michael Jackson's record — Santana has remained a compelling musician with a devotional spirituality fueling his muse.
In , Beck formed his own heavier variation on the Yardbirds — the Jeff Beck Group, with then-unknown singer Rod Stewart — which added heavy-metal pow to British blues and became a major role model for Jimmy Page's Led Zeppelin. But Beck's commercial peak came in the mids, with an idiosyncratic style of jazz fusion whiplash melodies; artful, roaring distortion; whammy-bar hysterics that he still plays today with undiminished class and ferocity, when he isn't in his garage at home in England working under the hoods of vintage cars.
Garcia was a folk and blue-grass obsessive who started playing guitar at It was those roots, as well as a lifelong love of Chuck Berry, that gave his astral experiments with the Grateful Dead a sense of forward momentum. The piercing lyricism of this tone was all the more remarkable for the fact that he was missing the third finger of his right hand — the result of a childhood accident while he and his brother Tiff were chopping wood.https://plicyzticwetet.tk
He died in in rehab for his longtime drug habit. But his guitar still shines like a headlight on a northbound train.
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His cannonballs of fuzz and feedback bonfires on 's Nevermind announced the death of s stadium guitar rock. Cobain also reconciled his multiple obsessions — the Beatles, hardcore punk, the fatalist folk blues of Lead Belly — into a truly alternative rock that bloomed in the eccentric, gripping hooks and chord changes of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Come as You Are. On any given night, at least half the parking lots in America have a car with the windows down, the speakers cranked and a couple of dudes sitting on the trunk playing air guitar to Kirk Hammett solos.
Hammett is so steeped in metal history that he reportedly paid for his first guitar at fifteen with ten dollars and a copy of Kiss' Dressed to Kill. Metallica's dense thrash redefined hard rock more completely than any band since Led Zeppelin.
Hammett's lead guitar is the emotional heart of the music, from acoustic angst "Fade to Black" to badass flailing "Master of Puppets" , and, in "One," the sound of a guitar tapping out a cry for help in Morse code, over and over, until the parking lot closes down. In his forty-one years with the Rolling Stones, Richards has created, and immortalized on record, rock's greatest single body of riffs — including the fuzz-tone SOS of " I Can't Get No Satisfaction," the uppercut power chords of "Start Me Up," the black stab of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the strum and slash of virtually everything he plays on the Stones' classic, Exile on Main St.
Richards is not a fancy guitarist; his style is a simple, personalized extension of his teenage ardor for Chuck Berry and the swarthy electricity of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Born in Dartford, England, in , he was expelled from a technical college when he was sixteen.
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Richards is routinely hailed as the most indestructible of rock stars, but he credits his music with giving him life. As he told Rolling Stone last year, "You gotta be a real sourpuss, mate, not to get up there and play 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' without feeling like, 'C'mon, everybody, let's go.
In the s, there was no bigger rock group in the world than Led Zeppelin and no greater god on six strings than Zeppelin's founder-captain Jimmy Page. Nothing much has changed. The imperial weight, technical authority and exotic reach of Page's writing and playing on Zeppelin's eight studio albums have lost none of their power: the rusted, slow-death groan of Page's solo, played with a violin bow, in "Dazed and Confused," on Zeppelin's debut; the circular, cast-iron stammer of his riffing on "Black Dog," on the band's fourth LP; the melodic momentum and chrome-spear tone of his closing solo in Zeppelin's most popular song, "Stairway to Heaven.
In the early and mids, Page was a first-call studio musician in London, playing on Kinks and Everly Brothers dates and honing his production skills on singles for John Mayall and future Velvet Underground vocalist Nico. And before forming Zeppelin in London in the late summer of with singer Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones, Page had been the lead guitarist in the final lineup of the Yardbirds.
In Ry Cooder's hands, the guitar becomes a time machine. Ever since he began as a teen prodigy in the Sixties, he has been a virtuoso in a host of guitar styles going back to the most primal bottleneck blues, country, vintage jazz, Hawaiian slack-key guitar, Bahamian folk music and countless other styles. He's combined these different musical idioms into his own eclectic style as one of the world's foremost performing musicologists. He got his start playing the blues with Taj Mahal in the Sixties and, after a stint in Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, began making solo records such as Paradise and Lunch and Chicken Skin Music , unearthing obscure folk tunes like "Vigilante Man" and "Boomer's Story" and breathing slide-guitar life into them.
He continues to explore sounds from around the world, collaborating with African guitarist Ali Farka Toure on the Talking Timbuktu and assembling old-school Cuban musicians for the wildly successful Buena Vista Social Club. With the blinding stratocaster fireworks on his debut album, Texas Flood , in , Stevie Ray Vaughan kicked off a blues-rock renaissance when the music needed one most: the heyday of hair-spray metal and synth-pop. Until , Vaughan's fame was limited to clubs in central Texas, where he perfected a brass-knuckled soul influenced by Jimi Hendrix's psychedelia and the funky twang of Lonnie Mack.
By the late s, he was filling arenas with his longtime band Double Trouble. He was thirty-five. His signature lick — a staccato, double-string screech descended from Chicago blues with a strong country inflection — is the music's defining twang. Louis before "Maybellene" made him a star. Berry's career was sidelined by a two-year jail stint in the early s; his only Number One single was the mildly pornographic singalong "My Ding-a-Ling" in Nothing else matters.
Johnson is the undisputed king of the Mississippi Delta blues singers and one of the most original and influential voices in American music. Johnson's recorded legacy — a mere twenty-nine songs cut in and '37 — is the foundation of all modern blues and rock. Legend has it that Johnson made a deal with the devil to acquire his guitar gifts. There was certainly a lot of daredevilry in his flouting of standard tempos and harmonics; his records are breathtaking displays of melodic development and acute brawn.
Johnson died in at twenty-seven, poisoned by a jealous husband. Fifty-eight years later, a box set of his recordings was certified platinum. It first appeared in , written on the walls of the London subway: "Clapton is God. But Clapton was already soloing with the improvisational nerve that has dazzled fans and peers for forty years.
In his stint with the Yardbirds, Clapton's nickname was Slowhand, an ironic reference to the velocity of his lead breaks. But Clapton insisted in a Rolling Stone interview, "I think it's important to say something powerful and keep it economical. The solo albums that followed Layla, his tour de force with Derek and the Dominos, emphasize his desires as a singer-songwriter. But on the best, like 's 46I Ocean Boulevard and 's Money and Cigarettes , his solos and flourishes still pack the power that made him "God" in the first place. The self-proclaimed "Ambassador of the Blues" has become such a beloved figure in American music, it's easy to forget how revolutionary his guitar work was.
From the opening notes of his breakthrough hit. King's fluid guitar leads took off from T-Bone Walker. His string-bending and vibrato made his famous guitar, Lucille, weep like a real-life woman. It was the start of a hugely influential blues-guitar style. As Buddy Guy put it, "Before B. King remains unstoppable, touring hard and cutting albums such as his recent Eric Clapton collaboration, Riding With the King. If the late Duane Allman had done nothing but session work, he would still be on this list. His contributions on lead and slide guitar to dozens of records as fine and as varied as Wilson Pickett's down-home '69 cover of "Hey Jude" and Eric Clapton's masterpiece with Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs , constitute an astounding body of work.
But Allman also transformed the poetry of jamming with the Allman Brothers Band, the group he founded in with his younger brother, singer-organist Gregg. Duane applied the same black soul and rebel fire he displayed as a sideman to the Allmans' extended investigations of Muddy Waters and Blind Willie McTell covers and to his psychedelic-jazz interplay with second guitarist Dickey Betts in live showpieces such as "Whipping Post.
In October , eight months after the Fillmore East gigs, Allman died in a motorcycle accident in the band's home base of Macon, Georgia. I feel sad for people who have to judge Jimi Hendrix on the basis of recordings and film alone; because in the flesh he was so extraordinary. He had a kind of alchemist's ability; when he was on the stage, he changed. He physically changed. He became incredibly graceful and beautiful.
It wasn't just people taking LSD, though that was going on, there's no question. But he had a power that almost sobered you up if you were on an acid trip. He was bigger than LSD. What he played was fucking loud but also incredibly lyrical and expert. He managed to build this bridge between true blues guitar — the kind that Eric Clapton had been battling with for years and years — and modern sounds, the kind of Syd Barrett-meets-Townshend sound, the wall of screaming guitar sound that U2 popularized.
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