A while back I wrote a blog about my favourite bands. So it makes sense to then do a similar list about my favourite guitarists. So that’s what this is. My personal favourite guitarists.
This man plays with fire. And it’s telling that some of the magic left Guns N’ Roses when he did and that it returned when he did. He has almost become the archetypal lead guitarist. The mane of black curls covering his eyes, top hat perched atop them, cigarette dangling from his mouth, Les Paul slung low. His blues influenced licks speak of his musical education from bands also steeped in the blues like AC/DC and Aerosmith. Slash’s riffs also show off the ‘no bullshit, don’t tell me what to do’ attitude of an old school punk who doesn’t care about what the powers that be may think. But, he can kick back and play in a manner utterly suited to the song. Just check his guest slot with BB King at the Royal Albert Hall on ‘The Thrill is Gone’ or anything he did with ‘Slash’s Blues Ball’. Born in Hampstead, raised in L.A., Saul Hudson is a transatlantic powerhouse who just seems to keep getting better
I’ve said before that Mark Knopfler is the most tasteful guitarist on the planet. And for me, he is. Whatever notes and flourishes he puts on a track always seem to be perfect. What he doesn’t play is as important as what he does play. The spaces are just as important as the notes. Knopfler is also one of the few lead players happy to solo without a distorted, overdriven tone. He does play with overdrive, but when all was punk and in your face, along came this little four piece beat group playing old school rock and roll that you could listen to without feeling like you’re constantly being punched in the face by an angry youth with a safety clip in his ear wearing a t-shirt that looks more like Swiss cheese than an item of clothing. I have seen Mark Knopfler in concert something like five times. I will see him perform again in Newcastle in May and I think that is a real compliment to an artist and their work if you want to go and pay to see them play live again and again. As a songwriter and guitar player, Mark Knopfler is very, very hard to beat.
The King of Rhythm. Keef can hold down a groove like no one else. Capable of taking a lead part and excelling but happiest riffing away and propelling the song along. The perfect foil to one of the most iconic front men and simply one of the coolest people on the planet. When you are in part the inspiration for Jack Sparrow, you have some mojo about you. And it’s all well and good being a flashy lead player but Keith has often spoken of the ‘ancient art of weaving’ sharing lead and rhythm duties between the two guitarists often swapping between the two in the same bar of music. And I can’t really think of another band that has done that. Most either only have guitarist in the band or they have a designated rhythm player and a designated lead player. Every guitarist should study Keith Richards’ style because there is definitely something to be learned.
Eric Clapton: When someone proclaims you to be God, you must be good at what you do (even if it is graffiti-ted on a Tube station wall).
David Gilmour: Shows you don’t need to play fast to excel. Comfortably Numb is a perfect example of how to leave spaces in the music and set a mood through music.
Ritchie Blackmore: This man can play the guitar in every style. Blues, rock, Renaissance, proto-power metal. All without even cracking a smile. And probably thinking about how he’d like to smash Ian Gillan’s face in.