So I did a blog on my Top 5 drummers (http://longhairedboy.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-favourite-drummers.html) and I got to thinking about who would be my favorite rock guitarists. I was not sure what angle to take - do I go with only modern rock artists (as within the last 25 years or so) or should I just go with throughout the rock era.
The former is more familiar territory but the latter could really bright to light the music legends. With that said I have decided to do two Top 10 lists - one being that which was really influential for me and the other being the more vintage (or really classic) rock guitarists.
I will do two posts - the first tackles the Top 10 of the Modern Rock era and the second would look at more of the classic rock guitarists.
It's a tough list but here goes:
Top 10 Guitarists of the Modern Rock Era:
These guys and gals are the modern rock heroes and have taken probably what has been done and added their own twist to it. They probably span over the last 25-30 years or so. I was looking at innovation and artists who (in my opinion) have been both influential and also artistic:
10. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
If ever you take a listen to "O.K. Computer" and "Kid A" and then see this band live you'd probably understand. Radiohead (like their fellow British predecessors - The Who) have wildly experimented with electronics which provide a background to the haunting and beautiful voice of Thom Yorke. The use of these electronics is part simulation and also part haunting/dark strumming of Jonny.
This band live - forget electroncis - Jonny plays a hard rock show which showcases his amazing talent to add a harder rock edge to the band live.
9. John Mayer
John Mayer is probably one of the newer or younger ones here. I have heard him play of course his pop/rock gems, and have also heard him play some tracks by Radiohead and was really amazed by how talented he is.
I think on record his talent is not shown to its true potential, but if you see him play any live concert you will see his true awesomeness (and sexiness).
I also voted John as one of the sexiest men in rock today (see link - http://longhairedboy.blogspot.com/2009/10/sexiest-men-in-rock-according-to-stevea.html
8. James Iha (The Smashing Pumpkins)
There is something about James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins that really peaked my interests in him. First of all, the look of the Smashing Pumkins when they launched circa 1990 with "Gish" seemed to be four odd balls that did not fit together. But then there music is something different - it's in sync and over the 90's they had become one of the most influential modern hard rock bands around.
James is Japanese and at looking at him he seems fragile as if the wind could blow him away!
But then you hear this guy play that dark, deep and clear riff that is characteristic of the Pumpkins and you can't help but get blown away.
Best summary of James style - you know a hurricane is coming and he builds the intensity with patience and them......BOOM!
7. John Squire (The Stone Roses)
The 90's brought us "alternative rock" which lead to a number of left of center radio stations such as WDRE 92.7 (NYC) becoming really popular amongst the "yuppie" generation - this was the sound of Generation X.
The traditional rock songs and classics gave way to a new breed of lighter, simplier and moody guitarists. In my opinion, John Squire of the Stone Roses epitamised this - a stripped down, blusy approach to rock.
The Band's debut album (in 1989/1990) illustrates the simplicity and effectiveness of John's guitar stylings - if you can also take a listen to "I Wanna Be Adored" and also that catchy and dandy jam session on "I Am the Resurrection".
Also, on "Shoot You Down" I can spot a sweet melody that leaves you humming a great pop tune.
I also wrote a blog on the Stone Roses - see link:- http://longhairedboy.blogspot.com/2009/08/stone-roses-1st-album.html
6. Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
Ahhhh - the Smiths - this band was in a league of their own. I don't think that Morrissey would have been so effective without the stylings of Johnny Marr.
This band had put out some classic singles in the 80's and we can not really remember the 80's without talking about this band and their impact and influence on modern rock artists.
I remember in Queer As Folk they played "How Soon is Now" in "Babylon" and hottie Bryan getting his groove on.....but I digress....
How can I sum up Johnny - Melodic and dark - he has a tune of it's own, which is both individualistic and at the same co-exists with the melodic stylings of Morrissey.
5. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
John was only 18 when he joined the Chilli Peppers on "Mother's Milk" - this guy provided a different edge and dimension to their already funky rock sound. John at just 18 was amazing on the guitar - he had his own style. Don't forget the classic alternative/rock/funk album "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" which shows the wide array of John's musical artistry as a guitarist.
Styling - best summed up as - strip down and modern funk n' roll. This guy complements no one - he is pure talent.
4. Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
When I heard this band for the 1st time, I described them as "The MOZART OF METAL" Kirk's stylings was unlike any other hard rock artist at the time, or even for a long time. There was a metal movement on in the early 80's with bands like Accept; Iron Maiden; Celtic Frost to name a few - alot of these bands played speed metal, but the sound emanating from Kirk's guitar was fast and rythmic and seemed to provide a symphony of metal.
The sound of Kirk sealed the sound of Metallica and provided the band with their unique sound.
See link - I previously blogged on Metallica - http://longhairedboy.blogspot.com/2009/08/dentist-yikes.html
3. Slash (Guns N' Roses)
This guy needs no intro - as the lead guitarist of GNR he gave the band and rock music some of the most memorable riffs and bridges. Just listening to the entire of "Appetite for Destruction" (one of the biggest selling albums in history) you can tell that this guy gave everything he had, and that he worked his ass off to make one of the best rock albums of all time.
I heard one critic say that GNR were one of the most relevant bands to come out of the 80's - I have to agree with this.
How do I sum up Slash's style - classic rock in the 80's baby - but to even say that would be an understatement as everyone wanting to learn and play guitar has to learn "Sweet Child Of Mine" - it's one of those riffs which would span time and generations.
And even if you can't play guitar - everyone can play air guitar.
2. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)
I saw Tom played recently in North Carolina with his new band and I never got to see Rage Against the Machine play (I missed them in NY a few years ago and I was pissed at that).....
Rage meshed two genres - hard rock/metal and rap to become one of the most memorable acts in modern rock. There debut album was a classic with tracks like "Killing in the Name Of" and "Wake Up" (which was the ending track on "The Matrix").
Tom made absolutely no apologies for his style - he gave rock music what it was looking for at the time - a guitar revolutionist. Tom can make his guitar sound like "scratching a turntable" and to understand Tom's style you would probably have to understand Rage's music.
Rage was political...they sang about everything from crooked politicians to farmers to the disadvantaged - they had a "fuck the system" attitude and this was reflected in vocal stylings of Zack DeLaRocha and the hard edged guitar stylings of Tom Morello.
How do I sum up Tom - I can't - I just love to hear him play and I am at a loss for words here!
1. The Edge (U2)
OK - don't shoot me - like I said this was a list based on "my opinion" (heheheheh).
The Edge - I can only say that his styling is more simplistic and minimalist than any of the other mentioned guitarists here! But when I listened to the Edge on early U2 albums all I know is that I had never heard any other guitarists play like that before - with the Edge there was no classic rock bridge in the middle of the song - there was this one single sounding loop that seemed to build in intensity but never really pushing it over the "edge" (for want of a better term).
I think the Edge's style was a blue print for modern alternative bands and this is really the reason why I have him at Number 1. This man could make his Stratacaster play that minimal looping riff and seemed to complement the voice of Bono.
I just saw U2 in Tampa live and my thoughts at the end was that The Edge really carried the show - I mean the riffs are simple and clever and really added atmosphere and dimension to the band.
Well peeps - thanks for reading and next Chapter on the classic rock guitarists at some time in the future.