I like about a zillion guitar players for different reasons. A player doesn’t have to be technically proficiant to impress me, just have style. Here are 6 that I think don’t get the credit they deserve. Each of these guys were a huge influence on me, (I’m a guitar player) but are not necessarily my favorites. Take your time to watch the vids, some are kind of long, but worth it. Especially the Eric Johnson vid. Enjoy!
1) Jeff Beck
Beck was in the Yardbirds with Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton (not at the same time). While those 2 went on to fame and fortune, Beck chose to do what he damn well felt like, namely doing instumental jazz rock fusion. He also did a few albums with keyboardist Jan Hammer, most famous for doing the soundtrack for “Miami Vice.”
Becks’ style is explosive. He pulls sounds out of a guitar that are other-worldly. While the world was kissing Claptons’ ass for being a blues-rock hack, Beck was quietly innovating his own totally unique style. Fun Fact: Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap was clearly based on Beck.
Recomended listening: “There And Back” with Jan Hammer, “Wired” “Blow by Blow”
Holdsworth is virtually unkown to anyone but really serious guitar players. He’s known mostly for being a sideman to people like Jean-Luc Ponty and Bill Bruford, and as a member of prog-rock “supergroup” UK, which also included bassist John Wetton, later of Asia, and the formerly mentioned,Yes drummer Bill Bruford. If you like prog-rock, you may know him. His style is a fluid legato, and his tone sounds like a saxaphone. In fact, his biggest influence is Charlie Parker, and you can hear it in his playing. His solo in the song “In the dead of night” by UK, is in my opinion, one of the greatest guitar solos ever. He was also a huge influence on Eddie Van Halen. The You Tube clip here contains just a piece of the solo I mentioned, but you get a little taste of his style. His solo albums are pretty hard to listen to, but when limited by a group, or as a sideman, he really shined.
Recommended listening: Bill Bruford “One Of A Kind” UK, “UK”.
Neil is Pat Benatar’s guitar player/husband. You’ve no doubt heard his playing. A great rythym player, writer, and soloist, most people just aren’t aware of how good he is. This clip, “Hell is for children” is a nice example of his tasty rythym playing, and soloing.
Note: Neil is the guy without the afro.
Brian May of Queen
Brian is also well known, but like Neil Geraldo, most normal people(ie, not musicians) don’t know how great he is. His tone is amazing, you can tell it’s him immediatly. His layering of guitars is phenominal, his phrasing is lyrical, just an awesome unique player. I actually met him once. It was at an L.A. bar called the Cathouse, in the late 80’s. Everyone there was way too cool to aknowladge that Brian May from Queen was there, and he was standing by himself with his girlfriend or wife, and looking kind of lonely. So I went up and said hello. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy.
Luke is a member of Toto, but don’t hold that against him. He took the Larry Carlton jazz style, and added a rock edge. I’ve seen him jam at a small place, and he totally blew me away. Fun Fact: An in demand studio player, Lukather played on almost every hit song of the 80’s, including “Thriller” and almost every Lionel Ritchie song. Again, don’t hold that against him.
Eric is pretty unkown to the gen-pop, but is just a scary talent. I had the pleasure of seeing him up-close and personal several times in small bars, and I would say, in person, the best guitar player I’ve ever seen. His records don’t translate how good he is, you have to see him live. Fun Fact: Eric does not age, he may be an alien.