Is it just me or is there some grand design afoot, taking away the cream of rock and roll guitar just when these guys were in there prime. OK, I’ll admit that Robert Johnson wasn’t strictly speaking a rock man, but I bet he would have been! In fact, there might not have been ‘rock’ without RJ, although that’s a bit of a stretch, given that there were many similar guys who had a massive impact on modern day artists.
The point is , right from those early days of boogie, the Gods of Rock have been leaving us too early – God only knows (great song, by the way) how Keith Richards is still among us! For those of us too young to have seen SRV in his prime, it must have been a real experience.
The guy didn’t have it try and play great blues, it just oozed out of his skin without even trying. You don’t see that kind of genius at work every day and as we all know, genius comes from mostly hard work and a mysterious proportion of something else – if I could find it and bottle it, I’d be made for life.
There’s a great video of Stevie playing on stage with Eric Clapton, and EC glances over at while playing almost shaking his head in disbelief. He knew that he wasn’t even trying and picking up a storm with incredible jammed variations on a slow Chicago Blues.
The bass player from the Animals (60s rock group) tells a great story about Clapton playing in London and Hendrix was in the audience. He came on stage and asked if he could jam! During a gig! EC wasn’t afraid of no electric guitar player and so he agreed. Boy, did he regret it. After 5 minutes he just stopped playing to watch with his mouth open while Jimi went to town playing incredible fluently.
Eventually, Eric left the stage and was found in the dressing room in a daze, mumbling something about how it was possible for someone to be that good. Truth is that Hendrix was not just a guitarist but a force of nature! I digress, but the point is that it just so happens that many, many of the absolute best checked out early. Here’s a list:
- Jimi Hendrix
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Greg Allman
- Jeff Buckley
- Nick Drake
- Gram Parsons
- Randy Rhoads
- Kurt Cobain
- Dimebag Darell
- Rory Gallagher
Some of you youngster won’t even recognize some of the names, but you need to check ’em out – they laid the foundation of so much of the raunchy metal and heavy rock we hear around us every day. Yes, whether by accident (auto, plane, drink or drugs!) or suicidal intent, their music seems to have a bigger impact now that they’re gone. Sad isn’t it?
Does anyone remember Marc Bolan? Marc was a British contemporary, and rival, of David Bowie. After going through the acoustic and glam rock eras, he ended up fronting his own band and writing songs that you could never quite forget, like ‘Ride A White Swan’. Him and his girl friend wrapped their car around a tree and he almost rose to legend status because of it. He was never a mega star, but you might know his music from films such as Billy Elliot’ when the kid danced to ‘I like To Boogie’ written by Bolan? Incidentally, he took his last name from Bob Dylan, an early hero.
“What About The Ladies?” I hear You Ask …
Here’s a list of still living lady guitarists I lifted from theTopTens.com website:
- Nancy Wilson
- Jennifer Batte
- Malina Moye
- Lita Ford
- Bonnie Rait
- Susan Tedeschi
- Ana Popovic
- Joan Jett
- Jan Kuehnemund
I suppose the biggest point to make here is that I had to go to another website to find the list, because I couldn’t come up with 10 great top lady rock guitarists. Why is it that it’s the guys that mostly turn on our drooling rock guitar adoration? It’s just like that – I cant imagine a female Angus from AC/DC girl band strutting across stage with just a pair of shorts on! Of course, the girls are probably more known for their voices. Janis Joplin rocked this planet for just a decade or so before destroying herself with drugs and drink. RIP all of you – rock on!