A week ago today an old friend of mine who I had played guitar with when I was 16 took his own life. I think some of the things that kept running through my head besides the music we played, was the music that he had me listen to. I was grateful for the music I might not have really listened to very carefully if it had not been for him turning me onto some great guitar Gods of our past and it got me thinking…
My friend Tony really turned me onto to musicians that I was not too familiar with but who were geniuses. Take Ten Years After. I fell in love with Alvin Lee, who passed away in March of 2013 due to complications of a surgery, however I will never forget how he played a guitar. This British blues rock band had it going. The sounds of acoustic guitar wailing with a great lead took my breath away as a teenager. The band started in the late 60s and had great songs like I’d Love to Change the World and Hard Monkeys, I always felt Alvin Lee made that band. He was like one of the kings of guitar right up there with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, or Jeff Beck, which was another guitar God my friend turned me onto.
Jeff Beck, who was one of the original members of the Yardbirds and was what my friend said, one of the greatest guitar players ever. He certainly did change the sounds of music with his extreme distorted guitar. Somewhere I read that he pretty much invented how electric guitar could be used. I am unsure if that is true as I am a real Clapton head, but when I listen to Beck, goose bumps fill my body. The Rolling Stone’s ranked him the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Times.” Beck changes the way guitar was played.
Tony also turned me on to artist Tommy Bolin. I had never heard of Tommy, however I knew the bands he played in like The James Gang and Deep Purple. Who could ever forget Deep Purple? I never paid much attention to him when he played in these bands but paid close attention to Bolin as a solo artist and I quickly began to collect his albums. I think the song “Post Toastee” was one of my favorites by Bolin and the song in itself was a masterpiece. Just as I really started to get into him, Bolin died from an overdose of heroin and all I had left was albums.
Finally the other guitar player my friend turned me onto was Duane Allman from The Allman Brothers Band. I was not a big Southern Rocker at all however; my friend really taught me how to listen to his guitar. Allman introduced me to slide guitar and what it sounded like, he also showed me what playing guitar with heart meant, which is why the music world suffered when at the age of 24, Duane died. It seemed like no other person could take his place, and though I am still not a huge country rocker, I thank my friend for introducing me to Duane.
Come to think of it, I probably would have not listened to any of these all time great guitarist had it not been for my friend who just died. This past week, I have listened some of these great guitar Gods of our past and have fondly said goodbye not only to my friend Tony, but goodbye to some great guitarist.