In chronological order...
Johnny Cash. For me, it all starts here - thereís a good chance I wouldnít be a guitarist if not for him. Special nod to Luther Perkins - Iíve long said that Iím not chasing any one tone, but Lutherís tone is one that Iíve always wanted to get. Not to be my one and only, but just to be able to do it.
Ace Frehley. My entry into hard rock. Say what you will about the merch and stuff, but I was a big Kiss fan from about 1978 until Gene and Paul finally wore me down trashing their past. I saw his solo tour about a year and a half ago, and he was playing Kiss songs that Kiss wonít play, including a couple they added after he and Peter left - and quickly dropped.
Randy Rhoads. Yeah, I know - Eddie Van Halen. But Eddie struck me as one of those guys you just couldnít emulate. When Randy came along, I realized you could take some of Eddieís stuff and use it differently. Probably the guy I tried hardest to emulate. I mean, I worked on a lot of Aceís stuff, but I really wanted to be able to play like Randy.
Frank Zappa. Wow - what an eye-opener. When Frankís stuff finally kicked in for me, it opened up a whole new world. Very much overlooked as a guitarist because of the humor he brought. Among others, he led me to Steve Vai and...
Mike Keneally. Possibly the best musician Iíve ever met in my life. One of those guys you watch and think is there anything he canít do? First exposed to him in Zappaís 1988 band, lost touch with his stuff in the mid-90s, and have been solidly back in touch since about 2000. Zappa to Vai to solo to Dethklok - and plays keyboards for Satriani and occasionally Chickenfoot. Iíve seen and heard him do things that just make me shake my head. The only celebrity-owned guitar I ever bought - a Hamer Duo-Tone that I finally found video of him using (not in this clip).
To be continued...
Pete Townshend. Another guy I came around to late. My buddy was a big Who fan while I was casual at best. We played a lot of Who stuff when we had a band, and I never realized how much of Peteís stuff I was stealing - or trying to, anyway. One of the greatest rhythm players ever. I got a lot of the more percussive stuff I do from him.
Michael Hedges. One of those transcendent players that has to be seen in person to be believed. At one of the shows I saw, a guy sitting with us said, ďThat must have been what it was like to see Hendrix.Ē For all the technical fireworks, the key is that the music is there. I tend to think of Hedges more as a musician than a guitarist. Iíve read some of the Stropes stuff about his work, and there is so much going on in there that Iíve only barely scratched the surface of. And other than Johnny Cash, Hedges was the best Iíve ever seen at taking a cover song and making it his own.
Stevie Ray Vaughan. My big entry into the blues. Not my introduction - Iíd heard it before, but SRV was the guy who dragged me in deeper and finally led me to guys like Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and a host of others. To this day, I regret leaving during his set on the tour he did with Jeff Beck because a) I wasnít feeling up to par; and b) Iíd already seen him a couple times and Iíd just catch it the next time. Except there was no next time for me.
Ted Nugent. Another guy I was way late to, but got into in a big way. Leaving politics aside, the man can just play. And he can still bring it today. I wish I could get the boogie he has.
John 5. Another one of those guys who just makes my jaw drop. He does things I look at and think ďthatís just not possibleĒ. Yet another guy to aspire to.
And one more...
Alex Lifeson. Rush was another band I came to late. My buddy talked me into going to see them, and I didn’t realize how much of their stuff I knew. I never really wanted to play a ton of Rush stuff until the last couple years, but there’s a bunch I’d like to be able to do now. I’ve long aspired to be able to play “Spirit Of The Radio”, and thanks to his lesson on Garage Band, I can now play a sucky version of it. Alex just seems to know exactly what each song need. and he’s the guy I think of when I try to find a chorus sound.
I was going to do a list of honorable mentions, but there’s a limited amount of bandwidth. Should have stuck to the 5 concept, too!
Townshend is a great guitarist IMHO.
Jeff Beck In 1965 I was 6 years old. Thanks to my uncle (baseball writer Peter Gammons), who lived with us off and on then, I had access to a GREAT record collection. Jeff's sides with the Yardbirds got me all fired up to play electric guitar. 47 years later, Jeff's stuff STILL gets me all fired up.
Steve Howe In 1972 I hit high school. (ever see the film Dead Poets Society? that's where I went) At that point, every guitar player I knew wanted to sound like Eric Clapton. Steve Howe opened up a whole 'nother world of guitar playing to me. Made me want an ES-175D in the worst way, and got me thinking about a much bigger picture than just playing blues licks. Eventually I had to work pretty hard at getting the Howe-isms OUT of my playing, which is something some of us go through on the way to being ourselves. But I've retained some core ideas about playing guitar, most especially the idea of using many different guitars and guitar-like instruments to enliven my music. And how cool does that old hollowbody Gibson sound through a big Fender amp set pretty loud?!?
Randy Roos In 1980 my younger brother (www.jondurant.com) started studying with Randy Roos. That whole generation of players who came through Boston/Berklee in the '70s (Scofield, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, etc, etc) are still kinda "home base" to me. Of all of them, Randy had the most direct influence on me and is still my favorite as a guitar player. Hasn't ever been an above-the-radar player, except in my house and a few others.
Bill Frisell Also from that "Boston jazz" scene. A beautifully original voice on guitar. Less overtly virtuosic than many of the others, yet his musicianship runs incredibly deep. It makes me feel like there is some justice and fairness in this world when I see the stature that Bill has earned for himself in the art music world.
Steve Kimock In 2006 I met Kimock at the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. We found we had a lot to talk about in terms of guitars, amps, and music in general. Sort of a "twin sons of different mothers" thing although the two of us have followed very different paths in our outward lives. Kimock has been a great help to me in terms of getting my gear and my sound sorted out (as well as giving me some ideas about how to approach the whole steel/slide/fretless universe); he's been a musical inspiration as well. Having sat in his barn playing guitar with him on a few different occasions, I will also say that he is one of the overall best, and most musical, guitar players I've ever met.
Cool! I was going to add some JB...
Originally Posted by kingsleyd
I was late to the party with Jeff. Admired his playing on one of Roger Waters' solo albums but never took the time to explore his work. Until I heard / saw this:
Just... Brilliant! :)
John Petrucci (only mentioned once in this thread, what's wrong with him?)
I'll keep the rest to myself, I'm already tired mentioning my idols all the time ;)
I have to go with Jason Becker #1 , inspirational as both a musician and a human being.
After that, the list is just enormous, mostly duplications of everyone else..
Admittedly underappreciated by me. I love his "Guitar Shop" album, though, and to see him play this live is astounding. Video is one thing, but in the same room?
Originally Posted by kingsleyd
Tom Morello - brought doing crazy things with a guitar into the "mainstream"
Al D - I only got into him lately which is a regret. His use of rhythm is freaking awesome, and he's just an all round amazing player
Not as furious as early examples, but he's playing a PRS so it got extra points!
Matt Bellamy - ok same boat as Tom Morello, also brilliant at getting creative with a guitar. A Kaoss pad in a guitar? Why not!
Jeff Buckley - probably wondering why he is in here, but he was actually a really good player. His ability to sing and play at the same time is just mind boggling (to me!)
Honourable mention to Tommy Emmanuel, well he's Australian and a bloody good player.