You can’t develop a style without studying someone who came before, says Gibson’s 10 Guitar Greats and Their Influences. Truth.
Surprising revelations, though. OK, so Zakk Wylde digs Randy Rhoads, and Joe Bonanassa adores Paul Kossoff, and – duh – Derek Trucks was influenced by Duane Allman. And Clapton and Beck get mentioned more than once.
But Slash was influenced by Cat Stevens and Cheap Trick? Trucks was into Coltrane? Townshend thinks he sounds like John Lee Hooker? Frampton practiced Shadows tunes? Holy b string.
What surprises me, though, is that not many of these guys seem to go back very far. Most of the influences were immediate, the stuff heard when they were growing up. One reference each to Scotty Moore, Chet Atkins and Jimmy Burton. Only Hooker and Elmore James mentioned from the 50’s Blues greats.
No T-Bone Walker, no Freddie King? no BB? no Lightning Hopkins, Son House or Robert Johnson? No Chuck Berry? Are you kidding?
Frampton mentions Django Reinhardt, but no one seems to be digging into the past to learn where their heroes learned their stuff. That is indeed curious. I mean, how do you study your idol and try to understand what they’re doing without studying what they were trying to understand?
It’s a short article so maybe lots got edited out. I hope so, ‘cause it feels like we’re loosing our connections with the past, and that would not be a good thing. Music has changed rapidly over the last half century, and most of it has been exciting and positive. But it was also built on a solid foundation that goes back countless generations.
If we lose that the thrill will be gone.