heroes and inspiration

KK. DOWNING

The first time I ever witnessed KK Downing play was Thursday May 24th 1979 at Newcastle City Hall.

I can honestly say without reservation that this was the night that changed my life and set me firmly on my chosen path. Not only a great player but also the epitome of my vision of a Heavy Metal guitarist and as such became a role model for me and an unknowing and distant mentor.

You can judge by the tone of this short piece that he was and still is a huge influence on me.

For me his solo, particularly live, in ‘Victim Of Changes’ is nothing short of magical, an absolute master class in Heavy Metal guitar.

He was and always will be the first person that I make reference to when I am asked about my heroes and influences.

And if by any remote chance that I have the good fortune for him to read this then . . Mr KK Downing, I thank you sir, from the bottom of my heart.

MAXIMUM RESPECT!

 

GARY MOORE

Where do I start . .  I own and I love EVERYTHING this incredible guitarist has ever done.

My first memory of seeing Gary Moore play was on a TV show in the 70’s called Sight and Sound in Concert, Rock Goes To College.

His band at that time was Colloseum II, a fusion styled outfit which later influenced 3 instrumental tracks that appeared on my first solo album ‘Winds Of Change’ . . of course, these 3 tracks came nowhere near to the fearsome technical prowess of Mr Moore but they were an influence none the less.

I had the privilege of seeing Gary Moore live many times and was never disappointed . . how could you be?

His solos are memorable and that is what I love and aspire to, you don’t just hear the notes with this man, you feel them and they move you. He can melt your face with some incredible run then send shivers through you with something so melodic it touches your very soul . . YES . . I like this guitarist . . A LOT!

He is a tragic loss to the world of guitar but will never be forgotten as he has left us with so many wonderful pieces of music that will undoubtedly live on forever.

Gary Moore, a true legend of guitar.

 

 

ACE FREHLEY

‘Ace on lead guitar!’

Whilst not the most technical in this list I honestly think his solos were perfect for early KISS, my favourite era.

There is just something about Ace as a player and a showman that just draws you to him.

I love that loose bluesy/rock ‘n’ roll feel he has to his playing . . and of course . . HE FIRES ROCKETS OFF A LES PAUL!! . . c’mon, what more do you want?

As a lifelong KISS fan he was and always will be an integral part of the band.

Oh and by the way, he is one of the few guitarists I have seen play with his right hand, picking hand, closed . . there are probably many more so before you bombard us with examples . . it was just an observation.

I think he is an excellent example of using what you have and what you know to maximum efficiency and in my books that makes him a great guitarist . . you don’t need a million sweeping arpeggios to be a great player and write great songs . .  

. . its cold gin time again . . 

 

frank marino

‘Dragonfly”, ‘The Answer’ and the outstanding ’Electric Reflections Of War’, the list goes on and on.

In my humble opinion, electric Hard Rock Blues at its very best . . ‘Ladies and Gentlemen . . Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush!’.

Some may say a Hendrix clone . . heavily influenced, yes . . clone, no way!

There is so much more to Frank Marino as can be testified to by really exploring the music of this phenomenal guitarist.

My first vinyl purchase by him was ‘Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush Live’ and by the end of the first track, ‘The Answer’, I was hooked, a confirmed and fully fledged fan!

I have never had the honour of seeing him live but I have watched countless live videos and he never ceases to amaze me . . love that early tone!

Those electric blues runs and licks, often tinged with jazz . . at least to my untrained ears . . do it for me every time.

Great tone, great feeling, great technician . . GREAT GUITARIST!

ZAKK WYLDE

‘A fucking Marshall, a fucking Les Paul and the pentatonic scale . . you’re good to go!!’

Wise words indeed from someone you wouldn’t necessarily disagree with!

I just love this guy’s style of playing and he is fucking damn good at it!

Do what you do and do it to the absolute best of your ability . . and beyond in Zakk Wylde’s case.

The aggression, the picking style, the vibrato and those pinch harmonics . . fuck yeah! METAL!!

An absolute monster of Metal guitar but also with a decidedly melodic side to his playing as well. Steeped in pentatonic blues and a hint of country with the angry button on ten this guys playing definitely has the ability to easily tear you a new one!

In the later years of my playing I would definitely say that Zakk has been a huge influence, not that I could ever claim to reach the dizzy heights of his remarkable ability and technique . . but one tries . . haha!

Zakk Wylde . . . nuff said . .

‘INCOMING!!!’

eddy van halen

I remember buying the first Van Halen album as soon as it hit the UK and all on the strength of the reports of them on the Black Sabbath tour which unfortunately, I had missed seeing.

Upon purchasing that now sacred piece of vinyl I headed over to my cousins’ house who had a Bang and Olfsen system. As soon as the needle hit the vinyl and THAT guitar sound ripped into Running With The Devil it was obvious that this was something incredibly special . . THEN . . Eruption!! . . Holy shit , what was this guy doing!!

All this came at the time when I was really just begin to get serious about guitar and the thought did go through my head that if this was as good as you had to be then I didn’t stand a cat in Hells chance, haha!!

I consider myself to be very fortunate and privileged to then see them in 1979 on their headlining tour at Newcastle City Hall, absolutely mind blowing!

Now we all know that the tapping thing had been done before but it was definitely Eddy who brought it to the forefront and honed it to perfection and was most certainly the reason it appeared in a number of Venom songs, albeit very basic compared to the complexities that Eddy was delivering with astonishing ease and precision.

A true master of the instrument and a sad loss to the world of guitar and music in general.

FAST EDDIE CLARKE

ROCK N F***ING ROLL!!!

Another massive influence in regards to that loose, clanging heavy rhythm and those sleazy blues licks.

Attitude, aggression and feeling are the order of the day here . . no sweeping arpeggios or squeaky clean million miles per hour precision just bucket loads of in your face have some of that . . 

The album OVERKILL was massive for me and in the early days of Venom we played NO CLASS . . great song!

stevie ray vaughan

The Texas Blues Man

A guitarist I have always been away of but never really explored in depth until later in my guitar journey . . . what had I been missing!

Blues, Blues Rock and so much more and easily one of the most iconic and influential musicians in the history of blues music and blues/blues rock guitar.

His influence on my guitar playing with regards to my solo projects extends to his subtle use of the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, often two of them, to get that classic ‘just on breakup’ sound.

Great player, great songwriter and . . love that Number One Stratocaster!

DAVE HILL

Dave 'Super Yob' Hill . . . 

SLADE were definitely my very first 'favourite' band as a kid growing up in the early 1970's.

Loud. rowdy, guitar driven rock n roll with more than a touch of showmanship and glam!

I can honestly say that the very first 'guitar solo' I heard or was aware of was in the song 'Look Wot You Dun' , a simple repetitive melody but to my young ears a guitar solo non the less and it stuck with me.

Dave Hill was also the first guitarist I ever saw with a Burns Flyte Guitar which was the object of my desires back then.

I suppose SLADE were my first introduction to something reasonably heavy and guitar dominant.

Stomping good rock music . . . 

Cum On Feel The Noize!

marc bolan

The very first vinyl album I ever bought with my own allowance money was T Rex, Ride A White Swan, I reckon I must have been around 11 years old and I still have it today . . great album.

So many amazing songs and as a guitarist songwriter that is why he is in this list.

I still vividly remember being at school on lunch break in 1972 when ‘Metal Guru’ was announced as that weeks number one . . . appropriate song me thinks.

Marc Bolan was also the first guitarist I remember seeing with a Les Paul and a Flying V, although at that time I had no idea what they were called, and he wore them well.

Another talented soul taken far too early and it does honestly make me wonder where his music would have went.

A true original and innovator.