Here's the first segment of Rock Guitar Daily's Hall of Fame. The players who have left the greatest impressions on an impressionable mind. The guys I go to frequently and forever shall sing their praises. Some are larger than life, some you've probably never heard of. Over the next few columns I'm going to list my favorite records, guitars, unknown guitarists and such. It's a slow news period anyway, right?
Mick Ronson - Mick's solo on Moonage Daydream remains as incredible as any solo to ever grace a rock and roll record. With stunning speed, flash, and tone, it was and is the quintessential glam-rock guitar song. However, it was Ronson's melodicism that always grabbed me most. Not just a great guitarist, Ronno sang wonderfully, played great piano (Bowie's Lady Stardust), arranged strings as well as George Martin (Mott the Hoople's Sea Diver, Lou Reed's Perfect Day), and he wrote more than a few great songs. He personified the right hand man in rock, making better everything he touched with his egoless approach to teamwork. Many have never heard his solo album Play Don't Worry, but it perhaps is the best document that displays in full his huge range of talents. The platinum haired spider died too damned soon.
Bill Nelson - Nelson's work with Be Bop Deluxe influenced Randy Rhoads tremendously. He masterfully and seemingly without effort played dazzling guitar over everything he wrote, and what he wrote was brilliant (still is). Be Bop's Sunburst Finish resides at the top of my desert island top 10. After leaving the world of commercial rock behind, Nelson has continued to record inventive and endlessly interesting music for 35 years, practically inventing DIY. He was recording in his attic years before it became the way of the world. The world lost a lot when Nelson gave up big rock, but you gotta love a guy who sticks by his guns and follows his muse as opposed to chasing dollars. A few years ago, Bill teamed with American guitar maker Campbell Guitars and they produced the Campbell Nelson Transitone, maybe the coolest signature guitar ever made. He's been championed a bit over the last few years by Guitar Player's Michael Molenda, and that's a good thing. Eveeryone should get to hear Sunburst Finish.
Webb Wilder - Webb is the only basic rock rhythm player who's name I mention in the same breath as Keith's. And more than that, he's consistantly produced great records for 25 years and in the process worked with some of the best guitar players you've never heard, such as Donny "The Twangler" Roberts, George "The Tone Chaperone" Bradfute, and Tony Bowles. These fellows have been burning it up on Webb's records for years, and making his shows amazing displays of taste and virtuousity. Wilder himself is an excellent soloist, and he trades licks with these great players fearlessly. His last live CD, Born to be Wilder, has three guitarists tossing of great licks left and right as Wilder runs this guitar circus with wit, humor, piss and vinegar. With one foot in country and the other in rock and roll, Wilder by his own admission is loved by dozens.
Ritchie Blackmore - No one's favorite fellow, Ritchie is still one of the most unique and skilled guitarists I've ever seen or heard. Throughout his run with Deep Purple and Rainbow, Ritchie displayed a great combination of riffs and sophisticated soloing. His playing sounds like his own and no elses. It's almost impossible to hear anyone's influence on his playing with the possible exception of Django. Blackmore alone brought that type of gypsy improvisation to heavy rock. I wonder if he'll rock again....I almost hope not.
Uli Jon Roth - Best known for his incendiary performances with The Scorpions, Uli combined a love for Hendrix and classical music, and this combination became shred guitar. More than any single player, Roth brought mind bending technique to the world of hard rock. Early Scorpions tunes such as Catch Your Train, and Pictured Life woke me up to a post-Hendrixian world of guitar playing. Never had I heard such a combination of technique and over the top rock madness. His huge tone, incredible virtuousity, and melodic sensiblities still leave me breathless.
There you have it. No illusions that this is anything but MY favorites. Every person SHOULD have a different list, it makes everything more interesting, right?
Peace, love, and pretty guitars.