Welcome once more to my on-again off-again blog. Despite my best intentions to post more regularly, sometimes, sadly, life gets in the way. This post follows on from my post on Fifties Guitar Masters as we move on to the next decade.
The 1960s was a decade of unprecedented development in terms of recorded popular music and an era of constant change. Naturally this was a fertile breeding ground that created a whole new generation of innovative guitarists.
Kicking off the 60s it would be hard to go past the legendary Hank Marvin. With The Shadows he virtually defined the sound of the guitar in the early part of the decade and was an inspiration to many who came after him.
Choice Pick: check out the international chart-topper “Apache” released in July 1960
You couldn’t have a list of guitarists from the 1960s without including Jimi. Renowned for being so extraordinarily gifted that the guitar was considered an extension of his body, his recordings are as exemplary as they are limited. For a career so brief he certainly shone brightly.
Choice Pick: Hard to go past his cover version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” originally released in September 1968. Even Mr Zimmerman considered it the definitive version of his tune.
The first of three incredible guitarists to have a stint in The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton’s career has been like no other. The amount of different genres he’s covered during his career combined with his longevity can only lead one to conclude that he is peerless. Just list the bands he’s been in and any one of them would look good on a guitarist’s c.v. The Yardbirds, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Cream, Derek and the Dominos and his solo stuff too!
Choice Pick: For me his finest hour was the Derek and the Dominos period, but his solo on Cream’s live version of “Crossroads”, from 1968’s Wheels Of Fire, is one of the finest ever.
The second Yardbirds guitarist to feature in this list and one who has a very unique playing style. From his faux-slide playing using only his hands and a whammy bar, to doing away with a pick sometime during the 1980s, he has certainly developed his own “signature sound” on more than one occasion.
Choice Pick: “Beck’s Bolero”, the B-side to his 1967 single “Hi Ho Silver Lining”, displays his talents exceptionally well. The recording featured the Who’s Keith Moon on drums and future Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.It was during the sessions for the tracks that would form Beck’s first solo album, Truth, that Page first heard the term “lead zeppelin”.
Which brings us to Jimmy Page, the third of the guitarists from The Yardbirds to feature in this post. Page formed Led Zeppelin from the debris of The Yardbirds, even to the point of going out on their first tour as The New Yardbirds, to meet some outstanding contractual obligations.
Choice Pick: Hard to go past the blistering “Whole Lotta Love” from Led Zeppelin II, released in 1969.
Clapton’s replacement in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers came with a unique sound and style all his own. He also founded Fleetwood Mac by convincing first Mick Fleetwood, then John McVie, to join him. Sadly, his drug use caused many years of decline during the 70s and 80s, before returning in the 90s better, yet not quite what he was in his youth.
Choice Pick: His work on the John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers track, “The Super-Natural”, released on A Hard Road in 1968, is nothing short of spine-tingling.
Q: Has their ever been a guitarist like Frank Zappa?
A: Yes, his name is Dweezil.
Choice Pick: Hard to go past the 1969 Mothers Of Invention single “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama”.
Keith earns the nickname Keef Riffhard for a reason. His riffs are second to none. He’s been known to wake in the middle of the night, strum a riff into a tape recorder by the side of his bed, then roll over and go back to sleep. He then listens the next day to decide if the riff is a keeper or not. Its where the riff for “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” came from and many more.
Choice Pick: “Sympathy For The Devil” from 1968’s Beggars Banquet, the beginning of a four-album golden period, in my humble opinion.
Carlos built a reputation for himself after his blistering performance with Santana at Woodstock in 1969. The unheard-of band were included as a favour to promoter Bill Graham, who insisted after being called in to help with logistics and planning for the event.
Choice Pick: “Soul Sacrifice” from debut album, Santana, released in 1969, is an excellent example of his work, although the studio version doesn’t capture the wild majesty of the Woodstock performance.
Albert King was blessed with two things. Precocious talent and the Stax house band, Booker T & the MGs. Recording together on his second studio album, his first for Stax, saw the creation of one of the definitive blues albums of the decade.
Choice Pick: “Born Under A Bad Sign”, the title track from the aforesaid album, released in 1967.