Archive for the ‘Mark Knopfler’ Category

It’s easy to say Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton are the greatest guitarists of all-time, but are they your favorite?  Here is my list of the four guitarists that have meant the most to me.

Tom Morello

When I first saw Rage Against the Machine in concert in 1995 at Manhattan’s Roseland Ballroom I knew immediately that I had seen a very special show.  15 years later the concert remains the best concert I have ever attended.  The biggest reason: Rage guitarist Tom Morello.

Having listened to the band’s debut album hundreds of times prior to the concert I was extremely familiar with Morello’s unorthodox sound.  But what I didn’t realize until I saw him live was the technical originality of Morello’s playing style.  Whether dipping into finger taps, his odd use of feedback to create record scratching sounds, or literally unplugging his guitar to play a solo (my personal “holy shit” moment) it was quickly obvious that Morello was the greatest guitar innovater of his generation.  However, it may not have been until Morello’s 2009 performance with Bruce Springsteen at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony that his greatness reached a more mainstream audience.  It was at that performance that Morello pulled out all his tricks, stealing a show that featured many of the biggest music legends of the past 50 years.

John Frusciante

Frusciante is the riff master supreme, the funk meister extraordinaire, a man who leaves his heart and soul on every ditty he throws down.  Known mainly for his work with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers Frusciante is responsible for some of the ‘90s most memorable licks including those from “Under the Bridge,” “Otherside,” “Californication,” “Snow,” “Around the World,” “Parallel Universe” and many others.  Rather than use a gimmick it is Frusciante’s impeccable ear for melody that makes him a true guitar god.  And for anyone doubting his genius check out his bizarre solo recordings.  The track “As Can Be” is a lo-fi masterpiece of the rawest nature.

Mark Knopfler

I have always surmised that if somehow I could wake up one morning and be a virtuoso guitar player that I would want to be Britain’s Mark Knopfler.  Working with Dire Straits, on solo albums, and as the score writer to several feature films (The Princess Bride his most famous) Knopfler’s signature sound is unmistakably his own.  Using a classical finger style picking technique Knopfler merges the majesty of the acoustic guitar with the power of the electric guitar.  The result is mindblowing: Knopfler’s sound is precise yet free, fast yet relaxed, and always makes the most of the sustain and pause between each note.

Some of Knopfler’s best and most recognized songs include “Sultans of Swing,” “Walk of Life,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “So Far Away,” “Tunnel of Love,” and “What It Is.”

Eddie Van Halen

When Eddie Van Halen arrived on the music scene in the late 1970s it was a startling revelation.  His band’s debut album, 1977’s Van Halen marked a point in music history where hard rock had a new signature sound.  Loud, fast, aggressive, and sporting an unprecedented lightning fast finger tapping technique Eddie slashed and burned through the rest of the guitar playing world.  No doubt the first time anyone hears “Eruption” they will be left breathless and scratching their heads as they wonder, “How the heck?”

In the 1980s Eddie added a synthesizer to his guitar playing repetoire and in the process ushered in a whole new angle on what it means to be a guitar virtuoso.  Indeed, he was the first to prove without a doubt that the lead guitar player could evolve in directions never thought possible.  The band’s 1984 album shows the second side to Eddie’s signature sound and his guest appearance on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is a touchstone ‘80s guitar moment.

The sound of some guitarists is enough to stick with you for a lifetime.  No doubt, my reminisces of these four gentlemen will remain with me forever.


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