30 on 30: The Greatest Guitarists Picked by the Greatest Guitarists
We ask 30 guitarists who they would pick as the greatest of all time.
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN by George Lynch
Every little microevolution of the guitar that came along in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties influenced me. The number of people I didn’t appreciate is probably a much smaller list.
Yngwie is one of those players that had a huge impact on me. His neoclassical style was just mind-blowing to me. I was raised as a blues player and learned my chops in the late Sixties, early Seventies, so it was all incredibly new to me. Just the ferocity of it was mesmerizing. The ease with which he does it was fascinating, too.
Ultimately, guitar-driven Eighties music had wound itself to the point of absurdity and inaccessibility. I mean, how many people can actually appreciate that kind of music? It’s just an elitist speed contest. But Yngwie created the trend. On a pure playing level, players that create music that touches people are always viable. And that’s why he’s still around and a lot of the other guys aren’t.
MICK TAYLOR by Slash
Mick Taylor had the biggest influence on me without me even knowing it. My favorite Stones records were Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. Those three were major to me because I was exposed to those records as a kid when they first came out. Mick Taylor played on a couple of those records and went on to play with the Stones for a couple more. As I got older and started playing guitar, I always gravitated to his style.
People always mention Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Angus Young…all the obvious ones. But there are guys like Mick Taylor and Joe Walsh that were as important. Mick Taylor had a really cool, round-toned bluesy sort of thing that I thought was really effective.
One of the greatest Mick Taylor solos is on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?” from Sticky Fingers. It’s the kind of stuff that’s almost like old Eric Clapton—it’s very simple stuff, but it’s about how the notes are placed and how you approach them. The new guard of guitarists always forgets about doing simplistic and very effective guitar playing that speaks to you. It’s not all about two-handed tapping.
RANDY RHOADS by Frank Hannon
I was always a big fan of Randy. In 1980, when Ozzy’s Blizzard of Ozz came out, some friends of mine went to see him perform in Oakland and came back raving, saying, “Man, we saw this guitarist today, and he was better than Eddie Van Halen!”
This was a few years before we started Tesla. I was already playing guitar and was a big fan of Eddie Van Halen. So we went down to the local record store and got the album, and I was infatuated from day one. Randy was doing everything that Van Halen did, and more. It was the classical knowledge that he was incorporating into the guitar. The arrangements on “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley” were unbelievable. I think a lot of the soloing on Van Halen tracks were improvised, which is cool. Randy took it a step further. His discipline probably came from his mother who taught him at her music school [Musonia School of Music in North Hollywood]. When I was a kid I would read the guitar magazines, and he would always mention that his mother was a big influence.
I went to visit the school, and I met Randy’s brother, Kelle, and his mother Delores, who is nicknamed “Dee.” “Dee” was also the title of an acoustic song on Blizzard of Ozz, which was a big influence on me. If you listen to my acoustic solo on “Love Song” it’s really inspired by that. I played that for Dee when I met her recently. She loves meeting fans, and she told me some stories about Randy. She said that his favorite song was [the Big Band swing tune] “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” how he found his first guitar in his father’s closet, and how when he was in London recording Diary of a Madman he would spend all his downtime studying classical music at a university. She just lit up when she talked about Randy. I have a video of that meeting on my web site.
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