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.
PETE TOWNSHEND by Ace Frehley
I got all my rhythm work from listening to Pete Townshend and Keith Richards. I think Pete is a wizard when it comes to chords. He can play the same chord in, like, 20 different positions, doing inversions, suspensions… Just listen to Tommy. I’m a huge fan.
Pete has a great right hand as well as a great left hand. “Tattoo” is a great picking song, but of course he’s known best for his power strumming, like on “Pinball Wizard,” and his power chords, like on “My Generation” and the chord that opens “I Can See for Miles.” His rhythm work was just amazing.
The first time I saw the Who was the same day I saw Cream for the first time. They were both performing at a Murray the K show in Manhattan. [The revue-style show, presented by disc jockey Murray Kaufman, was called Music in the Fifth Dimension and presented at the RKO Theater from March 25 to April 2, 1967.] I was cutting school, and a friend and I snuck into the show and got down in front. It was the Who’s first New York show. I think the headliner was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.
I saw the Who perform again, at the Fillmore East, in 1968, the day after Martin Luther King got shot. [The civil rights leader was assassinated on April 4, 1968.] The Who weren’t going to play because they were worried about riots, and I believe they ended up doing a short show. Ironically, Paul Stanley [Frehley’s former Kiss coguitarist] was there too, but we didn’t know each other at the time.
ALVIN LEE by Mick Mars
Sometimes I feel I should’ve been true to myself as a guitar player and stuck with the blues. All bullshit aside, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Alvin Lee, Jimi Hendrix…that stuff was the total shit for me. I was brought up on those players, and they all influenced me in one way or another.
When Bloomfield started getting too countrified for my liking, that’s when I discovered Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. Alvin brought a real explosive side to the blues. Some people said they couldn’t handle it, but I thought he was great.
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