Photo Gallery: Guitar World Magazine Covers Through the Years — 1989
Guitar World's expansion was an irresistible force by 1989. The decade had brought a surge to the electric guitar, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the instrument's invention.
In the final days before Seattle's grunge scene would eclipse L.A.'s metal stronghold, the electric guitar was being pushed to the brink of its technical capabilities. As Guitar World reached near-monthly publication (August had to wait until the nineties to catch a break), the magazine stood at the forefront as a showcase for the talents pushing the guitar -- talents such as Allan Holdsworth, Zakk Wylde and Joe Satriani.
Before the nineties could redefine the utility of popular guitar, a wash of young blood found its way onto Guitar World's pages. Guns N' Roses and Zakk Wylde made their front page debuts, as did shred icon Joe Satriani.
But perhaps most pertinent was the July issue, which marked the last living appearance of one of the most celebrated guitarists of all time. Stevie Ray Vaughan's triumphant return from drug and alcohol addiction, detailed in Dan Forte's article, would be cut short when, a year later, he was killed in a helicopter accident. Posthumous tribute issues would follow in the years after Vaughan's death, but none could ever recapture the eloquence and vibrancy of a fresh interview with the blues legend.
To find out more about the first 30 years of Guitar World magazine, check out our 300-plus-page book, The Complete History of Guitar World, which is available only at the Guitar World Online Store.
Having established himself firmly as Billy Idol's guitarist for the better half of the eighties, Steve Stevens released his first solo album, Atomic Playboys in 1989. The album failed to match the success Stevens saw with Idol, but if you want a taste, watch the opening credit roll in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It's track two from Playboys, "Power of Suggestion."
White Lion's 1987 album, Pride, made the band a hair metal staple throughout the rest of the decade. Just before the release of their followup album, Big Game, guitarist Vito Bratta sat down with Brad Tolinkski to talk about the players who inspired the Staten Island guitar ace.
Joe Satriani was flying high in 1989. He'd just released Flying in a Blue Dream, which peaked at 23 on the Billboard Top 200 (Yes, there were days "guitar albums" could climb that high).
Guitar World paid tribute to a living legend in the last issue of '89. Eric Clapton had just released Journeyman, which featured a roster of talent including Robert Cray, Phil Collins and George Harrison. The album reestablished Clapton as the six-string king and earned him a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Having overcome drug and alcohol addiction, Stevie Ray Vaughan was back in 1989 with a new lease on life and a new album, In Step. Sadly, this would be Stevie Ray's last interview with Guitar World. He died a year later in a helicopter crash outside the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin.
By 1989, Zakk Wylde's ship had landed. He'd gone from teaching guitar for ten dollars an hour to being Ozzy Osbourne's hottest axe-slinger since Randy Rhoads. It was the first time Guitar World readers got a cover feature of Wylde, who would go on to become one of the magazine's most popular attractions.
It had been some time since a jazz fusion guitarist graced a Guitar World cover, but Allan Holdsworth earned his spot in the May issue, having impressed the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Frank Zappa with his fluid, legato-heavy style.
Guns N' Roses had ushered in a new era of "bad boy" rock stardom, but guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin were, characteristically, not impressed. Said Stradlin: "While everyone's talkin' about what we did or supposedly did yesterday, we're already working today on the music they're gonna hear tomorrow."
Everyone likes a little bottom. In April, Guitar World talked with bass legends Jack Bruce and Billy Sheehan. Sheehan had begun working with shred-god Paul Gilbert in Mr. Big, creating one of the most virtuosic, if not underrated, string teams in rock and roll.
Robert Cray reached critical and commercial success with 1986's Strong Persuader and followed it up with 1988's Don't Be Afraid Of the Dark. He talked to Bill Milkowski about bringing the blues to the MTV generation, but staying true to his musical roots.
With 1988's Man in Motion, Night Ranger attempted to recapture the hard rock sound that brought them success in the earlier part of the decade. Their songwriting remained slick, but the twin guitar attack of Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson was as dynamic as ever.