Sadler Vaden: "Some downplay their influences, but I wear them right on my sleeve"

Sadler Vaden
(Image credit: Gonzales Photo/Stian S. Moller/PYMCA/Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Sadler Vaden is comfortable with both sides of the spotlight. Before his stint as lead guitarist for Drivin’ N Cryin’ and his current axe gig with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, the South Carolina-born picker fronted power trio Leslie. “People always ask me, ‘Was it hard to go from being the star to being a sideman?’” he says. 

“But I never looked at it that way. I love songs. I love being part of the creative process. So I have no ego about playing someone else’s music, as long as it’s great.”

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Player, MusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.