It’s a fact: electric guitar players and the US national anthem go hand in hand, and recent months have proven this notion to be true.
Not only have we seen Nita Strauss perform it at WWE’s NXT TakeOver, we’ve also had the pleasure of witnessing Metallica blaze through the anthem at a recent NBA game.
Now, Journey’s Neal Schon has joined the long list of guitarists who have performed the anthem at major sporting events, having featured at last weekend’s NFL kick-off to serve up a wailing, sustain-laden rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Making an appearance prior to the Las Vegas Raiders vs Chicago Bears at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, Schon took to the field armed with his supremely suave IHush Lady M Strat 2 – a custom build from Japanese luthier Naoki Ihashi – for the dazzling performance.
The IHush used for the occasion, which sports an HSS configuration, single f-hole and a Floyd Rose tremolo that sees plenty of action, is the second iteration of Schon’s Lady M Strat – the first of which was revealed back in 2017.
Flanked by a pair of Marshall stacks and joined by his pedalboard, the Journey founder launched into a faithful run-through of the anthem’s iconic opening motif, before decorating its later passages with some classically Schon-style scale licks and rapid-fire flourishes.
Owing to the stadium’s acoustics, Schon’s sound is decked out with a monumental natural reverb, and is further enhanced by some customary plunges on the whammy bar and super-tight vibratos.
Speaking after the event, Schon posted to social media, “Wow! What an absolutely amazing honor and rush!"
“What an amazing time we had today,” a separate post read. “(Want) to thank everyone involved today. You were all amazing. Thank you friends for allowing me this honor.”
In other Schon news, the Journey guitarist recently parted ways with a number of axes from his personal collection, including his Don’t Stop Believin’ guitar, which sold for $250,000, and a 1959 Gibson Les Paul that sold for $350,000.
Schon has also been busy putting together the next Journey album, which he recently speculated could be the modern-day Escape because it’s “so good”.
“It's ballistic, man,” Schon said. “And there's no lack of guitar on this record. So I'm excited about it getting out there.”