Skip to main content

The Story Behind Mysterious Libyan Guitar Hero Photo

As you might remember, we posted this mysterious photo, left, earlier his week.

It shows a man in the middle of a gun fight in Libya playing a guitar while other men are firing guns around him.

It appeared with this caption: "Libya's new regime forces fire their weapons at fighters loyal to fugitive strongman Moammar Gadhafi as a comrade plays a guitar during a battle in Sirte on Oct. 10, in a drive to control Gadhafi's hometown after a month-long siege."

Now we have the full story -- or at least does.

It was shot (bad word choice?) by Aris Messinis, a photographer for the AFP agency in Athens. "In many ways the photograph captured the ad hoc revolutionary spirit that has been displayed throughout much of the conflict by the former 'rebels'," according to the story. "Men, with no formal military training, but with an enthusiasm to see Gaddafi defeated threw what little they had at the dictator's standing forces - with the military might of Nato flying overhead."

But why would he play a guitar in this situation?

"The NTC fighters were trying to advance to the centre of the city and it was a heavy street fight with lot of incoming and outgoing firing. (AK-47, machine guns, anti-aircraft machine guns, RPGs, sniper firing)," Messinis told Channel 4 News. "I realised by looking at him through my camera that he was trying to encourage the other fighters. It was impossible to hear his music becaue the distance between me and him was some 50 metres and the 'Boom! Boom!' was too loud."

For the rest of the story, check out

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.