“This situation is unacceptable”: Vernon Reid has launched a campaign to give under-appreciated guitar geniuses more recognition – and it’s working wonders

Vernon Reid
(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

It won’t come as much of a surprise to hear that many of the biggest names in electric guitar have social media followings reflective of their status. Joe Bonamassa, for example, boasts nearly 230k X (formerly Twitter) followers. Slash, meanwhile, has a whopping 3.5 million.

Unfortunately, there are several influential guitar players who have struggled to amass an online following that fairly reflects the impact they’ve had on the wider guitar world.

Granted, there’s more to life than Facebook fans and X followers – and these counts aren't always indicative of real-life achievements – but it’s always a shame to see such impactful players fly relatively under the radar.

Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid has sought to remedy the situation by launching a hands-on campaign on X to help under-appreciated guitar geniuses boost their online profiles – and the results so far have been nothing short of miraculous.

The project began last Saturday (September 23), when Reid (follower count: 66.3k) responded to a video clip posted by Procol Harum legend and Stratocaster master Robin Trower, who in turn was plugging his new single, I’ll Be Moving On.

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“Excuse me, guitar legend,” wrote Reid, who was clearly shocked by Trower’s lack of followers. “How is it possible that you have less than 10K Followers?? W. T. ACTUAL. F??”

What began as an observation into the injustices of social media transformed into something very different indeed. After one of Reid’s followers dutifully pointed out that he had followed “the under-appreciated genius” in wake of his initial post, the Living Colour icon put out a plea to the rest of his online fans.

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“All y’all that follow me, that f*ck with frets (and those that go fretless) should… follow @robintrower. I mean if you HAVE a soul…that is,” he wrote in a follow-up post. Before long, Vernon Reid’s X page turned into a minute-by-minute commentary, with users writing in with updated counts after swathes of six-string fans flocked to follow Trower’s own page.

A day later, Robin Trower’s X account reached the 10k mark, with the skyrocketing count soon becoming a self-sustaining phenomenon: at the time of writing, his follower count stands at the 10.8k mark.

The social media campaign was something of a passion project for Reid, who went on to enthusiastically voice why he thought Trower should be fully recognized for his work on the platform.

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“Thank you to everyone that is responding with a follow for @robintrower, one of the foundational Guitar Heroes of my youth & beyond,” he wrote. “Like SRV, Ernie Isley, Eddie Hazel, & Frank Marino, Robin transcended Jimi’s influence to forge his OWN unique musical context & tone…

“Robin made you feel the narrative,” Reid went on in another post. “Vibrato has been practically abandoned as expressive ornamentation in favor of scalar exotica. Trower didn’t HAVE to play fast to be interesting or emotionally affective (sic).

“Robin did something that there was no name for back then. I would almost call it Proto-Shoe Gaze. Bands like Earth, MONO, & @EITS [Explosions in the Sky] owe a debt to Bridge Of Sighs, & its Dark Blue Cinematic Drama. Bridge Of Sighs predicts dead slow Industrial Doom Rock too, in its windswept way.”

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Reid’s campaign to help Trower proved to be so successful that the guitarist has now set his sights on directing his legion of online fans to help out other under-appreciated guitarists.

Yesterday, Reid singled out blues veteran Robert Cray, who now can boast 11.9k followers despite having only around 7,000 at the start of the online push. As per a passionate plea from Reid, who lamented Cray's social media count, “This situation is unacceptable.”

“Thank you [Vernon Reid],” Cray posted on his newly bolstered X channel. “Just saw all our new followers. My wife thought we'd been hacked LOL when we saw the numbers this morning! So very kind of you!”

Elliot Easton, Ernie Isley, Mike Stern have now been selected for the “10K Guitar Campaign” and, as you’d expect, their respective follower counts are rising by the minute.

Visit Vernon Reid's X account to keep up to date with his ongoing 10k Guitar Campaigns – we imagine there will be a few more in the coming days...

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.