Watch Willow Smith wield a Jackson V to spontaneously riff Deftones’ My Own Summer (Shove It)

Willow Smith
(Image credit: Jahi Jabari/Instagram)

It comes with the territory that, as guitar players, we often succumb to an overwhelming urge to jam our favorite riffs and solos. Whether players are rehearsing in their rooms or sound-checking on stage, those familiar fretboard frolics are almost too good to refuse.

It’s the same story for even the most polished and professional players, with Willow recently taking a brief time-out during a live set to casually riff away on Deftones’ My Own Summer (Shove it).

The quick-fire cover is not only indicative of the aspiring rock/metal star’s tight guitar chops, it’s also yet more evidence that Willow’s guitar-heavy turn – which began back in 2021 with the release of Lately I Feel Everything – is so much more than just a phase.

Not only that, it’s not everyday that Willow is seen without her prized possession onstage – an Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent signature – with the young guitar-slinger switching to the ranks of Jackson to wield what looks like a Pro KVTMG King V for her Deftones tribute.

In the video, Willow jokingly asks the crowd, “Do you guys know that band, the Deftones?” before ripping through the ominous, razor-sharp opening hook. Alas, when the riff reaches its end and the drums sound like the band are about to enter into a full-blown cover, Willow nips things in the bud: “I just wanted to do that for you guys real quick.”

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Willow has been particularly vocal about her love for Deftones in past, telling Kerrang! (opens in new tab), “I would love to sing with Chino Moreno from Deftones. He’s so amazing.”

The emerging guitar hero also spoke about her other musical influences, including the heavier bands that have informed and influenced her riff-heavy approach to guitar playing and writing in recent years.

“I love Lamb Of God,” she continued. “I love Straight Line Stitch – they’re a great band. Also, the main singer of that band is a black woman, which I really, really love. Crowbar is an amazing band. Obviously Radiohead – I wouldn’t call them metal, but they were definitely a huge inspiration. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Primus, and I love Les Claypool.”

Willow demonstrated her love for Primus back in September by posting a clip of herself jamming to the band’s 2022 single, Conspiranoia – a clip that received approval from Claypool himself.

The 22-year-old’s meteoric rise from R&B star to guitar hero has been quite the journey, with Willow now having two guitar-based albums to her name. She joins the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and Demi Lovato – who recruited Nita Strauss into her band – who have all taken their music in a guitar-driven direction in recent years.

Some of Willow’s standout six-string milestones thus far include her raucous SNL performance last month, a blinding performance of Transparent Soul with Lari Basilio and her angsty single with Machine Gun Kelly, Emo Girl.

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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.