“Talk about a guy that was able to identify himself with just one single note, you know? Those early live recordings from the early 60s: Live At The Regal,
Blues Is King…
when he had that reverb-drenched stereo Gibson sound? That was the archetype for electric blues for me. “Coupled with the quality of the material and his singing, it was simply a tour-de-force. And just so amazingly powerful.”
“Albert was a soul singer and had about 10 distinguishable riffs. But he was able to use it in such an incredibly devastating way… you always know it’s him playing. No doubt about it.
“He wrote the playbook, and we’re all still using those same licks and clichés now. But you have to remember they were inventions back then.”
“Freddie was the scorpion; he would tear your face off with treble and play with bad intentions, you know?
“Him, BB and Albert were the original masters… they don’t call them the three kings for nothing! But as a singer, Freddie was definitely the hardest out of the three to copy.”
“Eric Clapton has to be in this conversation. I learned to play blues guitar just from playing along to the Beano album. More so than even BB King, Freddie or Albert, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf or Robert Johnson.
“Eric Clapton was the conduit for me to get into all of those guys. And, of course, having him play with me at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing.”
“When you hear Rice Pudding, as an instrumental it sounds like there’s a singer on it! Or Let Me Love You, Blues Deluxe, Morning Dew… everything off those first two albums. There was such a badass, nonchalant vibe to how he played that sucked me right in.
“Even though his playing is more technical now than it was in 1968 or 1969, the instrumentals he carved out on Blow By Blow and Wired were really sophisticated. When you hear Rough And Ready or The Orange Record, even though it was a band with no singer, he always made it really interesting by changing his style. He has an infinite capability!”
“I first heard him in 1986 when he was featured in a guitar magazine, back when they came with crappy vinyl that you would need to weigh down with coins to play! It was Cliffs Of Dover live at Austin City Limits, and it was just terrifyingly good guitar playing. I wasn’t even sure if it was real!
“Then I saw him live, and his tones were the best I’d ever heard. It was all being generated from vintage equipment like a ’54 Strat and a couple of Twins, then a Dumble or a Marshall Plexi for that crunch sound. I wondered how this guy was getting all of these sounds out of his Strat. I’d never seen anybody have such a forward-thinking rig like that.”
“You need to have Rory in this list, just for sheer tenacity and intensity. And it was across all of his playing: his slide stuff, leads, writing… all of it. The crazy thing was he would just be plugged straight into the amp!”
“Rory Gallagher was incredibly raw, exciting, emotional and just so real. That was the main thing about him I guess – he was a very real musician, and there have been only a few like that.”
“Sonny reinvented slide guitar. Just like that! To the point where I’ve sat next to him a couple of times and watched him working away… it’s a freak of nature. The amount of stuff happening with the slide and behind the slide, and the sound that comes out is just unbelievably good.
“There’s also another slide guy worth checking out called Kevin Breit. He’s from Toronto, and I think the guy is unbelievable.”
“Sadly, he’s no longer with us; he died about seven years ago. But I was lucky enough to get to do a few shows with Chris in the States.
“He’d come out with a Dobro and would have a piece of wood with a trigger on it for a kick drum. And he’d play some of the craziest, most wonderful songs I’d ever heard. It was so unique and with him, the guitar playing was always another level!”
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