Blog Entry

CBS Community's Greatest Guitarists in History

Posted on: November 22, 2008 8:56 am
Edited on: November 30, 2008 6:32 am
 

-Greetings, Everyone!

-I'd kinda promised when I began this blog back in the late spring that I'd compile a list from the results, but wound up very busy for several months with work & all, and found it all but impossible to do so... 

-So without any further ado, here are the Greatest Guitarists in History....

(-Please stay tuned, Folks, as I'll be compiling this list from my summer blogs, and putting some thought into each entry.  It stands to be a "work in progress" for a bit...)

1.  Jimi Hendrix  -While Jimi placed 2nd to Eric Clapton in the preliminary vote, he completely romped over almost all of his opponents in the run-off voting, even posting a very convincing win over his final match, Jimmy Page.  Hendrix died almost 40 years ago, and was only in the public eye for about 3-4 years before he passed, but the fact that he continues to be so highly regarded to this day speaks volumes.  While Pete Townsend brought power chords and bravado, Eric Clapton eloquence, and Jeff Beck experimented with distortion and feedback, Jimi expanded the sonic and creative possibilities of the electric guitar like no one before him, and quite possibly, no one ever since.  Watching Jimi play in old footage, it's like the guitar is an extension of him-  there is little or no boundery between the man and his instrument.  This was also said of the legendary violinist Niccolo Pagenini, among others, and, in my opinion, remains a characteristic of the very finest of musicians.  He was also a very sensual performer and musician.  He tapped unabashedly into a timeless, raw, and earthy source of energy that while rooting him very firmly in the tradition of the blues, also made him so liberating for his audience, and a perfect mirror of the zeitgeist of his times.   Having said that, while much of what happened in the 60s can sound pretty dated to our ears, Jimi has managed to evade much of that sort of criticism.  I guess great playing and musicianship never grow old...

-Would Jimi have made the same kind of impact today had he been born, say, 30 years later?  It's an interesting question, but obviously a moot point.  The fact is, he seems to have arrived at the perfect time, and while his time here was all too tragically short, he casts a huge shadow to this very day...

 2.  Eric Clapton  -I decided to exercise "blogmeister" perrogative in placing Eric over Jimmy Page for two basic reasons- he recieved far more mention in the preliminary vote (more than even Hendrix, as I previously wrote), and he only lost to Page in the Semi-Finals as a result of a coin-flip. 

-Back to why Eric is here...  Eric has been around now for so long (with a career spanning about 45 years now) he seems almost perhaps cliche to some.  Let's rewind to 1963, when Eric started playing with The Yardbirds.  It's perhaps helpful to bear in mind that guitar "solos" in pop at that time were, for the most part (on both sides of the Atlantic), rinkey-dink little affairs that consisted of a few diatonic notes played for a measure or two.  Eric was certainly one of the folks who changed all that.  Witness his playing on "Too Much Monkey Business" live with The Yardbirds as an 18 year-old.  He had already mastered the Chuck Berry style (itself drawn from T-Bone Walker) and surpassed it even at that tender age.  Before he was 21, he had started his legendary stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and his playing won him both accolades from the blues vanguard in Chicago, and "God-like" status in London.  Not too shabby for a white kid from small town England.  He was, in short, a prodigy- bringing a combination of technical skill, an almost jazz-like sense of lyricism, and maturity to lead guitar playing- all of this coupled with the energy of a still very young man.  With his comerades in Cream, he helped lay the foundations for so many subsequent developments in rock, that I'll only bother to mention one-  Led Zepplin...

-After Cream (or, more precisely, Blind Faith, his second, if lesser known "super-group"), Eric began his retreat from the limelight, and in the process, relinquished his position at the vanguard of rock guitar to folks like our #3, Jimmy Page.  However, even now, in his position as an acknowledged "elder statesman", the respect quite obviously remains, while the influence from his early contibutions is everywhere...

 3.  Jimmy Page  -Starting out in the mid-60s London music scene as a somewhat obscure (but highly regarded) session musician, by the mid-70's Jimmy Page was anything but obscure.  When Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds in 1965 out of frustration with their less blues-oriented musical direction, he reccomended Jimmy Page as his replacement- an offer that Jimmy actually turned down at the time because he felt he could get better bucks doing session work.  He, in turn, reccomended Jeff Beck, a maverick who's ground-breaking playing helped elevate the band to genuine stardom in England.  This helped Jimmy to change his mind about the Yardbirds, and he joined the band on bass when their original bassist, Paul Samwell-Smith, left the group in 1966.  Poor ol' Chris Dreja, their original guitarist, who was bumped to rhythm duties when Eric Clapton joined in 1963, was then bumped over to bass as soon as he felt confident enough on the instrument.  This left Page sharing guitar duties with Jeff Beck- something I'd have loved to have witnessed, but which was very short-lived.  Eventually, the original members disbanded, leaving Jimmy with only the name...   From Wikipedia-

"One account of the band's naming, which has become almost legendary, has it that  Keith Moon and John Entwistle, drummer and bassist, respectively, for The Who, suggested that a possible supergroup containing themselves, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck would go over like a "lead zeppelin", a term Entwistle used to describe a bad gig.  The group deliberately dropped the 'a' in Lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, to prevent "thick Americans" from pronouncing it "leed"."

Well, Led Zepplin quite obviously turned out to be anything but, and while they had a reputation as being loud and heavy, their music covered a ton of ground, with Page playing everything from bone crunching rhythms, to sweetly lyrical blues riffs, to medeval flavored altered-tuning folk, to country, and even touches of "world music"- all done, I might add, with his own signature finesse.  He figured hugely in not only the development of heavy metal, but also prog-rock.  Few other guitarists have covered so much musical ground in pop music, and even fewer have done it, well, with such finesse.  Page well deserves his place among the greatest, in my humble opinion...

Comments

Since: Dec 15, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2008 2:22 am
 

CBS Community's Greatest Guitarists in History

CBS Community's Greatest Guitarists in History

JIMI HENDRIX is a legend...."excuse as I kiss the sky!"




Since: Sep 23, 2007
Posted on: November 22, 2008 11:43 am
 

CBS Community's Greatest Guitarists in History

Awesome, DF. I am on the edge of my seat. Can't wait to see what you've got planned for us. I just put together a little project of my own you (and everyone else) should check out. It's an All-Afterlife Supergroup. It won't be as cool as your Greatest Guitarist blog but I do suspect we'll have some fun. Keep up the good work and go Pats.




Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: November 22, 2008 11:14 am
 

CBS Community's Greatest Guitarists in History

Sounds great DaFan!  Can't wait!


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com