In amp-on-at-least-11 tribute to the late, extremely great – not to mention extremely ball- and ear-busting Dick Dale, may I present my Ten OTHER All-Time Favorite Guitarists …in order of their initial phonographic appearances, that is:
Rock ‘n’ Roll is Beat, and Beat needs a Rhythm, and basically… BO KNOWS. Sure, his label-mate Chuck Berry may have had a duck-walkin’ head up in the songwriting department, but what Bo could do with one chord on his box (as opposed to his Vox) guitar helped knock down musical and social barriers aplenty, worked undeniable miracles fusing the rhythm and blues to the rock and soon even pop, and honestly did help shape, oh, let’s say the first two or three dozen Rolling Stones records to cite the most obvious. In order to erect all those magnificent and multi-faceted Walls of Guitar Sound that were to follow, Bo laid the solid hard rock granite groundwork. Period.
Throughout his entire life, the man behind Elvis Presley (and consequently, behind so very much red, hot and blue rock’n’roll history) remained somehow unaffected, unaware of, and even quite refreshingly humble about all of the magic he infused upon so many seven-inch slices of historic vinyl. At least no less a student body as Keith Richards has paid the man due homage. Plus, try as he might – and a fine, fine job he did at it too – even James Burton fell quite short of ever matching Scotty’s “That’s All Right Mama” solo for starters. Ever wonder, for example, why George Harrison’s instrumental Beatle breaks were so concise, compact, yet so packed with pure pop precision? Two words (besides “Carl Perkins,” of course): Scotty Moore.
Ten fingers, six strings, three chords, two accompanists, and one Stratocaster. The Sultan of Lubbock surely taught us all we really ever need to know about how to make the kind of good guitar rock that won’t ever stop rolling. And as you’ve heard me rave on about so many times before, Buddy’s Crickets (alongside producer-and-then-some Norman Petty) truly were creating The Sixties ’way back in 1957 Texas …though no-one except perhaps at least three Fab Fourths realized it at the time.
Now, if ever one was to draw a fine line far back towards the actual origins of Heavy Metal guitar, you’d most certainly find yourself worshipping there beneath the sonic altar which is, and forever shall be, Link Wray. Indeed, there quite possibly could and would never have been such beasts as Bachman, Beck, Blackmore or even Blue Cheer had Link not Rumbled it all first and foremost.
Yes, really! Glen Campbell. Sure, his style (like Scotty Moore’s) grew proudly from Chet Atkins, but from there, there seemed little Glen couldn’t convincingly handle throughout the Sixties and onward: Surf, Spector, Sinatra sessions, and a 12-string Rickenbacker (long before Roger and even Jim McGuinn bought, let alone recorded with one) included. Unfortunately, the Rhinestone Cowboy may never have been exactly the coolest guitar slinger on the block, but I bet half your favorite solos from pop-rock’s Golden Age were played by this very man (right alongside Carol Kaye and Hal Blaine, RIP, need I even add).
Of course Dick Dale is the true, unassailable King of the Surf Guitar – of that there can be no rational doubt. But it took the baby brother Wilson to weld Dick’s wail to Chuck Berry’s railroading assault, and the result was just about the hottest teenaged guitarist America has yet to produce. Such vintage album fillers as “Carl’s Big Chance” simply don’t do this man justice: Sample instead his whitebread, onstage raunch all over that very first Beach Boys Concert album, then add to this all the voice (and temperament as well) of a true angel and you’ve got much, much more to reckon with than the mere “quiet Beach Boy,” don’t you?
DAVE “DEATH OF A CLOWN” DAVIES
And on the subject of child pop prodigies, if all the kinkiest of all Kinks had ever done was to thrust sharp objects through his speaker cone during recording sessions, we’d have been blessed with more than enough from this one single man. But let us not also forget that, as Big Brother Ray often used his guitar onstage as a mere prop, it was often left to Dave to perform double-guitar-duty for his band. No problem! The wee Davies could effortlessly concoct nothing short of a Who-like carnival of sound all by his lonesome …and all without any Keith Moon-caliber cacophony to fall back upon either. No mean feat. Plus, need I add, Dave’s truly impeccable taste in wardrobe as well?
Musicians – and not just guitarists either – are still trying to finger out how in holy heck this one man created what he did, armed with not ever much more than just what that afore-mentioned bespectacled Strato-man from Lubbock wielded. I mean, I’ve positively scoured every possible concert recording and film of Jimi I could find, and damned if I remain as totally baffled as ever as to how he got THOSE notes out of just THAT equipment. But then again, I suppose some things are better left unknown by us mere mortals, all of whom should just be humbly thankful we were allowed to share, if however briefly, some time upon the same coil as James Marshall. So then, if you haven’t already, I wholeheartedly implore you to… GET Experienced!
Question! What do you get when you apply Buddy Holly’s strum-und-drang to the power-filled pop of very early Pete Townshend, then dress it all in Popeye-meets-Eric Von Zipper? Why, you get the six-stringed Ramone who did more than possibly even he himself ever realized to inspire an entire blank generation to plug in, turn on, and drop anyone who gets in their way, musically or otherwise, dead as a pile of old Doors albums. Johnny also helped revive the almighty Ventures-vintage Mosrite guitar too, I’ll have every single one of you know, which adds at least one more feather beneath his leather jacket. Churn on, Johnny. Wherever you are now.
Bringing the possibly lost art of rock ‘n’ roll guitaring (not to mention this month’s Pigshit) to a full-circle conclusion, Dexter Romweber, one full half of the one and only Flat Duo Jets, seems to be one of the few folk left standing during at least the past half-century who has learned what Bo knows and isn’t afraid to grab it – then run with it. He doesn’t solo as much as attack, and he doesn’t Roll as much as he ROCKS …not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, of course. What Dexter brilliantly achieves, on record and especially on stage, is to distill the inner essence of all the geniuses above (and then some), then spit it back into your face and ears as if each song performed is to be both his and your last. You know, I’m simply not hearing nearly enough Dexter Romwebers anywhere anymore (no, don’t even say the words Black Keys or especially White Stripes)… and if you think we all couldn’t use some real amplified E, A and B chords right about now, then you certainly don’t know Diddley!