Welcome to the second ‘My Top Five Guitarists.’ Last week journalist Angela Allan gave us her list. Today it’s Dave Higgins, host of Distortion on Triple M. Higgo’s out there really pushing metal in Australia – seriously, can you imagine any other commercial radio station playing “Poltergeist” by the Devin Townsend Project? Or Soulfly’s “Redemption of Man By God?” So take it away Higgo!
choosing your favourite is hard…
Let me explain.
I’ve recently been asked to submit my top 5 guitarists of all time, and trust me, this is truly like asking a parent which is their favourite child. Providing of course that their kids are relatively normal and that one isn’t like Charles Manson so as to give an unfair advantage to the other child, or children.I can play guitar, poorly, and basically, but my appreciation of axe wielders goes back to the first time I dropped the needle onto my first record “Chipmunk Punk”.
For those that aren’t familiar with the blinding awesomeness of Chipmunk Punk, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, those 3 mischievous critters turned their paws to covering some great songs back in 1980. None of which are actually punk songs, more new wave than punk, it featured songs like Queens ‘Crazy little thing called Love’, Blondies ‘Call Me’, The Knacks ‘My Sherona’, so for an impressionable 6 year old, this was pure spun gold, especially is you turned the record player up to 78 so the chipmunks squawked at a pitch that would drive dogs to insanity.
But I would jam on my wooden tennis racquet in the lounge room of mum and dads place, doing knee slides during the solo of My Sherona, not fully realising how much the music was actually influencing my taste in music and increasing my appreciation for the sounds a guitar can make.
So where do you start with a a list like this?
A top 50 list would be easier, but still, how do you decide on a top 5?
I was talking about this with a couple of people and I came to the conclusion that there is no way I could name 5 players that everyone would agree with, I don’t believe anyone could.
The idea of a list like this is to create debate, because everyone will have a different opinion, that’s obvious, because music is such a personal thing.
10 people can think a song is great, but there will be 10 different reasons as to why they think it’s great.
So with that in mind, I’ve decided to construct this list based on why certain guitarists do it for me, and me only, my memories, my emotions, my senses.
This of course can’t detract from the greatness of other guitarists, as I said there are hundreds to choose from, but I’m hoping that fellow lovers of guitar will understand what I’m talking about. It’s a very personal thing.
With that in mind, I still don’t know where to begin, because I have emotional favourites, technical favourites, and pure raw brilliance favourites.
But I have to start somewhere, so, in no particular order, here are my Top 5 Guitarists of All Time. Read that again, MY top 5 guitarists of all time, not yours, mine, and the reasons behind them all.
Brian May from Queen. This is a sentimental and emotional favourite. Queen is my favourite band of all time, Brian May built his own damn guitar out of a hearth from around a fireplace with his dad. That’s awesome. He plays with a US dime (10c piece) which helped create his unique sound. I just bloody love the sounds he’s created and as I said, he’s a sentimental favourite.
Dimebag Darrell from Pantera. There’s no doubt about it, the guy is (was) a true freak of nature on the axe. His riffs and solos and legendary and often replicated and held in high regard, and not just because he was taken from us early, but because he was just that good. Listen to his work, watch the videos, soak in his personality, you will soon understand why he’s in the list.
David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Is there anyone who plays with more soul that Mr Gilmour? Every single solo is pure heart, pure fuckin emotion and perfectly crafted in my opinion. I guess you could say that he’s an emotional favourite too, because my brother introduced me to Pink Floyd, and I thought everything he listened to was awesome, so I drank it in, listening to Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Wish You were Here, escaping into their world and creating my own at times through imagination.
Joe Satriani. I remember reading about Joe somewhere and discovering that he taught people like Kirk Hammet of Metallica, whom I thought was blistering and brilliant in his own right, so I thought, damn, I have to hear this guy, and I bought Surfing with the Alien, and I played it over and over. And over. When I heard ‘Midnight’, I had never heard anyone play like that before, it just floored me, I don’t think I’m the only one.
Kirk Hammett of Metallica. I guess you could say I was a late discoverer of Metallica, 1987 I believe it was, when I started high school and some kids were blasting Master of Puppets. Again, I had never heard anything like it, I wasn’t aware that metal would become such a huge part of who I am. I subsequently bought their back catalogue and like any band I got into for the first time, I completely drowned myself in the sounds Kirk would make.
SO there it is. Yes I am aware that I haven’t included people like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, John Petruccicoz music speaks to us all differently, and I respect that, I enjoy that, and I LOVE what music does to all of us.