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guitar heroes
guns n roses
john petrucci
Guitar Learning: Where Have All The Guitar Heroes Gone?
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Guitar Learning: Where Have All the Guitar Heroes Gone?

I was perusing an online listing of the 100 best rock guitarists (not the one at former rock magazine Rolling Stone - a REAL one). Jimi Hendrix leads the pack -- wow, big surprise!

All of the "regulars" were among the top ten: Eric Clapton. Jimmy Page. Chuck Berry. And among the top twenty were David Gilmour, Steve Vai, and Brian May. Very much business as usual. But SHOULD it be business as usual? By now, shouldn't this list be a little more diversified by the next generation of guitar heroes?

Further down the list, I see Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, John Petrucci, Marty Friedman, Slash of Guns N' Roses -- with the sole exceptions of Randy Rhoads, killed in a place crash at the age of 25, and "Dimebag" Darrell Paul, assassinated by a schizophrenic Pantera fan at the age of 38, no one among the top one hundred rock guitarists is under the age of forty-five. Where are today's Jeff Becks and Eddie Van Halens? Here's my theory:

Today's aspiring guitar heroes don't believe that there is anyone to emulate.

The Jimi Hendrixes and Eric Claptons emulated the Chuck Berrys and Bo Diddleys. The Jimmy Pages and Angus Youngs had the Jimi Hendrixes and Eric Claptons. The Yngwie Malmsteens and Stevie Ray Vaughns had the Jimmy Pages and Angus Youngs. The Tom Morellos and the Kirk Hammetts had the Yngwie Malmsteens and Stevie Ray Vaughns. But who are the Tom Morellos and the Kirk Hammetts influencing? Why has the chain seem to have broken?

An apathetic music business

If the major record labels (not to mention the TV talent hunt shows) seem to be peddling nothing but hiphop and pop, it's because rock music takes more time and money to produce, it doesn't translate well into video, and there aren't that many radio stations that will play it. But once a beat box, a wardrobe, and a vocal auto tuner is paid for, a label can afford to splurge on videos for their hiphop and pop acts, and there are plenty of outlets for airplay on both radio and especially television.

Lack of airplay

The rock radio station I grew up with -- the one that introduced me to guitarists from Jimi Hendrix to Richie Sambora -- now considers Green Day to be "hard" rock: I have to go to a college station to hear anything heavier. Meanwhile, on my cable system, there are two country and western channels, a hip hop channel, an R&B channel, two top forty channels, a salsa channel -- and a "classic" rock channel. The videos and documentaries they play are old, which is nice, but there's an absence of upcoming talent -- where is rock's answer to American Idol?

But there is one piece of good news

As of 2010, the music industry reports that rock albums still make up a solid one-third of music purchases, outdistancing alternative music - and heavy metal is outdistancing rap! That indicates that even without the record labels, rock can still make a comeback: all it needs are bands that are good enough. But how can someone doing guitar learning become good enough if there's no one good to listen to? Huh? Didn't I just mention a bunch great guitarists by name?

To get more out of learning how to play guitar, listen to great guitarists no matter how old they are. Just figure out which of their styles appeal to you most, and equally important, try to figure out why. Most important, guitar theory should play a major role in your studies -- what the all the great guitarists do have in common is the ability to read a fretboard like a book!


Street Talk

Judging by Youtube there's a whole lot of talent on accoustic guitar Andy McKee for example. Maybe "unplugged" is the way to go now. Thanks.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I remember the day Randy died. There are still great ones out there, it is just harder to find them. So many new styles of music and new ways of playing the music were available back in the Super Band era. Now to find a pioneer is a real challenge.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

My son graduated with Kenny Wayne Shepherd here in Shreveport. Shepherd is very talented player...Was able to go to one of his concerts and you would have thought you were listening to Stevie Ray for sure....Haven't heard much from him lately but don't listen to blues station much....Good info and thoughts Acy...

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Cheers :) Thanks for the article.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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