The first thing that really moved me when I first listened to music was the sound of the electric guitar and that is still true to this day. I can remember listening to Elvis Presley and hearing Scotty Moore’s great guitar sound. At the time I did not know who Scotty Moore was; I just knew Elvis.
After that I watched The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and saw Ricky Nelson, but it was James Burton wailing away in the background that impressed me. The guy who really hooked me, however, was Chuck Berry, as he had his own distinct style and there was no mistaking just who it was coming up with those great sounds. Every other person who ever played the guitar borrowed something from him.
Over the years, from the late ’60s to date, I have been fortunate to see just about every major guitar player live in concert. With The Fillmore East in New York, Bill Graham gave us all the opportunity to see the best. Some of the greats I saw there were Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Alvin Lee, Duane Allman, Albert King, BB King, Mick Taylor, Mike Bloomfield, Leslie West, Peter Green, Kim Simmonds and Johnny Winter. I have also been lucky enough to travel around the world to attend many great festivals and venues, including The Chicago Blues Festival, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Isle Of Wight Festival, the Marquee Club, The Agoras, and The Fillmores East and West to name but a few, and got see many historic performances. One of the most memorable was seeing Albert King at the New Orleans Jazz Festival right before his untimely death.
I have also had the opportunity to see many of the greats in the studio over the years and at sound checks (I ran Viceroy Music and Bluestorm Music). One of my most memorable projects was working on Rattlesnake Guitar: The Music of Peter Green. I had the opportunity to record Larry McCray, Harvey Mandel, Kim Simmonds, Vince Converse, Innes Sibun, Ray Gomez, Lonesome Dave Peverett, Southside Johnny, Billy Sheehan, Rod Price, Ian Anderson, Jon Paris, and Snowy White plus countless others. One of the sad notes of the project was that the last tracks Rory Gallagher ever recorded were on those records, as Rory truly was one of the greats.
I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see and work with many of these great guitar players. The one thing that all of these guitarists have had in common was that they were influenced by Jimi Hendrix. I can remember the first time I heard him. Wow, I just never heard anything like it, and neither had anyone else. Just as Hendrix was influenced by Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and other blues greats, Jimi took those influences, turned them into his own style, and influenced almost every electric guitar player who heard him—including his own influences, like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters, practically a unique feat. His sound without a doubt changed the way guitar would sound forever. E