Rock Guitar Heroes Part 2
Most rock music fans are aware of the guitar heroes like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page….but there are so many other fantastic guitar players that sort of fly under the radar. They are often well known to other guitar players and serious band fans, but not as well known as the guitarists listed above. If you’re aware of these players already…then you’ll probably agree and if you’re not aware of these artists….do yourself a favor and check out their work. You’ll be absolutely blown away.
George Lynch (born September 28, 1954) is an American hard rock guitarist and songwriter. Lynch is best known for his work with 80’s metal band, Dokken, and his post-Dokken solo band, Lynch Mob. Lynch is considered to be one of the most influential and famous 80’s metal guitarists. He is known for his unique playing style and sound. He is ranked #68 on “100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time” by Guitar World magazine and is also ranked #10 on “Top 10 Metal Guitarists Of All Time” by Gibson.
George has cited Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Jeff Beck and Michael Schenker, along with Eddie Van Halen, Allan Holdsworth, Jan Akkerman, Christopher Parkening, Al Di Meola, Roy Buchanan, Albert King, Frank Marino, Muddy Waters,and Yngwie Malmsteen as being part of his musical influences.
Paul Gilbert is an American hard rock/heavy metal guitarist. He is best known for being the co-founder of the band Mr. Big. He was also a member of Racer X, with whom he released several albums. Following Mr. Big’s disbandment in 1996, Gilbert launched a solo career, for which he has released numerous solo albums, and featured in numerous collaborations and guest appearances on other musicians’ albums.
Gilbert has been voted fourth-best on GuitarOne magazine’s “Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time”. He has also ranked in Guitar World’s “50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time” list.
Yngwie Johan Malmsteen Pronounced as ( ing-vay mahlm-steen); born Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck on 30 June 1963) is a Swedish guitarist, songwriter and bandleader. Malmsteen first became known in the 1980s for his neoclassical metal playing style in heavy metal.
In early 1982 (at the age of 18), Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who had heard a demo tape of Malmsteen’s playing from the 1978 titled Demo Powerhouse, brought Malmsteen to the United States. He played briefly with Steeler on part of their 1983 self-titled album, then appeared on Graham Bonnet’s album Alcatrazz, their 1983 debut No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the 1984 live album Live Sentence. In 1984, Malmsteen released his first solo album Rising Force, which featured Barrie Barlow of Jethro Tull on drums and keyboard player Jens Johansson. His album was meant to be an instrumental side-project of Alcatrazz, but it ended up featuring vocals and Malmsteen left Alcatrazz soon after the release of Rising Force.
Malmsteen’s Neo-classical style of metal became popular among some guitarists during the mid-1980s, with contemporaries, such as Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Marty Friedman, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore becoming prominent. In late 1988, Malmsteen’s signature Fender Stratocaster guitar was released, making him and Eric Clapton the first artists to be honored by Fender.
His guitar playing style is characterized by complicated heavy metal riffs executed at great speed and with extreme precision, often using alternate picking technique and little vibrato. His compositions are usually filled with melodies and hooks, in order to make well-constructed songs, instead of long neo-classical themes like some of his peers do. His shred guitar work has attracted many fans over the world and his musicianship has often been compared to the ability of guitarists of his age like Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Steve Vai, David T. Chastain and others. In 1986 he declared that the main influences for his compositions and guitar solos came from the work of Deep Purple’s guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and from Japanese music for koto.
in 1981 he decided to make his original band, Loudness,. The many heavy metal albums produced by Loudness brought him international fame and vast critical acclaim. He is the only member of Loudness that has been in the band since its inception, producing more than 20 studio albums in 25 years. Takasaki has also continued the production of solo works, starting with Tusk of Jaguar in 1982
Amir Davidson (stage-named Amir Derakh), is an American musician. He is currently the guitarist for a newly reformed Rough Cutt. He was once a guitar/synthesizer player in the rock band Orgy, and has also played guitar in the band Jailhouse.
Derakh is an avid guitar designer. He has worked with Grover Jackson of Jackson Guitars and has personally designed several of the guitars he currently plays (the most famous being The Disruptor). One of his motivations for designing his own guitars is his desire to create something unique yet functional, and having the public wonder “Wow, what is that guy playing?”
Jake E. Lee:
Jake E. Lee (born February 15, 1957) is an American guitarist signed to Shrapnel Records. He is best known for playing with Ozzy Osbourne between 1983-1987 and later in Badlands with Ray Gillen. He formed the band Red Dragon Cartel in 2013. Their eponymous first album was released in January 2014 and entered at No. 69 on Billboard’s Album Charts. He has also recorded solo works in his own name, examples being the instrumental album A Fine Pink Mist (1996) and cover album Retraced (2005).
When Ozzy Osbourne sought a permanent replacement for the deceased Randy Rhoads, he came to Los Angeles to audition lead guitarists. Bassist Dana Strum, who had recommended Rhoads to Osbourne in 1979, this time recommended Lee for the job. Osbourne was torn between Lee and Dokken guitarist George Lynch. Though Osbourne is said to have initially chosen Lynch, he soon changed his mind and Lee became his full-time guitarist for the next five years. Lee joined Osbourne’s band in late 1982 following the tour supporting the Speak of the Devil live album which featured Brad Gillis on guitar.
With Lee, bassist Bob Daisley then began writing lyrics and recording the Bark at the Moon album. The songs “So Tired” and “Bark at the Moon” were released as singles, with accompanying videos, and they received regular airplay on MTV and radio. To date, the album has sold three million copies in the U.S.
After Osbourne left the Betty Ford Center where he had been treated for substance abuse, Lee presented him with the music he had written while Osbourne was away. Osbourne was purportedly very satisfied with the quantity and quality of Lee’s new music, much of which would be used for the 1986 album, The Ultimate Sin. The album was awarded platinum status in May 1986 and was awarded double platinum status in October 1994. Lee and Osbourne once again toured extensively, this time with Phil Soussan on bass, John Sinclair on keyboards and Randy Castillo on drums. In Kansas City, Missouri on April 1, 1986, a concert was filmed which would be released later that year as the home video The Ultimate Ozzy. In 1987, after touring with Ozzy Osbourne in support of The Ultimate Sin album, Lee was fired in a telegram from Sharon Osbourne while working on one of his muscle cars back in Los Angeles. Lee was completely caught off guard at the time of his firing and was under the impression he had a solid working gig with the Osbourne camp.
After being fired from Ozzy’s band, Lee formed the blues-based hard rock band Badlands with vocalist Ray Gillen in 1988. Badlands consisted of Lee, Gillen, drummer Eric Singer, and bassist Greg Chaisson. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1989. In 1991, Singer left Badlands to join KISS following the death of longtime drummer Eric Carr. Badlands then released the follow-up album Voodoo Highway. During a tour between that album and the upcoming third album they were ready to begin recording, Gillen left the band and was briefly replaced by John West. Gillen later died of AIDS-related complications in 1993. In 1998, Dusk, the final Badlands album consisting of unreleased live in-studio 24-track demos was released in Japan; a European release followed in 2000.
David T. Chastain:
Chastain is a metal guitarist who emerged in the mid-’80s along with a wave of other neo-classical guitarists. He has released about 50 recordings under multiple names, including David T. Chastain, CJSS, Georgia Blues Dawgs, The Cincinnati Improvisational Group, SPIKE, Zanister, Ruud Cooty and Southern Gentlemen (blues-rock) as well as a number of heavy metal releases under the band name Chastain, accompanied by female vocalist Leather Leone.
In more recent years, David has worked as a record producer at his own company, Leviathan Records. His label specializes in discovering and promoting new talents, specializing in guitarists and bands. He also runs Diginet Music, a company specializing in rare, unreleased or out-of-print music.
Marty Friedman is an American guitarist, known for his tenure as the lead guitarist for heavy metal band Megadeth which spanned nearly the full decade of the 1990s, as well as Cacophony alongside Jason Becker until 1989. Friedman has resided in Tokyo, Japan since 2003, where he has hosted Japanese television programs such as Rock Fujiyama and Jukebox English. He has released albums with several record labels, including Avex Trax and Shrapnel Records.
Friedman formed and played lead guitar in several other bands, including Deuce, Hawaii (which had previously been called Vixen), and notably Cacophony. Cacophony featured neoclassical metal elements and synchronized twin guitar harmonies and counterpoints shared with guitarist Jason Becker. He played guitar on the 1987 album It Won’t Be Long by Christian rock band Shout. In 1988, he recorded demos for Jet Red that eventually were released as bonus tracks on the 2009 Jet Red release “Flight Plan”. In August 1988, he released his first solo album, Dragon’s Kiss.
Friedman is known for his improvisation and for fusing Eastern musical with Western music and other styles, such as neoclassical, thrash metal and later progressive rock. When playing, he often uses arpeggiated chords and various customized scales and arpeggios, some of which relate to Asian (Chinese and Japanese), Middle Eastern and other exotic scales, which are different from the typical minor/major pentatonic and 7 modes based on the Major scale. He also occasionally uses sweep picking, displayed in his famous “Tornado of Souls” solo.
Friedman, a right-handed guitar player, has an unorthodox picking technique; the angle in which his hand is clenched goes against the conventional palm mute frequently used in Metal music. He also frequently uses the upstroke as opposed to the down stroke, especially on the high strings (strings B and E). Rather than strictly picking from the elbow or wrist, he’ll also pick moving his fingers — a technique called “circle picking”.
Jason Becker is an American heavy metal guitarist and composer. At the age of 16, he became part of the Shrapnel Records-produced duo Cacophony with his friend Marty Friedman. They released the albums Speed Metal Symphony in 1987 and Go Off! in 1988. Cacophony broke up in 1989 and Becker began doing solo work, having released his first album Perpetual Burn in 1988, also through Shrapnel. He later joined David Lee Roth’s band and recorded one album with him, A Little Ain’t Enough.
Becker’s performing career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 1996, Becker lost the ability to speak, and he now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. Despite his disability, he continues composing by using a computer and has since released with Shrapnel Collection, a “best of” album of his favorite songs and three new songs.
Considered a virtuoso guitarist and one of the top players of his time, Jason Becker studied the works of violinist Niccolò Paganini and was a playing partner with Marty Friedman. He later arranged Paganini’s 5th Caprice, performing it during an instructional guitar video. Becker’s compositions often include high speed scalar and arpeggio passages—trademarks of his ‘shred’ style of guitar playing. Often incorporating advanced techniques such as sweep picking, alternate picking, artificial harmonic accenting, and tapping; he was among the leaders of the field during the technical ‘shred’ guitar and Neo-Classical Metal trend of the mid to late eighties and is still respected and honored by his musician peers today. The song Serrana appearing in the album Perspective, is an example of his sweep-picking skills. He demonstrated the arpeggio sequence during a clinic at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A video of this performance first appeared on his Hot Licks guitar instructional video.
At the age of 20, he joined David Lee Roth’s band to work on Roth’s album A Little Ain’t Enough, replacing Steve Vai, who had joined Whitesnake. In 1990 Becker won the coveted Best New Guitarist award from Guitar Magazine. While preparing for the album, Becker began to feel what he called a “lazy limp” in his left leg. He was soon diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS; Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and was given three to five years to live. He finished the recording using light gauge (thin) guitar strings and other techniques, which made it easier for him to play with his weakening hands. Although he managed to finish the album, which was released in 1991, he did not join the supporting tour due to his inability to perform on stage; former Lizzy Borden guitarist Joe Holmes took Becker’s place on tour.
Due to his illness, he eventually lost the ability to speak and now communicates with his eyes via a system developed by his father. His ALS gradually robbed him of his ability to play guitar, to walk, and eventually his ability to speak. He remains mentally sharp and, with the aid of a computer, continues composing. In the back of the Perspective CD case, Becker states “I have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It has crippled my body and speech, but not my mind.” His medical condition has remained stable since 1997. In 2003, Becker posted on his website that he was feeling better and had gained some weight, while the folder for his 2008 album Collection also mentions an upcoming book.
Vincent John Cusano better known by his stage name Vinnie Vincent is an American guitarist and songwriter. He is a former member of the rock band Kiss from 1982 until mid-1984 during the band’s transition out of their 1973–1983 makeup period. Vincent was the last member to wear a unique makeup/costume configuration, as the character of “Ankh warrior ” (a design created by Paul Stanley) until he and the band were first shown without the makeup during an interview on MTV in September 1983. He also was the leader of his own band, Vinnie Vincent Invasion.
After being introduced to the band by songwriter Adam Mitchell, Vincent was brought in as the replacement for guitarist Ace Frehley. Vincent’s personality meshed well with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, thus enabling him to play lead guitar on six of the nine tracks on the Creatures of the Night album as well as co-writing three. After a disappointing Creatures of the Night/Tenth Anniversary tour, that finished on a high at what ended up being the “last” makeup show (and Kiss’ largest crowd attendance) at Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Vincent returned to the studio with Kiss to record the Lick It Up album. His work was productive, yielding eight co-writes out of the ten songs on the album (a record for any member until Bruce Kulick’s nine on Carnival of Souls and Stanley’s ten on Monster).
Though contributing to Creatures of the Night in 1982 as a session player before being named as Frehley’s replacement in December 1982, Vincent for all the public knew, was the official guitarist in Kiss and played all the lead guitar on Lick it Up. In what was a frequent occurrence for former guitarist Frehley, a “ghost player” was asked to play on the album, with Rick Derringer recording the solo on the opening track. Album producer Michael James Jackson explains, “There were just some things that Vinnie couldn’t play. His sensibility was often too melodic for the band’s style. Vinnie was always struggling to find his place within Kiss, both musically and personally. As I recall we brought Rick Derringer in to take a pass. Moments like this were difficult for Vinnie, but the attitude all of us maintained was that the quality of the record would always be a the priority rather than anybody’s ego!”
Though the band seemed to have renewed vigor on stage, all was not well. Vincent’s refusal to sign the employment contract strained the relationship with Simmons/Stanley. Due partly to disputes over what his role in the band was and his pay would be (some reports indicated that Vincent had asked for, and was flatly denied, a percentage of the band’s gross profits), and despite the exhortations of both Simmons and Stanley, all through his tenure with the band Vincent refused to sign any contract making his employment official. This ultimately led to Vincent leaving the band after the North American leg of the “Lick It Up” tour.
At a March show in Quebec City, as the band prepared to close out their set, Vincent broke into an impromptu solo, leaving the other band members standing onstage with nothing to do. After the Lick It Up Tour ended in March 1984, Vincent was terminated from the band, and replaced by Mark St. John. Despite parting on bad terms, Vincent was later utilized by Kiss as a songwriter on the 1992 album Revenge, contributing to the songs “Unholy”, “Heart Of Chrome” and “I Just Wanna”. Vincent again fell out of favor with Simmons and Stanley, as they claimed that Vincent again began “making all kinds of crazy demands and pulling the same kind of crazy stuff all over again”.
In heavy metal publications like Hit Parader, Vincent has been described by Kiss members as a ‘self-destructive person.’
Following his departure from Kiss in mid-1984, Vincent used his money that he made from his tenure in the band and took a long vacation and traveled the world for a full year visiting places like Tahiti, Philippines, Mozambique, India and Europe, including a visit to the small town Mora in Dalarna, Sweden.Then he formed the band Vinnie Vincent Invasion with, among others, former Journey singer Robert Fleischman in the mid-1980s and released two studio albums: Vinnie Vincent Invasion in 1986 and All Systems Go in 1988. The band broke up in 1989. After that, the band’s singer Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum formed Slaughter.
Ronni Le Tekro:
Ronni Le Tekrø is a Norwegian guitarist best known for playing with the Norwegian hard rock band TNT and as a solo guitarist cooperating with guitarists Terje Rypdal and Mads Eriksen as “N3”. Tekrø moved to Raufoss at a young age, and he has lived there all his life except between 1982 and 1985 when he lived in Trondheim.
Le Tekrø plays with an extremely accomplished technique, and he is considered by many of his peers to be among the “best of the best” players alive. One of the big differences in his playing, (compared to others like Yngwie Malmsteen) however, is that his guitar solos are usually a separate melody which can actually be hummed, similar to Neil Schon’s solos in Journey songs. He has the technical ability to play far faster than many other guitarists, but he does so sparingly. This is a large part of what designates him as one of the best players in terms of “phrasing,” which puts him in an entirely separate league from other “shredder” guitar players.
His inspirations as a guitarist include Steve Hillage, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Brian Robertson, Jimi Hendrix, and Ted Nugent.. He also claims to have invented the “Machine Gun Style.” *George Lynch of Dokken states Le Tekrø’s solo for “Caught between the Tigers” is “a real face-melter. It’s spine-tingling.”
Tony MacAlpine is an American musician and composer. In a career spanning three decades and twelve studio albums, he is best known as an instrumental rock solo guitarist, although he has worked with many different bands and musicians in guest appearances and collaborations.
Together with his first studio releases, Edge of Insanity (1986) and Maximum Security (1987), he had a prominent role on other works during the popular shred era, including keyboard performances on the debut albums of fellow guitarists Vinnie Moore (Mind’s Eye, 1986) and Joey Tafolla (Out of the Sun, 1987). Soon after his own debut, he played guitar in a heavy metal supergroup named M.A.R.S. (an acronym for MacAlpine/Aldridge/Rock/Sarzo), which resulted in the 1986 album Project: Driver.
MacAlpine was highly influential in the neoclassical metal genre, becoming known for his instrumental rock style of playing that displays highly advanced shred techniques; one of his most oft-used techniques being ‘sweep tapping’, a variation of sweep picking. He has incorporated elements of classical, jazz, fusion, hard rock and heavy metal on both guitar and keyboard, and has been described as a virtuoso by Jason Ankeny at AllMusic.
Vinnie Moore is an American guitarist and a member of the English hard rock band UFO. Moore is considered one of the most influential and important guitarists to emerge from the virtuoso boom in the mid to late eighties.
Mike Varney discovered him via a demo and bio that Vinnie submitted to the Spotlight column, which Varney headed for Guitar Player Magazine. His connection to Varney led to an opportunity to appear in a Pepsi commercial in 1985, (only Vinnie’s hands appeared in the commercial as his guitar playing is heard. Following this, Moore recorded his first solo album, Mind’s Eye (1986), released on Shrapnel Records and featured Tony MacAlpine on keyboards. The album received several awards from guitar magazines and sold over 100,000 copies
Vinnie Moore played lead guitar with the heavy metal band Vicious Rumors on their debut album, Soldiers of the Night (1985). The album features Moore’s solo-song “Invader”, which was in the style of Van Halen’s “Eruption”. The shred guitar craze of the late eighties led to more releases for Shrapnel.Moore also began performing with other hard rock and heavy metal bands.
Moore joined Alice Cooper’s band for a tour and then appeared on the Hey Stoopid (1991) album. Moore has released two instructional videos on guitar playing.
Tom Morello is an American musician, singer-songwriter and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the band Rage Against the Machine and then with Audioslave. As of 2016, Morello is a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He is also known for his acoustic solo act called The Nightwatchman, and Street Sweeper Social Club.
Morello met Zack de la Rocha, and the two founded Rage Against the Machine together. The group went on to become one of the most popular and influential rock acts of the 1990s.
He is best known for his unique and creative guitar playing style, which incorporates feedback noise, unconventional picking and tapping as well as heavy use of guitar effects. Morello is also noted for his leftist political views and activism; his creation of his side project The Nightwatchman offered an outlet for his views while playing apolitical music with Audioslave. He was ranked number 40 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
To Be Continued…