Read: Guitar Heroes of ‘70s Book

Published recently by Backbeat Books and edited
by Michael Molenda, it’ll satisfy the gearhead in ya while helping you improve
your guitar face…

 

By Rev.
Keith A. Gordon

 

While the
guitar has always had an invaluable role to play in the creation of rock ‘n’
roll music, and the 1960s certainly deified its share of guitarists the likes
of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, it wasn’t until the “classic rock”
era of the 1970s that the “guitar hero” really came of age. During
the decade, no band was considered hot shit unless they had a hot-shot axeman
pulling off monster riffs and screaming solos.

 

For as
long as there’ve been guitar heroes, there’s been Guitar Player magazine, the six-string bible of veteran and
wanna-be fretburners alike. The publication has played its own role through the
years, championing the instrument and its premiere players while offering
plenty of advice, playing tips, and the goods on new gear for the curious amateur
guitarist. One of the things that Guitar
Player
has done best, and done it for decades, is chronicle the lives and
careers of the guitarists we care about, and some that we didn’t know we cared
about yet, through insightful articles and interviews.

 

 

With an
archive as deep and rich as any music-oriented publication, including
long-running zines like Rolling Stone,
it’s only natural that somebody, sooner or later, would get the bright idea to
mine some gold out of those old interviews. Thus Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70s, a “must have”
tome for any fan of rock guitar that collects articles and interviews on 40 of
the decade’s best and brightest instrumentalists. The range and diversity of
players covered may surprise some, but it reflects the magazine’s comprehensive
coverage; thus we get conversations and articles with blues-rock legends like
Johnny Winter, Michael Bloomfield, and Bonnie Raitt as well as jazz and fusion
players like Al Di Meola, Larry Coryell, and John McLaughlin.

 

 

No
discussion of “guitar heroes” would be complete without Clapton and
Hendrix, and Guitar Player Presents
Guitar Heroes of the ’70s
includes rare interviews with both that shed new
light on each artist’s work. It’s with the relatively lesser-known artists of
the era, however, like Roy Buchanan, June Millington (Fanny), and Mick Ronson (Bowie,
Ian Hunter) that the book really shines, providing equal time for these
well-deserved talents.

 

Prog-rockers
are also represented, and folks like Robert Fripp (who seems to have nothing
but disdain for his instrument), Steve Howe, and Steve Hackett have certainly
help expand the guitar’s sonic palette. Some artists here, like John Fogerty
and Neal Schon (Santana, Journey) might not seem to be bona fide “guitar
heroes,” but go back and listen to some of their work at the time and
you’ll see that the editors did not err in their choices. Throw in Eddie Van
Halen, Robin Trower, Ry Cooder, and all the others and you have as good an
overview of the decade as you’ll find.

 

True,
there’s a lot of talk about equipment, string sizes, and plectrums (guitar
picks) among the words about music in Guitar
Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70s
, but the magazine has always been
oriented towards the gearhead audience. Each interview also includes a sidebar
listing three recommended “Dy-No-Mite Discs!” (okay, so this
reference is painfully dated), but the album choices are pretty much on the
nose, so we’ll overlook the format in which they offer them. Overall, Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the
’70s
is a fine collection, entertaining and informative even as it
documents an influential and important decade of music that helped set the
stage for much of what would follow in the rock, blues, and jazz genres. Highly
recommended.

 

 

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