The world needs guitar heroes
Nothing symbolises rock’n’roll like an electric GUITAR.
What would rock be without its guitar heroes, the axemen and axewomen who can speak through their strings – translate their inner musical visions through their fingertips??
My first guitarhero was YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. I loved, loved loved everything he did, from the early Alcatrazz-stuff, to his first Rising Force instrumental album and to my favorite “Trilogy” and up to “Odyssey” which was a fantastic album in my opinion. He had Joe Lynn Turner singing on it for gods sake, how could you go wrong?! :)
In a way, it was thanks Yngwie that I got my first job at the newspaper Kvällsposten back in 1988. He was coming to Olympen, Lund, to do a show with the Odyssey-lineup and I wrote to Kvällsposten several times, begging them to bring me along if they were going to interview Yngwie. I wanted to see a music journalist in action cause I wanted to be one one day. So to me it was a great idea to kind of do both – meet Yngwie and watch a reporter in action, all at the same time.
I didn’t get to meet Yngwie on THAT visit to Lund, but the next time he played – I was there to interview him – for Kvällsposten. :) By then, they had given me the job as their rock-reporter because they saw, judging from my letters, that I could write and that I knew my music…!
[One of my absolute favorites… Black Star.]
I thought he was a musical genious.
I mean – he was WILD on stage! He was like a super-model, striking 30 different poses in one minute, yet he would continue playing that guitar like nobody’s business, it was breathtaking. How could you do all that running and posing and headbanging and still play like a modern Paganini and make it look like a piece of cake???
Yngwie is the ultimate guitar hero in my book.
[From one of my first meetings with Yngwie – at Olympen, Lund 1989.
He wouldn’t let the photographer take any pics before he got a Rolex on his wrist!
He had a whole BOX of Rolexes that he wanted help choosing from!
As far as I know, this photo was never published, I got it from the photographer as a gift because it hadn’t been used. :)]
My next guitar hero was PAUL GILBERT.
I wish I could say that I “discovered” him through Racer X but I didn’t. I got the Racer X-albums later but it was the first Mr Big-album that blew me away.
I get all excited just THINKING about it! :))
Paul was – no, Paul IS fantastic! What I loved about him, and still do, is his very personal style. He can show off but he always does it tastefully, and he always has an element of entertainment in everything he does. I adore his goofy sense of humor.
It was always fun and interesting seeing him in a new video, or live shows or something – cause he always had those crazy pants, suits, shirts, and and guitars! I remember the one with the fringes – and he was talking about it in an interview – or maybe in one of his first instruction-videos. He was laughing while explaining why he liked the fringes – and suddenly it made perfect sense. It looked cool and it kept his hands dry!
[My copy of Guitars That Rule The World – with Paul Gilbert’s signature on it]
I collected EVERYTHING there was with Paul Gilbert. I loved his Jimi Hendrix-solo album cause he has such a cool singing voice too. But one of my favorite things was a silly little tune that he played on a CD called “Guitars That Rule The World“, released by Guitar World back in 1992.
It had other great players on it: Yngwie, Nuno Bettencourt, Reb Beach, Zakk Wylde (although I’m not a Zakk-fan) and Richie Kotzen to name a few.
Paul’s contribution was this very goofy, fun melody that to me is 100% HIM. Anything goes!
It was called “I Understand Completely” (even the title is very…. Paul)
Found these on Youtube – the actual tune and Paul explaining how the song came about.
I travelled all over the place to see Mr Big, and of course, it was for one reason – mainly – and that was Paul Gilbert. I was backstage with the guys a few times and I was shocked because back in those days, there was one “prop” that you would always see backstage with EVERY band that came through town: Groupies.
There were barely any groupies backstage with Mr Big, just very few that kind of “had to” be there for the image of the band or whatever. The only one who gave a flying fuck about them was Billy who politely talked to one chick that was dressed in a white leather cowgirl outfit. Paul didn’t give a rats ass, he was eating cereal out of the box. Eric Martin didn’t care either. Don’t even remember where Pat was.
These guys were 100% musicians, not interested in the groupie-thing. Eventhough Paul wrote the kind of self-explanatory song “A little too loose” about his “side step” with a chick in Oklahoma city, he just seemed so nerdy that he wouldn’t know what to DO with those chicks. He was a rock star – yet he wasn’t. He was a musician, all the way, and I admired him even more after that.
I believe in telling people if they do something that I like – cause we could all use more positive feedback in life, in general.
So…. I wrote to Paul when he was out on the road (back in those days, without internet, you had to buy a music mag, check the dates and venues, and then try to send it to the venue that seemed closest, where they would actually receive the mail).
One day, when I got home from work, there was a letter for me. From some hotel in England? It was from Paul!!
I was really touched- he took time to reply, it was the sweetest thing. I’ve had that in a frame ever since. That – and his guitar pick. :)
Saw Mr Big everywhere and Billy Sheehan was the one who ended up talking to me every time, cause Paul was a kind of in his own little world most of the time – which was okay by me, I loved his musicianship, he could be whoever he wanted to be offstage.
Then there were no more guitar heroes for a while. Except for a short Steve Vai-period during the “The audience is listening“-time. I loved his crazy Ibanez-guitars, the one with the hysterical, insane neon colors and the HANDLE! :)
Then…. I went to NYC back in December, which was a dramatic story just that – might tell it again someday but not now… I had tickets for Toronto too but since my friend Kevin couldn’t go and my other friend Shawn had to cancel in the last minute too, I figured what the heck, I’ll skip Canada and just concentrate on the Madison Square Garden-gig.
I just wanted to see my hero ROB HALFORD. That was the purpose of even going to the show. My plan was to just see a few songs with Ozzy and then leave. I’ve seen Ozzy a bunch of times through the years. He is a living legend, NOTHING he’s ever done has ever been BAD. I love all his albums and all that, but I was tired after the ordeal even GETTING to New York that day when LaGuardia was closed and I had to get there from Nashville and Washington D.C by car….!
So I was a wreck when I finally got to the show. Of course, Halford gave me my energy back, I was HIGH after his gig, I mean, what can I say…. The man rules.
The plan was to check out a few songs with Ozzy and go back to the hotel to get some sleep.
But……. Change of plans!!
Zakk Wylde was out of the band, which I think was about time, cause Ozzy needed something new and fresh. And he sure found it.
GUS G is the new, modern guitar hero. I was blown away and time just flew. Tired? Oh yeah, I just forgot that I was. I didn’t miss a thing of Ozzy’s show at Madison Square Garden, and certainly not one single note of Gus’ playing or antics on stage. Holy crap.
Suddenly, Ozzy’s show wasn’t the “same old, same old” anymore. It was new, refreshed, ALIVE, interesting. And it’s because of a 30-year old Greek guy with a “hair-fan” and his ESP’s…!
I haven’t really been a “fan” of anything for a few years, but I felt like an enthusiastic kid again. You get kind of jaded after a while – I mean, I still love my old heroes but it’s hard to get me into the new stuff because nobody quite sticks out anymore. I grew up with larger-than-life rockstars. Those are pretty much extinct.
Gus G has brought it back to rock’n’roll.
What I love about that guy is his ENTHUSIASM, his true love for what he does – you just can’t miss that.
The guy really lives for his guitar.
I enjoy the OzTV-video blog episodes, so I subscribed to them. Almost in EVERY video, you see Gus sitting around somewhere playing his guitar. Before the show. During the show. After the show. In his sleep?? :-D
He plays with passion.
You see him on stage playing, and it’s with such intensity that it’s as if he’s making love to his guitar.
Classy, beautiful, aggressive, technical, heavy, his fingers are so fast that you’d swear you’re watching them with a motion-blur!
I like this guy because he is genuine. There’s nothing fake about him. It makes me curious to find out what lies behind his sincere, pure passion for guitarplaying.
That show in NYC had me go to London with very short notice, to see his band Firewind. I wouldn’t care if he was playing with fucking JUSTIN BIEBER – I would want to go and see him play!
[one of my videos from the London-gig]
I wrote him just to ask about the London show and he wrote back almost right away. Very few people in his position do that. They are busy or lazy or both, and fans are gonna be there anyway, so why bother?
It’s refreshing with a musician that doesn’t have attitude-problems and who plays like he’s best pals with GOD. Or that other dude… downstairs! :)
My perception of this guy is very positive and a big Gus-fan from Canda, a cop who is absolutely nuts about Firewind and Gus, has the most fantastic things to say about Gus as a person. Actually, when I look around the web, the same thing keeps coming back in comments from fans: “He’s such a nice guy”.
He’s unbe-fuckin’-lievable on stage, plays like he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his super-talent – and … he is nice to people. What’s not to like about the dude? :)
I’ll be all over Europe this summer to enjoy Ozzy-shows. Gus G has already placed himself in the history-books as Ozzy’s guitar wiz, yet he doesn’t quite seem to get it yet. :) Watch this clip:
“People think I’m somebody famous….” :-D
The guitar symbolises everything that we love about rock – passion, love, hate, anger, strength – power!!
And the world needs its guitar heroes.
Indeed… for all the technological advances, for all the new sounds you can get out of electronic devices, only an electric guitar really hits the spot. Sorry, but a couple of turntables and a sampler just doesn’t float my boat! Worth keeping in mind whenever we’re told (hello, NME!) to ‘get with the times’ and that ‘its 2011’ – the best music comes from a 70-year old piece of technology! :D
I was more into vocals and DRUMS before- especially drums. A good drummer is like a natural high for me – Cozy Powell, the drummer from Cornerstone, Alan Sorensen (must be Cozy reincarnated!) and the drummer from Pagan’s Mind, Stian – to name a few. But after Yngwie, I totally understand the appeal of guitar heroes and why they are hailed by millions of fans all over the world. It’s just an instrument that you can use to express so many different things, unlike drums. It also gives the guitarist the freedom to communicate with the crowd in a way that a keyboard player- for instance- can’t (since they’re stuck behind their keyboard stacks). It’s just the perfect rock’n’roll instrument.Thank god for Les Paul and his great invention (or at least for perfecting an idea that had already been around since the 20’s…).
Wow, this article or blog what ever it is lol was absolutely amazing! I am also a guitar player trying to make it in this tough industry and this article really gave me the push i was looking for. loved readingevery sentence.Thank you so so much for this,Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!
Hi Roy, I just saw this comment. This site doesnt always send me notifications when someone comments, especially not on older posts. :( Thank you so much for your kind words, I was really glad to see that you liked it. :) And good luck with your playing and your future career!