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My Early Guitar Influences

Remembering Guitar Greats Who Inspired me while I was learning and developing my guitar style.

As early as 5 yrs old I remember my dad playing Merle Haggard, & Johnny Cash. As I got older I was in denial about my love of country picking. The first solo I learned was “Folsom Prison Blues”  with Luther Perkins played for Johnny Cash. Luther played a telecaster that had the bite! Country wasn’t cool, and I wanted to be cool and like rock music. I would listen to my brothers music which consisted of Zeppelin, Foghat, The Who, and then he introduced me to Lynyrd Skynyrd! I was beyond hooked! What I didn’t realize is the reason I liked them was that the guitar playing was not only amazing, but not colored by effects. To play these songs you really had to study. These guys could flat out tear it up! The thing I was surprised to realize is that they had country roots. When I would listen to the solos I noticed how precise the picking and notes were. They were so tasteful. At the beginning of Lynyrd Skynyrd there were three guitar players. Gary Rossington who was the main rhythm & slide player, who did do his share of solo’s. Ed King, the one who came up with the intro to one of the most recognizable songs, “Sweet Home Alabama”. I loved Ed Kings picking & tone. It was that chicken picking stratocaster bite! Again still in denial that I liked country guitar (jokes on me).Then there was Allen Collins! Allen was a rare breed. His soloing and feel was second to none. He was a master at his craft. If you don’t know who he is, just listen to Free Bird. I know you have heard it. He plays the entire solo!! His body of work is just amazing as you listen through the early years of Skynyrd. In later years, Ed King left the band but, when they released their last album in 77, they added Steve Gains. Just when I thought they couldn’t get any better, Steve brought more chicken picking and a blues feel to the band. My favorite song & solo on the Street Survivors album is the cover of Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man”. Yes, you read it correct, Merle Haggard! The song “I know a little” just blew me away right from the opening riff. Both of these songs take precise timing between your left and right hand. To do these you must learn to utilize the right hand. You need your other fingers, not just your pick. I realized then that is the style I want to play! Go figure, It’s country guitar. The thing I like most about these pickers is they could do it live. Their live album “One More From The Road” is still one of my favorites.

So the moral here is, be open to learn anything. Don’t put yourself in one category like I tried to do. Being open minded has enabled me to play more than one style of music and

I enjoy playing everything!

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