If I had a nickel for every time I have discussed with a friend or fellow music lover about who is the greatest guitar player of all time, I would be a very rich guy.
Various magazines have spent countless pages analyzing guitar players dating back to the 1930s. Names like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck constantly make the Top 5 guitarists list.
Jimi Hendrix once said that Billy Gibbons was the best player he had ever seen. Gibbons was just a youngster when his band, Moving Sidewalks, opened several shows for Hendrix.
Gibbons would form ZZ Top later and join his rightful spot on the top guitarist list.
Eric Clapton thought that Albert Lee was the best guitar player in the business. I think Carolyn Wonderland is the best I’ve ever seen, but everyone has their own personal opinion of who should be at the top spot.
When Jeff Beck died on Jan. 12 at 78 years old from a sudden case of bacterial meningitis, many publications listed him as the greatest guitar player of all time.
Whether he was or wasn’t the best is debatable, but whatever list he is on, there aren’t many names above his.
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born in 1944 in Wallington, England. At six years old, he heard Les Paul on the BBC Radio playing “How High The Moon.” Les Paul was an American guitarist who invented the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.
Beck asked his mom what that crazy sound was coming out of the radio speaker. She explained it was an electric guitar. He told his mom that he just had to have one. She said that they were very expensive and they couldn’t afford one.
Young Jeff tried to make his own guitar with old fence posts and cigar boxes. By his teen years, he had a real guitar, and proceeded to change the course of rock music forever.
His career was incredible, as a session guitarist on some of the biggest hits from London in the 60s and as the lead guitarist for bands like the Yardbirds, the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart on vocals and finally as a solo artist.
His albums, especially “Truth,” released in 1968, “Blow by Blow” from 1975 and “Wired” from 1976, are considered the best albums of his long career.
Known as a perfectionist and often moody guy in person, Beck influenced rock, blues and jazz players for six decades.
He had a unique style, rarely using a pick and playing instead with his thumb and two fingers in a rapid-fire finger picking technique that would influence Eddie Van Halen in his teen years.
I was fortunate enough to see Beck in 1989 when he and Stevie Ray Vaughan toured together. I caught the November 26 show in Austin and they encored together on a blistering version of “Voodoo Child,” the Jimi Hendrix hit. It was a magical night with two amazing musicians at their prime, and sadly they are both now gone.
Lisa Marie Presley dies at 54
The only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie, passed away on Jan. 12, the same day as legendary guitarist Jeff Beck. She had been at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 10 with her mother Priscilla.
They were attending to support actor Austin Butler, who won a Best Actor award for his portrayal of Elvis in the new movie about Presley’s life.
Just two days later, Lisa Marie suffered cardiac arrest at her home in Los Angeles. Her ex-husband, Danny Keough, was with her at the time and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. They were able to restart her heart on the way to the hospital, but she died later that night. Lisa Marie married Danny in 1988, then married Michael Jackson in 1994, then Nicholas Cage in 2002 and finally Michael Lockwood in 2006. All four marriages ended in divorce.
One of the tabloids reported that Lisa Marie was having severe financial problems due to some bad investments. She was the sole heir to Graceland and her father’s estate when she turned 25 years old.
At the time it was estimated to be worth $100 million but was worth considerably more when she sold 85% of the estate in 2004.
Though she was a good singer, she only released three albums. During her short-lived music career, she only toured four times, once in 2003, then 2005, 2013 and again in 2014.
She played Gruene Hall in September 2013 on her Storm & Grace Tour. She will be buried alongside her father and son Benjamin on the grounds at Graceland.
John Fogerty regains publishing rights to his songs
Following a 50 year legal battle, John Fogerty finally regained the publishing rights to all of his Creedence Clearwater Revival songs.
Fogerty formed the band in 1967 with brother Tom and friends Stu Cook and Doug Clifford.
John wrote the lyrics, wrote the music, sang all the songs and produced all the records.
Unfortunately, he naively signed a terrible contract with Fantasy Records that would haunt him for more than 50 years. Basically, Fantasy Records owned all the songs and could do anything they wanted with them.
They could sell them to use in commercials, on soundtracks or phone ringtones without paying Fogerty anything.
When Concord Music purchased Fantasy Records in 2004, they increased John’s royalty rate, but they kept the publishing rights.
Last month they agreed to sell John the publishing rights for an undisclosed sum.
Lately artists have been selling their publishing rights to large media companies for huge amounts of money. Since John never owned his music, it made better sense for him to buy back his songs.
In the future, he or his children could sell them for a huge profit, so that was his reasoning behind this decision.
In his book, Fortunate Son, Fogerty explains in great detail how the Fantasy Records contract was so unfair and outlines the five-decade battle to correct a mistake he made as a 19-year-old musician. Fogerty is currently planning a major summer tour that is slated to start on May 5 in southern California.
Random notes from the music scene
Alex Meixner will be sitting in with Brett Cline on Friday night at his Sidecar gig. The Sidecar is located downstairs at the Prince Solms Inn.
They will be doing a fantastic evening of jazz, so check them out if you are in the area.
Country superstar Eric Church will embark on a massive arena and stadium tour in June. Joining him on several dates will be Texas acts Whiskey Myers, Midland and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Midland and Hubbard will be the opening acts at his July 28 show in Dallas and at the July 29 concert in Austin.
Robbie Bachman, brother to Randy, and also a founding member of Bachman Turner Overdrive, died on Jan. 13. He was 69 years old and played on all of the band’s biggest-selling albums.
Local band Sun Valley Station recently filmed two videos at the Brauntex Theatre. They performed two songs, “Big Bad Wolf” and “Cigarettes,” and both videos will be posted soon to their Facebook and YouTube pages. On Friday they will play Billy’s Ice, and on Saturday they will open for Josh Ward at Gruene Hall.
Americana artist Margo Price just released a new album titled “Strays.”
County Line Band will be at the Elks Lodge here in town on Friday night, then at Anhalt Hall at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.
Keep your eyes and ears out for newcomer Myron Elkins from Otsego, Michigan. He is a fantastic new blues rock artist that sounds like the classic music from the 70s.
The Texas Music Office in Austin recently named Marshall, Galveston, Houston, McAllen, Wimberley and Salado as music-friendly cities.
Gruene Hall announced two new shows, Brent Cobb on March 24 and Charlie Robison on May 5. Tickets to both shows are on-sale Friday at 10 a.m. at GrueneHall.com.
You can add Kenny Loggins to the list of artists that are retiring from touring. He just announced that his 2023 This Is It tour will be his final one.
Last but not least, pop star Madonna will start a 35 city global tour beginning July 15 in Vancouver and will stop in most major US cities, including Dallas, Houston and Austin. Tickets go on-sale on Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com.