Guitar Gods

Guitar Gods – Chapter Five

Today’s featured guitarist will not be on a lot of folks’ radar, even if he did rank 28th on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time” and then 47th on the 2011 list.  Not too shabby at all.

Mr. Stills has been around a while.  While known primarily for his work with Buffalo Springfield and the Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Young), he was part of the house band for the New York City club Café au Go Go, known as Au Go Singers.  While the groups name leaves some to be desired, the 9-part harmony was spot on.  At least that’s what I read; I was way to young to visit.  Plus, I lived several hundred miles away.

Since Stephen was a military brat (much like my boys) he travelled quite a bit as a youngster.  He spent several years in Florida and Central America.  You can tell he must have picked up his Spanish on the street and not in a class room by his basically unintelligible Spanish ramblings at the end of the CS&N hit “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.  Having grown up in Miami I had many native Spanish (Cuban) speaking friends.  Not a single one could figure out what he was saying.  They’d get words here and there, but nothing that really made any sense.

Stills has said that he intentionally made the final stanzas unexpected and difficult, even using a foreign language for the lyrics, “just to make sure nobody would understand it” (not even Spanish speaking people).

As much as CS&N or CSN&Y are a mainstay of my listening habit, Stills solo work can be just as good, and at times even better.  His eponymous titled first solo album features Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, two other guitarists on this list of guitar gods.  It also had his biggest solo hit “Love The One You’re With”.  That track peak at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.  His guitar can also be heard on Bill Withers major hit “Ain’t No Sunshine”.

I think my first remembrance of him doesn’t even feature his guitar.  It would have been with the Springfield and “For What It’s Worth”.  Neil Young played lead on that one.  I featured that song some time ago here

Stills is known for using the “Palmer modal tuning” when playing acoustic guitar.  I think I need to learn this method as he’s using it in the video below.  And this is one of his songs that I have tried to learn and could never get it even close.  I know he was using a different tuning than the standard tuning I was using, but still.  Palmer tuning has the guitar set to D A D F# A D (or E E E E B E according to some places), whereas standard tuning is E A D G B E.

Stills received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Florida in 2018.  I had heard that he was a political science student at UF but dropped out, but have not be able to verify that.

So here is Stills, solo, with 4+20.



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Skeeter’s Family

Guitar Gods – Chapter Four

Last night my dear older brother (whose birthday was Friday – so Happy Birthday again), texted me to go to you tube to listen to Europa by Santana.  He was impressed by the bass line.  Realizing that he was an amazing bass player in his day, but I wonder how he could avoid the absolute genesis of Carlos Santana.  I have written about this particular track some time ago, in Guitar Gods – Chapter One, so I guess it slipped his mind that I knew the song.

Over the course of the two hours or so we went back and forth via text (well I went on for two hours, he gave up about 90 minutes in) we talked many guitarists from Santana, where we started, to David Gilmore, Mark Knopfler, and Stephen Stills.  But these guys didn’t come up once until I stumbled on the video below.

Stevie Ray Vaughn is way up there on my guitar gods list.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, son-the-younger was almost named for him.   Albert King, on the other hand, was not on the list.  But he is now.  I knew of Mr. King from the blues channels on Sirius.  But I thought he was, as a guitar player, of the B.B. King and Muddy Waters style.  By that I mean he would play little licks only when not singing.  Both King and Waters are amazing blues artists, but I find their guitar work not as strong as King’s.  Maybe I just haven’t seen the proper videos.  Leave a comment directing me to watch something to educate me. 

This is from a 1983 In Session recording.

In Session is a blues album by Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded live for television on December 6, 1983, at CHCH-TV studios in Hamilton, OntarioCanada, when Vaughan was 29 and King was 60. It was released as an album on August 17, 1999 and re-released with a supplemental video recording on DVD on September 28, 2010.  It has also been released on CD and SACD.

It was the first of two collaborations captured for television, the second being as invited guests on a show led by B.B. King in 1987. It was recorded for one of a series of live television sessions recording the performances of various artists. The show was called In Session.  The album includes a few short segments of the banter by King and Vaughan between songs.

Initially, King was not going to do the show as he did not know who Vaughan was.  He did not realize that Vaughan was actually ‘little Stevie’, the ‘skinny kid’ that he let sit in when King played in Texas.  King talks about this on one of the conversation tracks.  When he realized who Vaughan was, he agreed to play.

The album’s material is mostly King’s concert line up, with one Vaughan cut, “Pride and Joy” on the audio CD (the DVD also features Vaughan’s “Texas Flood”).  King is ‘driving’ the session, but he features Vaughan’s guitar extensively on most of the songs. According to the introductory credits on the DVD, a number of the tunes are included there for the first time, having been omitted from the original TV broadcast for reasons of time.



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Guitar Gods – Chapter Three

For us music geeks the sad news this weekend that Peter Green had passed away came as a real blow.  May folks may not know who he was, so here’s a quick recap.  He was the guy that replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.  Still not ringing a bell?  He was a founding member of Fleetwood  Mac.  Surely, you’ve heard of that band!

Of course, the version of Fleetwood mac you probably recognize is not the original group.  Seems that back in 1966 (I won’t mention who young I was) Peter left the Bluesbreakers taking drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, who had only been with the Bluesbreakers for a few weeks to start Fleetwood Mac as a blues band.  Fleetwood Mac didn’t really become the commercial juggernaut of rock/pop fame until Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came along a bit later.

Peter Green (born Peter Allen Greenbaum; 29 October 1946 – 25 July 2020) was an English blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. As the founder of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Green’s songs, such as “Albatross“, “Black Magic Woman“, “Oh Well“, “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” and “Man of the World“, appeared on singles charts, and several have been adapted by a variety of musicians.

Green was a major figure in the “second great epoch” of the British blues movement. B.B. King commented, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Eric Clapton praised his guitar playing; he was interested in expressing emotion in his songs, rather than showing off how fast he could play[8] and used string bendingvibrato, and economy of style.

Rolling Stone ranked Green at number 58 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His tone on the instrumental “The Super-Natural” was rated as one of the 50 greatest of all time by Guitar Player. In June 1996, Green was voted the third-best guitarist of all time in Mojo magazine.

Peter was featured on the Bluesbreakers album A Hard Road in 1967 with two of his songs making the album.  One of which is featured below.  I have also featured one of my favorites of his originals here.

It seems that Peter may have really messed his head up with a bad acid trip in March 1970 while in Munich.  Most reports say this was the beginning of his mental illness issues.  He did spend time getting treatment and managed to get back to playing about 1979.

In 1988 Green was quoted as saying: “I’m at present recuperating from treatment for taking drugs. It was drugs that influenced me a lot.  I took more than I intended to. I took LSD eight or nine times. The effect of that stuff lasts so long … I wanted to give away all my money … I went kind of holy – no, not holy, religious.  I thought I could do it, I thought I was all right on drugs.  My failing!”

He was 73 when he died in his sleep on the 25th of July, 2020.  He will be missed.


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