I’m a child of pop music.
As much as I love to rock, you can’t escape what you grew up listening to first. For me, that was mom’s favorite pop station on the car radio, as well as my best friend’s mom’s collection of Beatles 45′s. From there I graduated to arena and album rock like Led Zep, AC/DC, Foreigner, Styx, Kiss and many more, but I always kept the love for that sweet melodic pop.
Even today, I’m more likely to listen to the pop stations on the radio than anything else. I’m also quite the connoisseur of the “one hit wonder”. And one of the things that continues to thrill me is finding a gem of a rock guitar solo in an unexpected pop tune.
So I set out to make my fun diversion into the journalistic masterpiece you have before you!
There are so many songs that could have made this list, I realize, so I had to create some criteria for inclusion and elimination. Continue reading “16 Great Rock Solos in Pop Songs” »
Sidemen get no love.
People buy tickets to see the featured artist, but the sidemen make up the bulk of what the audience hears on any musical tour. If they’re lucky, they’ll get an introduction*, but most of them play in virtual anonymity. Within the professional music community they may be well known, but to the general public they tend to be nameless and faceless, much like studio musicians.
In this installment of Unsung Guitar Hero, we’re featuring one of the consummate sidemen of the past 30 years: Robbie McIntosh.
Robbie got his first big break when he joined the Pretenders in the early 80′s, after the death of guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, and his rippin’ Tele solo on “Middle of the Road” is considered one of the great guitar breaks of the decade. After leaving the Pretenders, he went on to do studio work and/or play on tour as a band member for a handful of major artists. Like “former Beatle”-type major artists. Continue reading “Unsung Guitar Hero: Robbie McIntosh” »
Paul Jackson Jr. is a phenomenal guitarist that you likely do not know by name. However you have surely heard his guitar work hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
Currently guitarist for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and American Idol, PJJ is one of the most in-demand guitarists in Los Angeles. He has also done stints in other TV show bands, such as Don’t Forget the Lyrics, America’s Got Talent, and Grease: You’re the One That I Want, but where Paul Jackson Jr. really made his mark was as one of the top session guitarists in LA during the session scene heyday of the 1980′s.
A top LA studio musician (and colleague of Steve Lukather) with over 1000 credits, PJJ is a fantastic all-around guitarist who can play in virtually any style and has been in constant demand since the early 80′s.
But although he can solo like a beast (witness his work with the Tonight Show band and this video of him playing “All Along the Watchtower” at the PRS Experience), PJJ is mainly known as a world-class rhythm player. Basically, he brings the funk like nobody’s business. Continue reading “Unsung Guitar Hero: Paul Jackson Jr.” »
A few weeks back, my wife surprised me with tickets to a film festival. This was not just any film festival, mind you; it was a music film festival at the University of Pennysylvania featuring a documentary that I had been waiting to see for a handful of years: The Wrecking Crew.
So, on that sunny Sunday afternoon, we made the road trip to UPenn and were treated to a terrific and poignant film, full of some of the most glorious pop music of the 20th century. Of course, that glorious music was played in large part by a virtually faceless group of musicians that came to be known as “The Wrecking Crew”.
Since it was uncommon at the time (and for marketing purposes, often unwise) to give credit to studio musicians on the record jacket, the Wrecking Crew was unknown to the general public. But in the heyday of the Los Angeles session scene – the 1960s through the ’70s – they dominated the recording studios, churning out hit after hit.
By then, the rock and roll sound had taken on a much greater role in pop music, and those who could play it well started to infiltrate the studio scene, eventually replacing the veteran session players of previous generations. Apparently the older players thought that the young cats would “wreck” the music business, hence the nickname.
Little did they know that The Wrecking Crew would go on to become one of the most important groups of musicians in American music history. Continue reading “The Wrecking Crew” »
I’m a child of the ’80s.
Although I became a fan of all sorts of music in the ’70s, I became a guitar player in earnest in the early-’80s.
Today’s Unsung Guitar Hero was one of my favorite players as an up-and-coming guitarist, and I spent many hours learning the parts to the hit songs on which he played.
He’s responsible for the signature guitar tracks on TWO of the iconic songs of the 80s – songs that became signatures for TWO different artists – yet he is almost completely unknown to the average music fan.
He is, according to AllMusic, “one of the finest yet underrated guitarists of the early-’80s, arena rock/MTV genre.” However, I’d venture a guess that most guitarists only know him by association – as the husband of one of rock’s greatest female vocalists, Pat Benatar. Continue reading “Unsung Guitar Hero: Neil Giraldo” »
Welcome to another installment in the Unsung Guitar Hero series – articles dedicated to spreading the word about phenomenal guitarists who aren’t household names, but probably should be. In some cases, these players are not even well known to your average guitarist!
Nothing says “unsung” like being the only guy in a remarkable rock trio that is routinely left out of the conversation when it turns to the best players on their respective instruments. But for Rush guitarist, Alex Lifeson, it’s gotten to be the norm.
Best rock bassist? Check. Geddy Lee is always in that conversation. He’s in the Guitar Player Magazine Hall of Fame with six consecutive awards for Best Rock Bassist and has been cited as an influence by some of the top bass names in rock (mainly of the metal, hard rock and “progressive” styles).
Best rock drummer? Double check. Neil Peart is legendary among drummers, and even among music fans that don’t really know his name. “Great drummers? Definitely that guy in Rush.” Modern Drummer Magazine Hall of Fame (the “Honor Roll”) with nine wins for “Best Rock Drummer” and four for “Multi-Percussionist”. Fourteen wins for “Best Recorded Performance”. Four-time “Drummer of the Year” for Drum! Magazine. You get the point.
But Alex Lifeson is the other guy. Continue reading “Unsung Guitar Hero: Alex Lifeson” »