High school in the early 70’s was socially awkward. Probably no more socially awkward than high school at any point in time. It was all a matter of which group you fit into. Although I grew up in Brooklyn playing street sports I did not fit in with the jocks. Maybe I had too many pimples to be attractive to cheerleaders. And my stature was not that of a football player, more like a goal post.
I found solace in the company of what we called “heads.” Casual pot smokers and winos (specifically Boonesfarm) We drank beer. the cheaper the better. Called it panther piss, because that’s what it tasted like. Nothing was done in excess, but just enough to get that daily buzz and float through the torment of those halls.
Music was the key ingredient to being in the heads group. The girls were knockoffs of the hippie movement that died the day after Woodstock ended. The best looking girl in our group looked like Neil Young. I caught up with her recently on Facebook. Now she looks like David Crosby.
The main diet of music consisted of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (emphasis on Neil Young), Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, etc. You get the genre.
Arguments would pursue for days and weeks on who was the best guitar player. Clapton is God was a common expression. Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck were often part of the fights. Slide guitar genius always went to Duane Allman and George Harrison. Jazz guitarists were not allowed in the discussion because it just didn’t seem fair. Of course, some wacko would come up with someone like Django Reinhardt. He would be expelled from the conversation. But all was trumped when someone pulled out the Jimi Hendrix card. We had to agree he was the greatest. I mean, the left-handed, teeth playing, behind the back, fire burning guitarist had to be the best, right?
Not so fast.
I did spend a lot of years really listening to guitar players. So much that to this day, I can’t resist a good long guitar solo.
Personally, I was never a huge Hendrix fan. I could listen to Clapton play all day. Jimmy Page never really impressed me, although I did enjoy Led Zep’s funkier songs over the blues rip offs. Jeff Beck, however, is an amazing guitar player and probably the best of the big three in my book. Sounds that he makes with that instrument continue to blow my mind.
Try Jeff’s work with Beck, Bogart & Appice for some of the best rock licks ever recorded. Of course his jazzy instrumentals on “Blow By Blow” and “Wired” are completely insane. Jeff still puts out albums. Probably 100 by now. He still finds a way to make new sounds on his guitar I have never heard. I would highly recommend Jeff Beckology to get a taste of his amazing sounds.
I could never win the guitar argument with my Jeff Beck card and I am not sure why. I still think to this day he is the best. And that includes Eddie Van Halen and any Jazz guitarist you can mention.
Also, a few that hardly get mentioned on my list of amazing guitarists include:
Richie Blackmore (Deep Purple)
Terry Kath (Chicago)
Dave Davies (The Kinks)
Jan Akkermann (Focus)
Roy Buchannan (solo Blues guitarist)
I am sure there are still great guitar players out there today that belong on somebody’s list and we can have this argument forever.
And we should.
But if this Jeff Beck performance doesn’t convince you that I am right, I am sorry…for you