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Classical Influences












Influence history......

Growing up in the Detroit area and having two older brothers who had some cool record collections I realized later in life how much this music really had an influence on my tastes before I even picked up a guitar. I had the luxury of hearing Alice Cooper, Grad Funk Railroad, Humble Pie, Deep Purple, Jeff Beck, James Gang, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, Ted Nugent, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Santana etc.  I was lucky to have this stuff playing around the house. I remember taking my brother's Edgar Winter Group  "Frankenstein" 45 record to school in the third grade for record day and getting weird looks from the other kids and the teacher. That still is a great song. The Detroit scene was cool, I remember getting a little am radio and really diggin the song that had "Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck is gettin dirty and gritty" I don't know who does it, hell I was about 5 yrs old.

As I became an older and in my early teens I got into REO Speedwagon, Peter Frampton, Journey, Bob Seger, Boston, Bad Company etc. Still all pre-guitar days. My first rock concert that I ever went to was Journey at Cobo arena in Detroit when I was in the 7th grade. That experience really moved me and from that point on I tried to hit every live show that  I could from my favorite artists.  Although I had acoustic guitars around the house and I could figure out simple 5 chords, and bits and pieces of songs, I wasn't interested because it wasn't electric. In fact I really don't count these times as "playing guitar" years because the interest or motivation to learn anything wasn't there.

On to Van Halen, I remember hearing "Eruption" for the first time and going, wow! Now that is some cool guitar playing. Still, I didn't have an electric guitar and really wasn't too interested in learning how to play it.  Also around this time my future brother in-law Rocky had an 8-Track tape of Black Sabbath's Paranoid that he let me listen to , I can't remember but I think it scared him or something because I don't think he wanted it back :)  it was some spooky sounding stuff. I was really attracted to it right away because it was then I realized that music can project moods, this stuff was scary and evil sounding, I thought it was cool. This brought me into my late jr. high and high school days. I as a huge Black Sabbath fan.

Being a Sabbath fan eventually lead me to anticipate hearing the Ozzy's new band "Blizzard of Oz". I heard how messed up Ozzy was with drugs and booze and I thought to myself  what a waste and that there's no way the guitar player would be nearly as cool as Tony Iommi and Sabbath. Well, I was wrong, I first heard "I Don't Know" on the radio and was  in awe of the guitar sound and the solo, the muted part towards the end solo did it for me. I was a changed person from that point on. I wanted to play guitar, I wanted to sound like that, I HAD to learn how to do that. I still didn't have an electric guitar and was lucky enough to get one for Christmas in 1981. My parents got me a killer Alverez acoustic guitar, while it was a beautiful instrument, it was no electric and my parents let me take it back to Wonderland Music in Dearborn Michigan and exchange it for something I did want. I remember walking into that place with tons of electrics on the wall and going "oh yeah, this going to be cool. I didn't know anything about quality only that I was into heavy metal and hard rock, I was able to  get a Hondo Explorer  and a Yamaha 20 Watt amp. Man I was making noise right away and loving it.

Randy Rhoads was the guy who did it for me, please check out my Randy Rhoads page dedicated to him and his memory. He had such a profound impact on me personally and musically that I can't begin to summarize in a paragraph.

The next players that I got into were Dio's Vivian Campbell. I liked Ronnie James Dio's vocals on the Rainbow and Sabbath records and I thought Vivian blazed away on guitar.

Adrian Vandenberg was another melodic player that had a sweet guitar tone.  His first two solo albums were great. I remember seeing the Burning Heart video on MTV and had a hard time locating the album for a while.

Next came Yngwie Malmsteen who is without a doubt is my second most influential player to have a huge affect on the way I viewed the instrument. Other than Randy Rhoads there was no single player that did this to me. I really loved his classical influence, clean fast picking, arpeggios. There was not too many guys around that the time who played like this and I think that along with Randy and Eddie, he has had the most influence on guitar players of our era. After Yngwie came some great players like Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore, among others but the whole Bach and roll  and instrumental thing got fashionable and pretty boring real quick.

Other players who I love;

Gary Moore - This is one of the greatest guitar players ever. I really like his rock albums and wish he'd drop the blues thing for a while and return to a Victims of the Future and Corridor of Power type of music.  I knew of him from a bass player "Smitty" At the time and when I heard his solo on "Shapes of Things" I knew what Smitty was talking about. I remember Smitty saying to me "If you can play that solo, I'll kiss your ass" lol. Well A while later when we jammed I played that song. No I never held him up to it. He used to use that saying a lot, if you can play Far Beyond the Sun or whatever. It used to challenge me to play difficult stuff, not that I wanted him to kiss my ass or anything but to show him I could play this stuff.

George Lynch from Dokken - Ultimate cool tone. George, leave the baritones alone please.

Al Di Meola - Jazz / fusion player with one of the fastest picking hands known to man. I really fell in love with is fast muted runs and his melodies

Larry Carlton - Most rock people know him form the great Steely Dan albums but I was turned on to him by a local guitar teacher and friend from Taylor MI, Wally Reed. Come to think of it  Wally was a big influence on me as well. He was the same age as I was but  he started guitar in 6th or 7th grade and is a great Rock, Jazz and Classical player. I used to take lessons from him when I would get in a rut in my own development. Anyway, back to Larry, I went out and bought the Sleepwalk album and I really fell in love with his bending and 335 tone. Bluesy, Jazzy and oh so cool. He actually got shot in the head during the 80's by someone breaking into his home or studio, the ES-335 in him overcame the 357 bullet. It was miracle he survived and is still playing, touring and recording.

I just realized that I could go on and on here. I'll never be able to name every influence and I'm sure I'll forget to mention some. In addition to early 80's heavy metal I am hugely influenced by classical music, primarily Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, Vivaldi, Mozart and Baroque era music. I love the violin. I still go through periods where I only listen to classical music. Click their photos to learn about them.





Randy Rhoads

My  Diary of a Madman tour review of the Feburary 1982 show at Cobo arena in Detroit






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