FAVOURITE GUITARISTS – JOHNNY THUNDERS
LONDON GUITAR ACADEMY has the great pleasure of introducing its FAVOURITE GUITARISTS series with guest blogger-true music enthusiast and longtime friend Paul Wood! In our first in instalment we pay tribute to the immaculate JOHNNY THUNDERS
Careering out of the Bronx in 1971 as part of the New York Dolls on sky high platform shoes that would give most people a nosebleed and a bouffant hair style that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an 80s US female soap star, Johnny Thunders (and his guitar) gave the early 70’s a look and sound that would never be forgotten.
Playing in an aggressive style with a throwback to 50s rock’n’roll and r’n’b, the Thunders sound was a sharp contrast to the guitar sounds of early 70s rock.
Mixing his love for 50’s rock’n’roll and doo wop with the teen romances of the 60’s girl group sound, both the New York Dolls and his later solo albums and shows were unafraid to feature a healthy sprinkling of covers – all given the Thunders guitar sound makeover.
Notable covers either live or in the studio included Pipeline (Chantays), Stranded In The Jungle (The Jayhwaks), Pills (Bo Diddley), Don’t You Start Me Talkin’ (Sonny Boy Williamson), Bad Detective (The Coasters), There’s Gonna Be A Showdown (Archie Bell & the Drells), and Do You Love Me (The Contours).
To quote the title of their 2nd (and final official album) The Dolls were clearly a case of “too much , too soon” but the Dolls had a big influence on the trendsetters that emerged with UK punk.
With the Heartbreakers imploding in a befuddled mix of drugs and inter-band squabbles over the sound of the L.A.M.F mix, the subsequent years produced a number of sporadic releases (and re-releases) of varying quality under the Johnny Thunders name, with the best being “So Alone”.
A mysterious and lonely death in 1991 in New Orleans only served to underline his legend and reputation but to quote the title of the best track (and his best ballad) from the “So Alone” album – “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”.
Guitars most associated with Johnny Thunders:
Gibson Les Paul Special/Gibson Les Paul T.V. (Honey yellow withP90 pick-up)
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
New York Dolls – Too Much Too Soon
Heartbreakers – L.A.M.F
At the age of 18, Reinhardt was injured in a fire that ravaged the caravan he shared with Florine “Bella” Mayer, his first wife.They were very poor, and to supplement their income Bella made imitation flowers out of celluloid and paper. Consequently, their home was rich in highly flammable material. Returning from a performance late one night, Reinhardt apparently knocked over a candle on his way to bed. While his family and neighbours were quick to pull him to safety, he received first- and second-degree burns over half his body. His right leg was paralysed and the third and fourth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. Doctors believed that he would never play guitar again and intended to amputate one of his legs. Reinhardt refused to have the surgery and left the hospital after a short time; he was able to walk within a year with the aid of a cane.
Django brother Joseph Reinhardt, an accomplished guitarist himself, bought Django a new guitar. With rehabilitation and practice he relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralysed. He played all of his guitar solos with only two fingers, and used the two injured digits only for chord work.Django Reinhardt played acoustic guitar his entire career. He played electric once, during his tour with Duke Ellington in the States, but it wasn’t a success and he never played amplified again. Django only used 1 brand of guitar: Selmer guitars, typical gypsy jazz instruments with an oval sound hole and very high action.Check out the full bio below…
His son Babik Reinhardt is also a formidable guitarist.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 6 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (previously ranked No. 3 in the 2003 edition of the same list), and he was ranked No. 17 in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time. According to Edward M. Komara, King “introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed.” King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, because of this he is often nicknamed ‘The King of Blues’.BB also has an powerful soulful singing voice that has proved a powerful foil for his beautiful guitar playing.
B.B. King wrote a song called “Lucille” where he talks about his guitar and how it got that name. The song was first released as part of Lucille and it is included on the B. B. King Anthology 1962–1998 album.
“It seems that it loves to be petted and played with. There’s also a certain way you hold it, the certain noises it makes, the way it excites me … and Lucille don’t want to play anything but the blues … Lucille is real, when I play her it’s almost like hearing words, and of course, naturally I hear cries.” — B.B. King, liner notes from the album, Lucille, 1968
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Tommy Emmanuel – Lewis & Clark
The wonderful William Thomas “Tommy” Emmanuel AM (born 31 May 1955) is an Australian guitarist and occasional singer, best known for his complex fingerstyle technique.At London Guitar Academy we love Tommy Emmanuel he has such grace and beauty when he plays. Always an absolute pleasure to here and watch the genius that is TOMMY! Tommy effortlessly manages to combine great technique with fantastic free flowing musicality that really does set him apart as both a musician and guitarist. Subtle but raw with passion and grace. Tommy really is the pinball wizard! Love Music Play Guitar!
Tommy Emmanuel – Classical Gas
Everyone would love a guitar teacher like Tommy Emmanuel