Great Guitarists of the 70s

When people think of the great rock guitarists in the 70s, they will almost always mention what I call the big 3, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.  

These three were considered by many to be the top of the heap back then. Eric Clapton thrilled many with his gutsy blues style and Jimmy Page opened a door with a new style for the many metal axemen which would follow him. Eddie Van Halen was the late comer, arriving on the scene in 1978 and carrying on into the 80s, he set the standard which other guitarists could only hope to achieve.

I’m sure many would put forward arguments for many other guitarists and rightly so. The 70s did have its share of those who could smoke the fingerboard. Of that many, the three I wish to put forward here are Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ted Nugent.

As a teenager in the mid and late 70s, I heard many would be guitarists copying the famous riffs on “Smoke On The Water” first played by Ritchie Blackmore when he was in Deep Purple. Blackmore had a style all his own. However, considered by many to be the “master of the riff” was Tony Iommi. You only have to listen to classic Sabbath songs like “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” to see why. Like Van Halen, Ted Nugent was a late comer for me. Sure, he had been around before then but it wasn’t until 1977 when I heard “Cat Scratch Fever” on my little AM only radio, that I would eventually realise that I was listening to one of the guitar greats.

As in the above, I am definitely sure that many would suggest a lot of guitarists for the final category, the “underrated guitarists.” There were many guitarists who are considered great but didn’t fully get the recognition they deserved. However, I am going to list the three who I feel were definitely underrated back then; Brian May, Gary Richrath and Craig Chaquico.

Most of the British readers may be a little shocked that I am including Brian May here. It is true that in Britain, he was already being put in the above category. However, this wasn’t the case in the USA. While Queen were often in the charts, I don’t remember much talk about May’s guitar skills back in the 70s. In fact, one person shot him down saying that the guitar was dubbed in fifteen times when Queen albums were being produced. Boy, I wish I had a time machine. That is why Brian May didn’t get the respect he deserved as a guitarist.

The problem is when people think of REO Speedwagon, they tend to think of their more commercial stuff in the 80s and don’t realise what a hard rocking band they were back in the 70s. I am going to touch on this more in the future. But this is why their guitarist Gary Richrath, still probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I challenge anyone to listen to the song “Roll With the Changes” of the album “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish” album and say differently. When I listen to that song and most of their other 70s stuff, I fully appreciate the guitar work of Richrath.

Back in the 1970s, Jefferson Starship were considered a band that made “mellow out love songs” and just about all of their singles were that. That is why their guitarist, Craig Chaquico, didn’t get the recognition he deserved back then. However, when I hear his solos on the songs “Run Away” and “Ride the Tiger,” I know that I am listening to a man who knows how to work the six string. Chaquico was a great guitarist and fortunately for him, Jefferson Starship changed to a more rocking sound in the 80s and his talents were given more appreciation.

I know there are many more axemen I could name here and everyone is invited to contribute who they think might have been a great guitarist in the 70s.

Next Post: Great Rock Albums of the 7os, Aeromsith- Toys in the Attic

To buy Rock and Roll Children go to www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

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