Guitar Gods

Victor Lakpam *

Biggest drug haul at Pallel, Manipur (Indian  Army colonel among six held) :: 24 February 2013
A Guitarist at the 1st Imphal Metal Convention - Metal Age Reloaded - 2012 :: Pix - Phurailatpam Banti

In Delhi, northeast boys are known for their Salvador Dali-esque concept of fashion statement, their unsuccessful attempts to grow a proper goatee and their ability to play unorthodox guitar playing technique. \mm/. Regardless of the stature, there is an old guitar legend passed down from one guitar player to another. Sounds like a really bad, bad spaghetti film. But this legend has a parallelism with that of Faustian legend of the 16th century.

Similarly. At midnight, if you wait in a crossroads a man will appear. He will be tall and dark. You must hand him your guitar, he will tune it and give back to you. After that you will be able to play the guitar crazy good. Like Bruce lee meet Kali meet Popeye with his stash of spinach flinging perfect punches at perfect body chi flowspots. Stars and bones involved. At the same time you can sound as quaint and lethal as Don Corleone. You'd be given that kind of powers for the exchange of your soul because that man will be the devil himself.

So I waited as dumb as I am. Being a stranger to myself and choking on my own cogitation. Standing besides a very handsome crossroads in Sanik farms. A very agreeable and friendly locality. Smelling not so good, looking endangered and clinging on to my borrowed Gibson. I waited. Mentally revising my perfect diction from head to back and back to head. When waiting a minute can seem like hours, five minutes on a road at midnight you start running out of logically thoughts. Every small thing seems more Lovecraft.

I kicked a stone trying to look busy, watched it go wobbly till it stopped lazily few yards away. I looked around, hoping but hope was all I had. The moon was not around, well its hardly around, you have to agree the moon is not in the friendliest terms when it comes to being friends with Delhi. Time. I could have listened to the dark side of the moon twice. It was time to hit the sack. Besides I still had to mug up a series of incompatible cohesive theories by a series of historians. I decided it was enough. I waited for the devil and devil did not come, God bless my soul, \m/.

When it comes to modern guitar playing like any other modern system, prominence is an essentially character and importantly edifice to the community. Like wise Aristotle still remains unmoved regardless of our advancement in life, his thoughts and ideas transcends modern times. Wow. Some thing like that. Similarly there are some old chaps you just can't miss when it comes to guitar playing. Its like if you read Mario Puzo, it leads back to Fyodor Dostoevsky from Dostoevsky it leads to back to Balzac from Balzac, you can conclude he was just very flummoxing. Which is kind of groovy.

But all these guys had one thing in garden variety, that is "realism". Its art, its inspiration, one artists get from another. It's being human. One inspires one and another inspires the other. That's how thing click. That's how things get passed down. That's how people remember people. Their conduct. But to really understand them you have to get to square one. I can chew over them like girls talk about jimmy choo's ora monotonous brain dead politician trashing out about the IMF. But, no. So this is my list of top ten guitarists.

Jimmy Hendrix has to be number one; it was the time when I started savaging my mother's audiotape collection, in the age of Sony Walkman. God, at times I feel old. I must have been twelve; I picked up the Hendrix tape. Hands down to my mom. Gods blessing from above and chemical noise for my ears. I never believed a guitar could make such strange noises.

I idolized every emotional ecstatic note he made with his Stratocaster. Hendrix is like superman on steroids fighting the bad guys with his guitar playing. The notes he made were emotional as well as kaleidoscopic to the ears. Jimmy Hendrix made me believe that I could never be able to play the guitar. Hendrix is so so good, unbelievable good. He wasn't really good at any thing else but he was tremendously god like superior with his guitar. Jimmy still rules, so he becomes Jimmy Zeus in the guitar fraternity. K.O.

Subsequently I have an ornamented LP of Django Reinhardt in my skuzzy cupboard. His playing was uncommon, mainly because he played with only two fingers and with immaculate pace. His third and fourth finger of his left hand was badly burned; doctors believed that he would never be able to play the guitar. Because of the first and second degree burns over half his body. But that didn't bother young Django at the moment. The doctors intended to amputate one his legs. But he refused to have surgery and discharged himself from the hospital after a short while. \m/.

Even though he did play the electric guitar but he was more profound with his acoustic guitar. His contribution to jazz music tremendously transmuted its form. He reinvented an entirely new style of jazz guitar technique. What scores more in my book is that he is the guy who inspired Tony Iommi to pick up the guitar. So Django Reinhardt's astonishments and his ability to play the guitar makes him number two.

Jimmy page, he wanted to become a biological researcher when he was a boy. In 1952, Jimmy's family moved to Miles Road, Epsom in Surrey, in London, which is where Page came across his first guitar. Left behind by the previous resident. It was like handing over a wand to Harry Potter and the only thing he could communicate was his guitar. Jimmy page is a major influence to generations of guitar players. Initially jimmy started out as a session musician. But the rage of rock n roll came over and he quit and did the most rock n roll thing. Start a band.

He broke every norm as a guitarist, when he started out with the Yardbirds and eventually molded Led Zeppelin. He did everything ridiculous but he was trying every thing new. Page broke barriers after barriers with his guitar, come on, led zeppelin transcends all modern rock bands. I had very vague memories of scribbling Led Zepplin everywhere, back then it felt something like a crusade against the boy band fans. So god jimmy comes on number three.

Robert Johnson on humble number 4. Robert Johnson epitomizes rock n roll. No one knows much about him, he recorded very few Homeric songs, he lived fast and died fast. He only existed in records. Like all famous people he became a legend. It is the legend of the crossroads that he is associated with. It is believed that he sold his soul, in exchange for the ability to play the guitar and become famous. He was so good, when he played his acoustic guitar; he made it sound like two players were playing the guitar.

It took me a while to really understand his playing. Since he was the only singer, he made his guitar do the second voice besides the normal guitar playing. So it sounded like three guys. I felt like the dumbest guy when I finally got it. When it came to metamorphic lyric writing, he had epic skill as a wordsmiths. Besides he sings with a soulfulness of human cry. Robert Johnson is considered the great grandfather to all things heavy metal. He is way too brilliant.

On number 5, it is one of those things a music fan does repeatedly, so someone, will eventually like the music. Eric Clapton, my mother played Eric Clapton everywhere literally. She even sent me an audiotape of the unplugged album when I was in school, boarding. One thing about Clapton's playing is that it is so emotionally luring, you just have to like it. He is a major influence to almost all the mentionable guitarist of our time. Robert Johnson has a major influence in Clapton's method playing. He was also known for his signature women tone in his days in Cream. That very few people can replicate. One of the first preliminary bands which sounded heavy. I can play very few Clapton songs. It scares me enough even to try or I don't have time. But with the acoustic guitar he is simply known as the king.

B.B king on number six, free flowing string bends and coruscate vibratos. He tried to play the slide guitar but wasn't really good at it. But he tried to replicate the noise by using the technique of vibrato. Today the word ''vibrato" in the guitar fraternity is associated with him. He epitomized the technique of vibratos. The elevation he gave to blues music is tremendous. B.B king is credited for popularizing blues music, from the underground scene to the mainstream. Often known as the king of blues, he is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time. King is known for mixing blues; jazz and mainstream pop music to get his unique sound. I'm not really into king's music but it is educational to understand his form of playing to really understand blues inclined genre of music. That includes rock and heavy metal. Can't imagine a world without it.

Chuck Berry, if not for him and his guitar. Rock and Roll would have sounded something like a lone daft wolf, howling out to emptiness. Chuck Berry completed the definition of rock and roll. With a tasty beefy chunk of guitar solos in songs and jumpy guitar riffs that you could jump along with. Was that the genesis of today's body surfing and mosh pits? With super groovy rhythm section you could connect to his music. Lyrically he was very conventionally rock n roll, to the point, right in your face. All about the heydays of the good times and bad times. Chuck Berry is one of the pioneers of rock music. So he comes on sacrosanct seven on my list.

By the time I heard eruption, it was at the stage when every artery was gushing with rage. Not all foaming mouth and clenched fist, perhaps something more rationale. Despite of everything else Eddie Van Halen, you can never ever go wrong when you have him guitars. He makes you stop and listen because you will be awestruck. His playing makes your head move along with the strings, erratic facial expression because you can experience emotions that you have never touched before. One of the most important guitarists of the 20th century.

Eddie Van Halen is like Hendrix-good. He plays with matchless dexterity and simply whacking fast. He is also known for popularizing the guitar tapping technique. The technique was around before but he took it to the stage with him everywhere, literally. Beside, Eddie Van Halen's riffssaved rock music when disco music was out growing every thing. That is number 8.

On number 9, David Gilmour, where do I start? All the other guys were ripping their guitars and making crazy noises unbelievable to human standards. Gilmour is the reason I picked up the guitar. Pink Floyd is the reason I can play a song. All my first songs that I learnt to play were Pink Floyd songs. His playing made me believe that I could play the guitar to the normal standards. The notes are not tremendously fast, in fact it is slow, the mind bending string bends, the hammer ion's, the pull off's and the string slides adding to that humane voice. Contributing to the signature style of playing. That is so Floyd-esque. So handsomely slow and mellow, painfully beautiful, progressively humane.

Tony Iommi, call me a pig, but I'm dragging Tony Iommi in the list. Because he is a Piscean and a founding member of Black Sabbath. And I dig guys who are Piscean and a founding member of the coolest heavy metal band in the world. The story goes he was a worker in a steel factory and during work he accidently cut his left hands two-finger tips off, the middle and the ring finger. Sad and feeling blue and not being able to work. He stayed back home and stumbled upon Django Reinhardt records.

Got himself some inspiration and he picked up the guitar. He didn't realize it but when he picked up his guitar he created a noise for a whole journal of music. He dropped tuned his guitar to reduce the tension that was hard on his finger tips, which eventually paved the way for a whole generation of dropped tuned guitarist. At least every guitarist I know plays drop D eventually. Playing drop D is like social norm these days. Besides he wrote down every cool heavy metal riff. Hail metal, \m/.

Now there is a lot more guys I would really like to add to my list. If was gonzo enough, I would add the whole cast of Black Sabbath, Slayer, Skull Valley Sheep Kill, many more, many many more. I would like to add. Like the dumb ants you see hoarding sugar for winter but there is a real science to it and hard work. Because there is an army of guitarist who are really good, works hard, giving inspiration to millions of people everyday. So many good original guitarists are there.

Guitarist who tell their stories, their sadness, their happiness, their stupid deeds, the bad times and the good times all in a melody. Feelings voiced through a guitar. They can make their guitar cry like the saddest soul in world; at the same time sing like banshee and purr like an earthquake. It's about adding your emotions and expressing it through the guitar. Reasoning with feelings and molding it into a song. A song. One of the primeformsto evince humanemotions. Indeed one of the best human inventions to tell stories. Songs have the tendency to out last dynasties. A guitar can tell untold stories.

* Victor Lakpam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 14, 2013

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