Before I say anything, let me begin by stating I am well aware that it is POSSIBLE there is no such thing as the best at, well……… ANYTHING and this occurs for two very important reasons:
1) It depends on the listener and their interpretation
2)What One Person Does Well May Not Be Able To Do What Someone Else Can.
Since there are a myriad of genres of music in this world one cannot honestly expect the best, or one of the best, Metal guitarists to be better, or even as good as, one of the best Jazz guitarists. To put it in terms to guitar players in the same genre that is universally known, Eddie Van Halen may be great, but could he do what David Gilmour does? Then again, could David Gilmour do what Eddie Van Halen does?
With that explained I now reveal who I feel can be spoken of in regards to the best guitarist of all time, both in respects to talent, diversity and influence?
His professional career began in 1972 but his first break into the world came in 1975, so we will begin there. The following year, mid 1976, he was performing with his band in a bar when a young up-and-coming band named Van Halen was amongst the patrons. If you read any Van Halen autobiography Eddie admits to being so taken aback by the guitar player’s ability but it was the one song during the latter part of the show that changed his life. The man grabbed a Yamaha Double-Neck guitar and proceeded to play a song that was earliest form of Thrash and Punk Metal. The song was performed as a twelve minute number with the guitar player playing a ten minute guitar solo. During the solo he would face away from the audience and then face them finger-tapping and what became known as “Shredding” on the twelve-string neck.
Two years later Van Halen released their debut album and with the inclusion of Eruption the world took notice to the “Shredding” aspect. Now you have to ask yourself, since Eddie Van Halen clearly admits to have taken the same ideas that he SAW(NOT interpertated by listening to a vinyl) this man play, would we have ever gotten the Neo-Classical, or Shredding, concept that we do now?
Now take Iron Maiden, one of Heavy Metal’s most beloved bands. Both of their longest lasting members Steve Harris and Dave Murray said they picked up the International Edition of a record whose namesake was the same song that Eddie Van Halen witnessed on stage. Dave admitted to being inspired to play the Punk Metal style of Iron Maidens early days by what we he heard on the majority of the record, in particular a song that they actually lifted a riff from for their song THE TROOPER.
Since it WAS the Punk Metal albums, their first two, that scored them a worldwide deal and effectively sent the band on their way to superstardom, you have to ask yourself this question: Would we have the band Iron Maiden that we know and love had both Dave and Steve Harris not been so immensely influenced by this record and song?
Taking a step away from the influence aspect, let’s consider what this man has done over his thirty-seven year career. Though he is remembered most as a Rock/Metal guitarist, let’s not ignore the fact that while in this METAL band they also did Acoustic Jazz, Psychedelic Metal, Classical, Bluegrass songs. More importantly though, when he split and flew solo he went on to record every single style of music there is known, with the exception of Death Metal.
Reggae, Beach Reggae, Celtic, World, Sounds cape, Jazz(Every Form), Blues(Every Form), Classical(Every Form), Folk, Disco, Techno, Spanish, Hip-Hop, Country, R&B, Soul, Salsa, Avant-garde, Punk, Doo-Wop, Boogie, Rockabilly, Gospel, Big Band, Bluegrass, Psychedelic, Soul, Mamba, Grunge, Metal, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, Punk Metal, Hard Rock, Rock, Groove Metal. Is that enough for you?
You can tell the man loves Classical music though, which will always be the toughest form of music in the world, because he released an instrumental classical album, and get this: Even though he never spoke a word on the forty minute masterpiece it was a CONCEPT or STORIED album. How can you tell a story with no words, especially a complex and engaging one, with no words? He told it beautifully through his orgasmic guitar.
So to sum it all up, when you consider that the man has influenced the likes of Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Dave Murray, Ynqwie Malmsteen, Criss Oliva, etc... And can flawlessly execute every style of music that is known, shouldn’t that at least deserve recognition?
Now rather or not you agree with this unnamed guitarist being the best of all time, someone using their common sense cannot ignore what a superb talent this artist must be.
As an afterthought, despite being almost as important as his guitar playing skills. He is one of the most amazing singers in the world, with a wide octave ranging voice, despite being 54.
With this all being said, rater or not you agree with me, Rik Emmett is certainly deserving of any and all praise he receives and then millions of times more. Check out his catalogue and if your someone who simply appreciates SKILL and TASTEFUL HUMILITY in their music, listen to just one of his albums. I can promise you, you will not go disappointed, because as discussed before: THERE IS BOUND TO BE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!
Ten Invitations from the Mistress of Mr. E
Live At Berklee
Rock And Roll Machine (The Song/Album That Influenced Eddie and Dave, Discussed Above)
Progressions of Power