Monday, April 16, 2007

Anecdote # 282

warning: the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily your opinions.
they are in fact my opinions, which you may chose to disregard.

thank you. the management.

there are three guitarists whose influence I would never want to shed.
one is dead and two are living.

My Favorite Compliment.
when in my mid-teens and in my first teen band the denims,
our bass player Mike Wilshire would invite me over to his parents house.
I was the drummer in the band and as such,
I'm certain I had never even touched a guitar at that time.
mike always had the coolest new records.
(he introduced me to the music of bob dylan and jimi hendrix.)
mike played a new single from one of our favorite bands the yardbirds.
the year must have been 1964? I'm guessing.
side one was called jeff's boogie.
the flip side was over under sideways down.
I loved both songs but the guitar playing on jeff's boogie simply amazed me.
I was hooked on everything jeff has played ever since.

strange sidebar: in 1965 the denims played a show on galbraith road
on the outskirts of cincinnati. the public address system (as it was then called)
was provided by an infamous pair of brothers, the taggert brothers.
known for their outlandish behavior the taggerts would show up
at a teen dance in a customized hearst with gold plated lanterns.
their p.a. system which everyone rented included gold plated microphones.
they raised chickens in their plush apartment they shared and fed them
a special blend of chicken food which would clog their throats and cause
the chickens to say what sounded like "fuck, fuck". so they had these
chickens walking around in their apartment saying "fuck, fuck," while they
would entertain...I couldn't make this stuff up, could I?!
anyway, the night the denims played I noticed the taggerts had
a very nice tape deck running so I asked if they were taping our show.
"oh yes dear", said myrtle, "we're taping over last night's show."
"well, who did you work with last night", I inquired.
"one of those new british bands...oh, yes.. what were they were called?
the yardbirds!"

jimi hendrix was the most stunning guitar player ever to walk the earth.
but he was more than a guitar player.
a true blues singer. otherworldly songsmith.
a social phenom....a messenger.
and like some visionaries he burned as fast as a comet streaking across the night.
then he was gone.

jeff beck kept going.
a pure guitarist.
new sounds. new inventions. new tricks.
way back to jeff's boogie in 1964
he had chops, but he was not a chopslinger.
he had humor, touch. taste.
he evolved to give his guitar a voice.

fast forward nearly 20 years and I was standing in the balcony of a club in london. some loud band was playing but I was paying no attention. I was certain the guy just around the corner of the balcony (which was an open walkway, not a seated balcony) was jeff beck. I kept looking at him. and he kept looking back! just as I decided to head towards him, he did the same towards me.
"You're him!" I said. "You're that guy with the elephants!," he said. it was love at first sight.
unable to talk over the din, we had a good shout at one another. jeff even invited me to come out to his house in the country the next day. unfortunately I was far too busy plummeting to stardom. (a lost opportunity I will always regret.)
over the years we have become friends, bumping into one another as often as we can. usually we have some wine and tell funny stories until one of us has to go
(which ever one has a concert the next evening.)

at the time of first meeting jeff as now,
I was working with the last of my three guitar influences: robert fripp.
to say he has had a profound effect on me personally would be like saying
"hey adrian, you gotta big nose". pretty obvious.
(yeah, but how would I smell without it?...terrible. brummp chee!)
like jeff and jimi, robert has carved his own giant niche
into the overgrown mountain of guitarists.

but back to london...
Royal Albert Hall, what a strange feeling to play there. you can feel the history. as if to remind you, the dressing rooms are filled with lovely black and white photos of past performances. the beatles and the stones on the same bill together! imagine. led zeppelin. jimi hendrix.
krimson played the royal albert in 1995 with the double trio. there was a guide who, after soundcheck, took us to the top of the dome; very precarious. you could look 135 feet down into the auditorium. it was an honor to play there but musically the experience seemed a bit cold, sterile. a better london show was at sheperd's bush empire on july 3, 2000 with the last quartet: robert, pat, trey, and myself. it was also the sight of my favorite compliment.

I remember bill bruford was in the audience and I really wanted to see him.
after the show there is a customary bar you retire to to meet friends,
and press the flesh as they say.
I walked in hoping to find bill
and ran straight into jeff beck.
we hugged and shook hands.
while he shook my right hand he pretended with his left hand
to be sawing my arm off
at the wrist.

and that was my favorite compliment.


  1. Ah, there. It's on now.

    Yes, Jeff Beck is one of my all time favorites, along with you, Robert Fripp and Jimmy Page. I try to see Jeff anytime he comes around. He never fails to amaze me. That finger picking/stumming and palm bending is incredible. You guys make it look so effortless and give it so much feeling. Thanks.

    Thanks for sharing your anecdotes. I'm really enjoying them.

  2. Three great guitarists! Unfortunately I never had the chance to see Beck or Hendrix. Jimi was on such a level, he transcended everything. Jeff Beck was such an innovator and experimentalist, but always seem to have the blues in his work. The first time I saw King Crimson was on July 4th 1984 in Hartford, CT. Seeing him come out by himself and playing The Star Spangled Banner just blew me away. Very Hendrix-like in a lot of ways, but most certainly all Fripp. I was so impressed King Crimson (my fav lineup), I ended up going the next night in Boston.
    If I could add a couple of my favorite guitarists to the list, they would be:you, Richard Thompson, Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan (underatted in my opinion as a guitarist). Heck, I think I need to add Rob Fetters & George Cunningham as well :)

  3. Hey Adrian,

    first of all, thanks for the blog!
    When I was 11 years old I saw Jeff Beck live for the first time (with my dad and then-guitar teacher), and it changed my playing life forever. I will never forget his version of "A Day in the Life"! You are right, Jeff made his guitar a voice. I sent Jeff a letter via snail-mail and got a very nice reply from his manager, who said he passed it on to Jeff. Nice guys all around.

    I started playing when I was 6, and from the beginning I was huge Fender Strat fan and sought out anyone who played the instrument. My first issue of Guitar Player happened to be a "Strat Mania" issue, which is where I first discovered this cat named Belew who played a funky-looking Strat. Up until I was probably 15 I used to write these lists of my favorite guitar players, and they would be updated often. Needless to say, after checking out the music this Belew made it on the list. I guess you could say I had some pretty cool musical influences when I was young (there's a home video of me dancing around to Danny Gatton's 88 Elmira St. at 3 years old)!

    I didn't discover Robert until years later. I was perusing my dad's vinyl collection, and Discipline was the first one I pulled out. Hey, Belew is on this album! So the first side of that album was my first Crimson exposure. I got deep into Robert's playing after that as well. Of course after that I had to have everything else Crimson ever did.

    By the way, you mentioned all the black-and-white pictures of past acts at the RAH. If I ever get a chance to visit there, I should hope there will be a Belew picture up as well.

    And if there was one person who I'd want to saw my arm off, Jeff would probably be it!


  4. Well, for me it was 3 great bassists (Lee, Squire, Levin)...

    I will say I had the great pleasure of seeing the double-trio lineup of King Crimson in Atlanta in 1996. I was there with the other two-thirds of my band at the time, all of us eagerly anticipating the show. Not only were we excited to see one of our idols and influences, but we had reason to believe that we might actually find ourselves up on stage with them before the night was through!

    See, we had sent a cassette tape of ourselves performing our own highly spirited, if less-than-flawless version of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, part II" to the band's (management? fan club? honestly, it's been too long to remember) a few weeks before. Having heard absolutely nothing in response, we somehow took this as a sign that at the very least, Robert, Adrian, and Tony must have not only listened to it, but liked it so much that they were almost certain to interrupt the show and ask "would the lads who sent us that marvelous tape please report to the stage?"

    Where do young people get such silly ideas?

    At any rate, we enjoyed the hell out of the show, despite reality so rudely interrupting.

    Thanks for all the great music you’ve given us over the years, Adrian. We really appreciate it.

  5. As the years go by, the guitarist I'm influenced by seems to change. But I always go back to a chosen few. Alex Lifeson, Steve Howe, Jimmy Page, Robert, and, well, of course Adrian.
    Hearing Crimson and the Twang Bar King album in the early 80's was a revelation and a justification of my desire to not only make music on a guitar, but also make NOISE.

  6. oh yeah, and by the way, I have the pick you used at the TLA in Philly to play 3 of a Perfect Pair. I'm hoping you don't need it back...

  7. Three great guitar icons and unique styles you mention there Adrian. To this day, nobody else can match the way Hendrix could make a melody out of his chords by picking out the individual notes and adding rhythms within the structure. Frusciante comes close. It's a style that puts the music and the heart first and above all. Jeff Beck talks and sings with the instrument. A very intimate style that reveals your personal voice in the guitar as an extension or your thoughts and feelings. Very unique thoughts and expressions, so no-doubt fitting with your occasional Lone Rhino persona. Fripp has always been more cerebral in his playing - so much like his personality as well. Thoughtful and planned out, with occasional diversions that briefly take you down a road you don't expect and reveal some personal part of him that makes you briefly believe he is close to letting go, only to realize that it was all just a tease - a well thought out and planned tease to trick you into thinking he was letting go. Three great and very different styles with these players, and it's easy to see your playing has a bit of all of those elements at various points of your great career.

  8. Adrian, Love the Anecdotes....Jimi and Jeff have long been favorites of mine as well. I wish I had seen Jimi live but I was only 9 at the time, another favorite of mine is Todd Rundgren, maybe not considered by many, I always enjoy his playing both studio and he can burn it up live. thanks for all the great music!

  9. I remember sitting around with high school buds and marveling at the guitar work on Disipline. I couldn't fathom playing like that. For me it was B.B. King. He played Willie Nelson's "Night Life" at the Ritz in NYC one night and I just cried like a baby. As I got better I began to realize that with some work I could emulate Robben Ford. Belew? Never. It's not in me, but it sounds great.

  10. I hear you.

    Like Jeremy Jacobs a few posts up, my inspirations are bassists. I won't bore you with the list and why each player is on it, except for Bob Nyswonger - from whom I learned dedication and perseverance. It was a Bears gig at the Antenna in Memphis, late 80's I believe. It was Bob's birthday and after you led the crowd in a rousing version of "Happy Birthday" you annouced that Bob also had the flu. He looked the part, too...sweating like a whore in church and very pale. But he wrangled that electric upright like there was nothing he would rather be doing.

    The last gig I played was outdoors in the sleet. Part of me wanted to pack it in. The other part thought of Bob and, despite the ice landing in my ears, I rocked on and had the time of my life.

    Feel free to pass that, and my thanks, along to him if you get the chance.

  11. Beck, definitely, but also Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, and Gary Lucas. Beasts, each and every one.

  12. Beck = feeling
    Hendricks = flair
    Fripp = precision

  13. Adrian, I've got to say, I love the blog...the anecdotes are priceless and seem a great way to demo a book!

    Jeff Beck sawing your there a better compliment?

    After seeing the myspace video "Intro to AB", I wonder if you'd like to check out the articles at my new blog, in particular: "Another Girl Singer In Heat", which develops your ideas about present pop music.


  14. Thanks so much for this blog, Adrian, it is a joy.

    I was truly glad to read that you and Jeff are friends... he is one of my eternal favorites...