Legendary (Must Know) Guitar Influences

In this post I'll be discussing a group of FIVE guitarists who made a big impact upon me very early on. Each of these guitarists were introduced to me when I was still quite young. It was way before I was exposed to the likes of; Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, or Ritchie Blackmore. These players were the ones from the very beginning. And, they formed a direction for my playing that took hold of me for years into the future...


I learned about these guitar players from a whole bunch of different sources; i.e., teachers, friends, older guitar players that I would jam with, musicians I would talk music with, people who worked in record stores - I would visit as a kid, as well as, from different books and magazines.

These guitar players were innovative and well known by my older peer groups; they played differently and they had a sound that was unique for their era. The players I’m going to discuss all come from a period of years that spans from the 1930’s out to the 1950’s.

I hope that perhaps some of these classic guitar players from years gone end up as new to you, and that they perhaps turn out to inspire you, just like they did for me.

The first player I want to name is; “Charlie Christian.” I can remember telling the owner of a small record store in my hometown that I played guitar, and he asked me if I ever tried playing any “Charlie Christian” songs… I said, “Charlie who?”

He handed me an old 7” single (we used to call them a 45) and he said go home and try to learn how to play like this. It was a piece called “Profoundly Blue.” It was a very simple melody, but to me it was my first exposure to what a “Jazz Guitarist” was supposedly doing, and it didn’t seem too difficult.

Charlie's, guitar playing sparked an interest in me for basic guitar melody, and it wound-up piquing my thoughts about these fairly basic sounding jazzy melody lines.

Years later I would discover that Charlie was also a guitar innovator. He was the guy who started playing amplified guitar as a single-note melody line player. In the 1930’s he took a Gibson ES-150 along with a Gibson amp and played "amplified guitar" with a band-leader named “Al Trent.” Audiences were pretty taken a-back by both his skill and by his loud amplified guitar sound.

The next player I want to mention comes from the 1950’s era, and it’s none other than the legendary “Chuck Berry.”

When I look back on all my past years of guitar practice, it seems that Chuck Berry’s song “Johnny B Goode,” was one of those “Must Learn,” guitar songs that every kid in my neighborhood (who had a guitar), was trying to learn how to play properly.

It wasn’t until years later (after I kept listening and listening) to all of the subtle sounds of that intro guitar lead from Johnny B Goode, that I finally felt I really was actually playing it note for note perfectly.

It was a tough guitar part for to learn back then. I was learning it in the early 80’s. We had no TABs and no computers, just vinyl records to go by and that’s it. So, learning parts perfectly was a real challenge.

Sometimes it would take weeks to even just save up enough money to buy a single, or find somebody who you could borrow the album off of. But, one thing was for sure, Chuck Berry was a rock guitar innovator. In fact his song “Maybelline” became one of the first rock and roll songs to break through to white audiences.

Next, I want to mention, “Bo Diddley.” My first exposure to the 12-Bar Blues jam. When I was a very young teenager I’d often spend Saturday’s at my friend’s house and we’d try playing songs with his Dad and his neighbor who was a drummer.

One day a relative of his neighbor showed up and asked us if we knew how to play, “Before You Accuse Me – Bo Diddley.” He kept saying it’s “just a 12-bar Blues.”

But, the thing was - at that age, I didn’t even know what a 12-bar Blues was. Never mind not having a clue who “Bo Diddley” was.

So, that song (which also happened to have been famously done by CCR in 60’s and by Clapton in the 1980’s), was my first introduction to the 12-bar blues! Plus, the licks in it (along with the phrasing of it) really stuck with me for a very long time afterward.

Next up I want to mention, “BB King.” The first time I heard BB's guitar playing - my first thoughts were on how clean he seemed to play notes. I was used to listening to Blues players that had a much more raw /dirty /gritty style, but BB King was really different and he made an impression on me right away because of how perfect his notes sounded.

Another thing that also intrigued me about BB King, is that one of my first guitar teachers explained to me that BB King was one of the very first guitar players that pioneered string bending and rich deep vibrato.

I remember that I wasn’t very good at either one of those techniques back then, so I started to try and play a lot of leads done the way BB King played them, (to try and get my bending and my vibrato to sound better). The song I can remember (my guitar teacher back then getting me to learn) was BB’s, “Three O’clock Blues.”

That intro was something that I worked on to try and make sound like his vibrato and bends, but somehow it seemed like I could never actually sound like BB King no matter how hard I tried.But, really, who can sound just like BB King!

The final guitarist I wanted to mention is the man who performed the track that every guitar player in my neighborhood wanted to learn how to play back in the day... And, that was the, “Peter Gunn” theme.

That riff was the biggest thing going when I was a kid learning guitar. And, whether it was my friends, or my parents or relatives, it seemed that at some point I’d get asked to play the, “Peter Gunn,” theme.

This riff was actually written by Henry Mancini, for the American Private Eye TV Show of the same name. But for me (as a kid growing up playing guitar), I’ll always think of guitarist, “Duane Eddy” when it comes to that theme music.

In my parents basement, we had the old vinyl album for this song played by Duane Eddy (I remember it, said “Duane Eddy and the Rebels – In Person”) and the Peter Gunn song was the first track on side one!

For years, I (of course) thought that this was one of Duanes' songs! Mainly because of that album. Overall, his guitar technique and his flashy style was definitely unique and he had the hits to prove it because back in the 50’s and 60’s Duane Eddy was the biggest selling instrumentalist of his day!

Well, hey, thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at CreativeGuitarStudio.com.

My step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses will cover exactly what you need to know, along with how to be able to move forward and become the best guitar player that you can be.

I've worked on these courses since 1992 and all together they're the best guitar program that you'll ever find. The courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense.

I look forward to helping you further at CreativeGuitarStudio.com ...Until next time - take care and we'll catch up again on the next post. Bye for now!



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