Even the greats get inspiration from somewhere. For most guitarists, the seeds were planted early in life, when they first heard the six-string hero who would shape how they played and change their life forever. Over the years, Classic Rock has talked to many of the world’s greatest guitarists about the fellow players who inspired them to pick up the instrument in the first place, from Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and AC/DC’s Angus Young to the likes of Metallica‘s James Hetfield, ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons and fretboard wizard Steve Vai. Here’s what they all had to say.
Slash (Guns N’ Roses)
Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones had the biggest influence on me without me even knowing it. My favourite Stones records were Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. Those three were major to me cos I was exposed to those records as a kid when they first came out. Mick Taylor played on a couple of those records and went on for a couple more. As I got older and started playing guitar I always gravitated to his sort of style. People always mention Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and Angus Young – all the obvious ones – but there’s guys like Mick Taylor and Joe Walsh that were as important. Mick Taylor had this really cool, round-toned bluesy sort of thing that I thought was really effective. Great rock guitar.
Angus Young (AC/DC)
“Everyone always used to rave about Clapton when I was growing up, saying he was a guitar genius and stuff like that. Well, even on a bad night, Chuck Berry was a lot better than Clapton ever will be. Rock music has been around since the days when Chuck Berry put it all together. He combined the blues and the country