The below article (which I have re-typed in italics) was written by Brad Tolinski and it appeared in the Guitar World issue of September 1989.
When Poison colleague Bret Michaels was asked to suggest an appropriate alternative career for the flamboyant C.C. DeVille, he immediately replied: “C.C. is obnoxious, so he’d be a great game show host.”
C.C. DeVille, I remember was the winner of the Worst Guitarist Polls in the Guitar mags back in the late eighties and early nineties. When guitar playing got exposure via Shrapnell Records, a new audience niche was born. I called that niche, the Guitarist Elite. This new niche hated guitarists like Mick Mars, C.C. DeVille, Scotti Hill, and many others from successful hard rock bands, as they where too sloppy and too safe (always referring to the Pentatonic scale). The funny thing here is that this same elite revered Ace Frehley, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other players that also had strong roots with the Pentatonic scale.
GW – Who are your favorite guitar players?
Jimmy Page. Not because he’s trendy at the moment, but because when I was eighteen I thought he sucked. I had to mature as a player to really appreciate him. Youth never understands nuance or phrasing. I initially hated all the great guitarists. The local players would say, “Dude, listen to this.” They’d play some Page or Hendrix, but I wasn’t able to comprehend it. I wanted to hear speed. When you’re young you approach things from a different perspective. There’s peer pressure to always burn and your emotional thing isn’t very developed.
I will admit that when i was starting off, I couldn’t get into Hendrix and Page. Growing up in the Eighties, I loved the hard rock / glam scene. At that time it was all about Warren DeMartini, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Eddie Van Halen, Mick Mars, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Sykes and David Mustaine (I actually like Megadeth first before i liked Metallica, and that was courtesy of Mega). I didn’t get into Page and Hendrix until 1993. That was when the Labels abandoned the eighties scene in favour of grunge. I took that as a cue to delve deeper into the Seventies.
My next major influence would have to be Jeff Beck. “Because We Ended As Lovers” off Blow By Blow is the pinnacle of confidence on a guitar. It’s a brilliant example of the guitar as an emotional medium.
To be honest, C.C. is spot on here. Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow album was another album that I explored in the nineties. I remember reading a lot of interviews from Slash, where he talks the world of Jeff Beck. Then he appears on Blaze Of Glory from Jon Bon Jovi. Then he was set to appear with Guns N Roses on the song Locomotive, but didn’t because of a cymbal crash sending him partially deaf for a while. I was interested and i wasn’t disappointed. Try telling a current Metalcore guitarist that can sweep over eight strings and play a million tapped notes a minute to go and give Jeff Beck a listen.
Jimi Hendrix was amazing because he destroyed all conventional knowledge of what it meant to play guitar. We all tend to play it safe. If someone says a song is in A, we immediately jump to a familiar scale in that key. Hendrix didn’t think that way, he just followed his own vision. My favorite cut by him is Little Wing.
Again, my nineties “Seventies Boot Camp” began with Jimmy Page. Hendrix was next. Clapton was third. Beck was fourth. Tommy Bolin was fifth. Paul Kossoff was sixth. I was already aware of Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ace Frehley. They where the big three for me originally. Now it involves so many other great guitarists/songwriters like Steve Lukather from Toto, Ted Nugent, Neal Schon, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and so many other’s.
I first heard Little Wing when Skid Row covered it. Then I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version. I liked the little differences between each. Nothing can compare to Hendrix’s version. Even the vocal line is sorrowful. You can feel the sadness and the hope all rolled into one.
If guitar playing has turned into an athletic event, then Eddie Van Halen is the Olympic champion – he lit the flame. Speed is a great thing to have when you need it and something I’m always trying hard to develop, but Edward is the master at using it properly. You’d have to be a fool to deny his influence on every rock player in this decade. Eddie saved Rock N Roll. In 1979 music was starting to head towards synthesizers and skinny ties, and Van Halen came out and made it very chic to play guitar. He’s still the greatest. You hear kids saying he’s not good anymore, but they can’t appreciate what a good songwriter he’s turned into.
This is true. Rock N Roll was always in the scene, buried with the coming of disco and ignored with the movement into new wave. Van Halen made it cool again to be a rock band. They had the stiff middle finger raised and we all wanted to be part of that attitude. They paved the way for the eighties destruction that was too come.
Another major influence was a guy named Lee Pickens who played with a band called Bloodrock in the early Seventies. He was way ahead of his time. It was lucky for me that my brother bought their record or I would have never known about him. My favorite track was something called Cheater. One of the greatest solos of all time.
This is what we want as fans. Musicians telling us their influences. Cheater was on the second Bloodrock album. From the 5.10 mark, Lee lets it burn. Its melodic and its brilliant. The cowboy style yeahs, just add to the climax. Its the like the end of the world. Apocalypse will happen when the song is over. Check it out. Just click on Cheater.
As I get older I understand that the guitar is not about showing off, it’s a conduit for emotion. I’m a stylist, not a size of your penis type player. Playing guitar is about music, it’s not a contest.
The Nineties made me re-evaluate what it is to be a guitar player. When i started playing in the mid 80’s my main focus was rhythm. Then when i picked up the Randy Rhoads Tribute album, my focus initially was on the wonderful RR riffs. Then i started to delve into the leads. The Nineties was a time with no bass player. Due to that I had to adapt the way i write riffs so that i always had a bass note running, so that when we jammed a song, it sounded complete. So the solo breaks ended up turning into riff driven breakdowns.