In the Guitar November 1996 issue I mentioned in a previous post, there is another section called “Rewind/Fast Forward”, that catches up with “guitar veterans” who have new projects in the works, or the section can be used as a one stop shop to check out and see what these guitarists from the past are up to.
So the three “veterans” the magazine caught up with are; Brad Gillis, Jeff Watson and Adrian Vandenberg.
How the mid 90s became so unkind to these kind of players is beyond me?
So Brad Gillis toured with Ozzy during 1982 and was on Ozzy’s “Speak Of The Devil” live album of Sabbath cuts. Night Ranger broke big a year later and suddenly he’s on MTV and trading 64 bar licks with Jeff Watson. This only lasted a short time, as by 1988, Night Ranger was dead.
I purchased his solo album, heard it once and never heard it again, and then Gillis reformed Night Ranger with a new line up only to see it get booed off stage. At this point in time, he had reconnected with Jack Blades with the aim to reform the original Night Ranger.
The interviewer, Greg Pederson asked him the question; can a band who relied on guitar heroics flourish in the 90’s?
Gillis answered with, “guitar solos are history, so who knows how we’ll fit in. But were going to kick butt and try to get a record deal.”
Isn’t it funny how a new breed of young guitarist in the 2000s brought guitar solos back to the masses while the 80’s dudes felt they needed to say something like “guitar solos are history”. Sounds like Gillis is choosing, commercial song writing over being true to himself and it doesn’t work, because Gillis is a guitar player that solos.
Jeff Watson showed the world how easy it was to execute eight finger tapping and it was a technique he learned by pure accident, because all Watson did was to try and figure out a way to play one of Alan Fitzgerald’s keyboard licks on the guitar. So Night Ranger break up in 1988 and Watson gets busy, laying down guitar on Chris Issak ‘s albums, a solo album and the Mothers Army project with Joe Lynn Turner singing.
His solo album showcased his impressive techniques but as he said to the interviewer, “my acoustic playing has gotten critical acclaim but it doesn’t pay the bills”, so back to Night Ranger he want as well, and when the interviewer asked him the same question about the “non-solo conscious society”, Watson answered with, “That’s what Night Ranger is about – guitars.”
Now that’s how you answer that question. And Jeff Watson went back to Night Ranger only to leave and go back and then leave for good. His replacement Joel Hoekstra would also leave to join Whitesnake, which leads me to Adrian Vandenberg.
Adrian Vandenberg back in 1985 was voted as a “Metal God In Waiting” in the same magazine. At that time, the magazine praised him for stretching the neoclassical style, which led to him disbanding Vandenberg, because every other artist started doing it. And in 1986, a certain David Coverdale asked Vandenberg to became his new guitarist, replacing John Sykes in Whitesnake. His moment of achieving Metal God status was at hand.
But it wasn’t to be, because Vandenberg’s guitar playing didn’t grace the “Slip Of The Tongue” album, due to a bizarre hand injury. But in 1996, Vandenberg was finally on a Whitesnake record.
The Whitesnake album, “So Many Tears” mirrored the Blues rock direction of previous Whitesnake albums, as well as his Manic Eden band, which released a superb self-titled album in 1994.
“The sound is rootsier. I even play acoustic slide on an open tuned song called “Woman Trouble Blues”. There are very few guitar overdubs on the new Whitesnake album and on a couple of times we didn’t even put a rhythm guitar underneath the solos.
And while Vandenberg was committed to Whitesnake, there was talk of a collaboration with John Waite in the future. But Vandenberg finished up with Whitesnake and went into hiatus, for almost 15 years until Vandenberg’s Moonkings brought him back into the public eye.
There was one more special interview with Vinnie Vincent and that one deserves a separate post.