Andy R's favourite guitarists
Pete ShelleyBuzzcocks. For the machine-like guitar break in 'Autonomy' which goes somewhere else entirely by the end, and lots of other great ideas, tunes, and noises.
Tom HermanOriginal guitarist in Pere Ubu. I think about guitar playing in visual terms mostly, abstract shapes, and he's like the Mondrian of guitarists. Whenever I get bored with playing, I listen to him and remember you can still be fresh even with the same old six strings.
Sterling MorrisonVelvet Underground. A big fan of Steve Cropper of Booker T and the MGs, which is where he gets those pretty flourishes in songs like 'Here She Comes Now' and ultimately beautiful solos like the one in 'Pale Blue Eyes'. Then there's his incredible choppy rhythm playing ('What Goes On' on 1969 Live), which thousands of guitarists have copied.
Larissa StricklandLaughing Hyenas. An awesomely rocking band from the 80s. She was very unassuming-looking, but could cut through steel with her guitar playing. They came to the UK only once, playing support for Killdozer at Subterania. After 15 minutes their amps caught fire and they had to stop.
Nile RodgersChic. Just an amazing, unique sound which is a long way from the way I play, but has a similar clipped, spare shape to it. I love his guitar on 'Spacer' by Shiela & B Devotion best.
Clare LemmonThe endlessly inventive, dexterous, and frighteningly precise guitarist/singer with Sidi Bou Said. They had a kind of icy front to them, but I would always get drawn in. Often watched Claire play and wondered, how does she do all that and sing too? Mind you, I never learned properly, so maybe I'm easily impressed. But she always plays these intricate melodies which are never about showing off, or following obvious or clichéd patterns, always about some kind of intangible feeling.
Robert FrippLess for his own various bands and projects than for his playing on records by Brian Eno, John Cale, David Bowie ('Heroes') and the Roches. I did love his band from around 1980, the League of Gentlemen, though. They were much more powerful live than the album suggests.
Link WrayNothing ever categorised as grunge or garage rock has ever beaten this guy for sheer primitive grimy power. 'Rumble' is the prototype for Dick Dale and for every other exciting rock instrumental ever. He recorded the original version on a broken amp halfway up a hotel staircase, supposedly, though I've never heard it, but the version on all the comps is menacing enough. He was told to stop singing because he only had one lung, so he concentrated on instrumentals, but he still sings sometimes even today as far as I know.
Pat SmearGuitarist with the Germs, who later (much later) played with Nirvana and the first line-up of the Foo Fighters. The Germs were a super-fast razor-cutting LA punk band whose album (produced by Joan Jett) I bought for £1.50 in the early 80s - American punk was unfashionable then - and have played over and over ever since.
Bo DiddleyListen to 'Mona' and tell me it's not one of the weirdest things you've ever heard. Shaky one-chord riff, wailing vocal, tub-thumping percussion, spooky reverb - it must have sounded like it was from another planet when it came out. You can draw a straight line from that through the Velvets, Suicide (no guitars, I know, but it's the same sound), and other left-field explorers, to Electrelane.
Jonathan RichmanFrom the Modern Lovers through to now. 'Someone I Care About' early on is all anxious clang, then much later there's things like the beautiful, unaccompanied solo on (I think) 'A Mistake Today For Me' which is pure simple melodic pleasure. I love it all. 'Roadrunner' must be the most copied riff in music apart from 'Louie Louie'.
East Bay RayAmerican punk was frowned upon in the UK music press in the late 70s. The concensus was that, as John Rotten put it, "the Yanks don't get it." Anyway, by 1979 punk in general was considered passe. There were too many copycat bands, wannabe Sex Pistols clones, and there was a lot more interesting music coming out of the post-punk and soul scenes.
But the Dead Kennedys were never just a punk band. Their music isn't just fast and noisy, it's often weird and illogical, and intricate (in a non-prog way). East Bay Ray's guitar playing is like surf-meets-Bach. It's rarely obvious, always fresh, often surprisingly pretty. And fast. How he does what he does at that speed beats me.
Billy ZoomRead about Billy.