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The Edge is not on the White Page
April 7, 2011 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Who would you see as a seminal guitar player in the early to mid eighties? Totally frivolous question!

So, some friends and I recently, belatedly, watched the documentary It Might Get Loud. It depicts guitarists from three generations, Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, while they talk about their instrument and how they became musicians. Man, if the electric guitar has ever meant anything to you, go and watch it. But I digress.
All of us felt that The Edge really isn't that good a guitar player, and he admits that much in the docu, seminal though his sound may have been. But we couldn't come up with a good replacement, so here's where you guys come in: which other guitar player shaped the sound of the mid-eighties and could have been in that movie?
posted by gijsvs to Society & Culture (62 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eddy Van Halen, maybe. He was on the leading edge of the mainstream metal vanguard, and Eruption is as 80s guitar wankery as you can get.
posted by The Michael The at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2011


Wait, that came out in 1978???
posted by The Michael The at 1:31 PM on April 7, 2011


Mark Knopfler.
posted by Shohn at 1:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Slash.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 1:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Johnny Marr?
posted by scody at 1:34 PM on April 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Randy Rhodes.
posted by COD at 1:35 PM on April 7, 2011


Prince.
posted by xil at 1:36 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was gonna say Johnny Marr or maybe Andy Summers.
posted by Clustercuss at 1:36 PM on April 7, 2011


Lindsey Buckingham
posted by car01 at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2011


Johnny Marr, Johnny Marr, Johnny Marr.

Well, maybe also Billy Zoom and Peter Buck.
posted by bakerina at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lee Ranaldo
posted by mr_roboto at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bob Mould and/or Andy Summers. If anything, Andy Summers is The Edge with a bunch of exclamation points, so he'd be the cleanest swap-out.
posted by COBRA! at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Johnny Marr seems like a good choice, being of the right era, British, decent guitarist, with some indie cred, and not dead... But keep em coming!
posted by gijsvs at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2011


Early 80's? Stevie Ray Vaughn.
posted by bonehead at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


As far as influence goes, Johnny Marr, Peter Buck, and Bob Mould.

As for personal preference, D. Boon.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd have to say Stevie Ray as well. I can't think of another guitarist from that time that captured my attention the way he did.
posted by tommasz at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2011


Oh, Peter Buck, absolutely!!
posted by scody at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2011


Eddie Van Halen, definitely.

(As much as I prefer Johnny Marr, who was much more original, Eddie Van Halen was the guitarist of the early eighties.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:53 PM on April 7, 2011


Let me, as a Peter Buck fan, argue against him. If you're DQing the Edge on not being a badass shredder, Buck has to go out in the same bathwater-basin. I love his sound, but he's really, really not a technique guy... like the Edge, he's just really good at working his niche within the context of his band.
posted by COBRA! at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry for babysitting, I'm enjoying this.
I like Bob Mould too -- for starting the supercharged guitar wave that birthed Dinosaur Jr et al., and Peter Buck for the jangle.

Re: the metal references: I know the eighties were the metal decade, but that seems to have remained a niche (at least from a European perspective) and hence I hesitate to apply the sticker "seminal"... I don't know, maybe they just couldn't afford Eddie.
posted by gijsvs at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2011


Nthing Johnny Marr. Mentioning Robert Fripp: he had been around before, obviously, but his influence around that time was pretty intense.
posted by trip and a half at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2011


What, no Yngwie Malmsteen?
posted by adipocere at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eddie Van Halen played the most well-known guitar solo of all time. He's not some obscure shadow-dweller.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2011


Alex Lifeson probably should be in the discussion.
posted by troywestfield at 2:03 PM on April 7, 2011


I remember hearing a very similar discussion recently (probably on Sound Opinions) which mentioned Ricky Wilson of the B-52's. I thought this was pure silliness, until they isolated some of the guitar from Rock Lobster. Hurts my fingertips just thinking about it.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ricky Wilson was indeed amazing and criminally underrated.

Oh! Moore/Ranaldo?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:08 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Personal left-field choice: Vini Reilly
posted by neroli at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, if the criterion is being able to make a guitar jump through flaming hoops of awesome and making every wanna-be guitarist hacksaw off their fingers in despair at ever being able to play that well:

Richard Thompson
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Steve Vai? Not a fan but my guitar-playing boyfriends always were.
posted by victoriab at 2:15 PM on April 7, 2011


Robert Quine is better than everyone listed on this page. Seriously, they're all good, but he could eat them for breakfast. I can't right now, but you should run out and find some clips of Robert Quine playing on Youtube, particularly when he worked with Lou Reed in the early 80s. He's fantastic.
posted by koeselitz at 2:18 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mark Knopfler. Andy Summers. Eddie VH. Steve Vai, Yngwie. Geez, a thousand covers of Guitar Player magazine are going through my head right now.

Perhaps Alex Lifeson as well.
posted by chookibing at 2:22 PM on April 7, 2011


Ranaldo -- yeah, I thought about him before. Not sure if he counts as "one generation after Jimmy Page" being only 12 years his junior, but with lasting influence, certainly.
A good guitar player IMO does not necessarily play 20 notes per second (though technical skill helps) but catches me by his playing. If that's one motherfucker of a note, good. The Edge has always seemed somewhat limited that way.
Quine fits the bill, thanks for bringing him up koeselitz, but he's dead so could not have been in the movie.
posted by gijsvs at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2011


Eddie van Halen. You could debate about skills and put of lists of who is "better" (Satriani? Vai?), but in terms of impact, flair and innovations there is no one equal. I hate the frat rock that Van Halen put out, but the guitar work is flawless.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:24 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course Johnny Marr, before he went Electronic.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:24 PM on April 7, 2011


koeselitz wins. makes a great point about being at the top of one's form during the period in question, but influence?

(And on preview, swordfishtrombones sort of wraps it up as far as the specific question.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2011


Another for Mark Knopfler, I love his more recent stuff but some of those Straits riffs are quintessential 80s for me.

Then again Master of Puppets came out in '86 and there's some signature Kirk Hammet there...

I caught that documentary a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it, wished there was more of it with loads more musicians.
posted by xqwzts at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2011


Richard Thompson. Dave Alvin. Dave Edmunds. Stevie Ray Vaughn. Brian Setzer. Danny Gatton. Yeah, not metallish or Van Halen-y, just good solid blues/rockabilly/every other style (at least in Thompson's case)...the blues and rockabilly revival in the late 70's-early '80's brought a lot of superb stylists out of the woodwork and we're all the better for it.
posted by motown missile at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2011


Seminal in the sense of the true definition - influencing a huge swath of younger players? Yeah, Johnny Marr, but Dave Gregory, while not a big public name, has certainly turned the ear of pretty much all the brit-pop and power pop players of the 90's & Aughts. Check out how many younger bands name-check TC in the big influence column.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Robyn Hitchcock and Kimberley Rew gave you indie rock guitar.
posted by scruss at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This should satisfy the Smiths fans.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


*XTC*
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:31 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guitar + 80s = Slash
posted by emd3737 at 2:48 PM on April 7, 2011


and not to derail but I thought Jack White was a weaker choice than The Edge- I do love Jack White but he's much more of an all-around musician and generally not renowned as a guitarist. But then I couldn't really think of a seminal guitarist from this past decade.
posted by emd3737 at 2:52 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I've been thinking about this discussion and guitar playing and music from that era, and one thing that's really missing from this discussion -- and one thing that really did help form and inform guitar music at the time -- is the chicks. Cases in point:

- Poison Ivy
- Joan Jett

and of course,

- Chrissie Hynde.

[Delete with prejudice (heh) if a total derail, but these people are a part of what I think of when I think guitar of the early '80s.]
posted by trip and a half at 2:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe Satriani isn't really influential in the music that he has made, but many of his students have been influential (Steve Vai and Kirk Hammet are two that have already been mentioned in this thread.) It's a different kind of influence, but significant I think.
posted by Quonab at 3:13 PM on April 7, 2011


Greg Ginn

Fast Eddie Clark
posted by Max Power at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2011


Awww, I can't believe I forgot to mention Poison Ivy. *smites forehead*
posted by bakerina at 3:50 PM on April 7, 2011


OK, if we have Joan Jett, we have to have Lita Ford.
posted by Put the kettle on at 4:15 PM on April 7, 2011


"... which other guitar player shaped the sound of the mid-eighties and could have been in that movie?"

The next time you hear pinch harmonics from someone you think is a guitar hero, thank the spirit of Roy Buchanan, even though he couldn't have been in that documentary, having sadly died, in 1988, at the age of 48. Also in the dead-by-2008-but-would-have-been-great-because-of-contributions-still-being-copied-in-the-mid-80s category is former Who bassist, John Entwhistle. But, Bert Jansch, John Renborn, Jim McCarty, Jorma Kaukonen and Les Paul, himself, were all still kickin' and giggin' in 2008, and any of them would have made a far better contributor to that documentary than either the Edge or White, although including them, in replacement of White, might have broken the whole "generational" thing. Stacking White up against Les Paul, in place of the Edge, talking about either musical or technical innovation, would have been particularly ugly, I suppose.

But I'd have particularly loved to see Les Paul talking to the older, wiser Jimmy Page, if Page would have still showed up. So many rockers bought copies of Paul's signature instrument, yet never understood a damn thing about how Les Paul played it, recorded it, or thought about it, in his later years; would have been great to see Paul talk about all that with Page.
posted by paulsc at 4:35 PM on April 7, 2011


No love for the brothers Reid of Jesus and Mary Chain?

Also, I can't believe I'm the first to mention Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction. I know he's managed to kill off whatever virtuoso guitarist mystique with his unfortunate choices in women and facial hair, but JA was pretty seminal.
posted by patnasty at 4:37 PM on April 7, 2011


Some good picks.
What about Joey Santiago (Pixies)?
posted by brevator at 5:13 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Mark Knopfler has an extraordinary ability to make a Schecter Custom Stratocaster hoot and sing like angels on a Saturday night, exhausted from being good all week and needing a stiff drink." -- Douglas Adams
posted by kirkaracha at 5:41 PM on April 7, 2011


Ry Cooder
posted by bjgeiger at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2011


Neal Schon

posted by droplet at 7:09 PM on April 7, 2011


Prince, particularly on rhythm guitar. Though he had the obvious Santana/Hendrix style theatrics, his early 80s work was definitive in modernizing the James Brown (well, Jimmy Nolen, Catfish Collins, et. al) rhythm guitar chickenscratch sound not only formed the backdrop to the monumental Minneapolis funk scene, straight though Janet Jackson's career in the early 90s. It also influenced the atmospheric and rhythmic choices that Timbaland, the Neptunes and pop acts from Britney to Justin to Gaga to Robyn are still mining.

It depends if your question is about a guitarist's role in being seminal to other guitarists, or to pop music production in general, but I can't imagine anyone who was playing prominent guitar from 1982 to 1984 who had bigger impact. The only other guy on tour in 1985 who sold any tickets and played any guitar was Springsteen, who's great but obviously not in this category.
posted by anildash at 8:04 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It depends if your question is about a guitarist's role in being seminal to other guitarists, or to pop music production in general, but I can't imagine anyone who was playing prominent guitar from 1982 to 1984 who had bigger impact.

You're right about Prince, but there was another very prominent guitarist who was at his peak between 1982 and 1984. Just sayin'!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:20 PM on April 7, 2011


Ok, so it's 1977 and not 80s, but Uli John Roth's work on Sails of Charon by the Scorpions is a seminal bit of metal butt-rock.

I can't help but laugh at all the musical cliches in the song itself, but the guitar work is amazing.
posted by swngnmonk at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2011


In the movie It Might Get Loud, Page refers to the Edge and Jack White as "Strong character guitarists." While The Edge might not be considered a virtuoso, he's *very* effective in context, and instantly recognizable.

A second mention for Randy Rhoads, who was hugely influential given how short his career was.

Other notable guitarists not mentioned so far & from the general period: George Lynch, Jamie West-Oram, Neil Giraldo, and Zakk Wylde.
posted by and for no one at 9:44 PM on April 7, 2011


Steve Stevens... Billy Idol's guitarist.
posted by ambient2 at 10:06 PM on April 7, 2011


Adrian Belew

(Sorry about the ad. This lineup of this band completely smoked.)
posted by Grangousier at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, how did we all forget Belew? Absolutely - he kind of re-re-defined the guitar ala Hendrix in the 60's. Zappa -> Bowie -> Remain in Light (one of the most stylistically influential albums of the 80s) -> Discipline. Amazing career arc. His solos on Remain In Light really define the word "seminal."
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


EVH is the definitive answer.
posted by tremspeed at 11:16 AM on April 8, 2011


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