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Alvin Lee – Gone Home

March 8th, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor
By now I’m sure you’ve heard, another rock legend has joined the band of angels. The great blues/rock guitarist, Alvin Lee, died yesterday  (March 6th) at the age of 68 in Spain while undergoing some routine surgery.
What I knew about Alvin Lee is probably what most people knew him for; his American debut at the Woodstock festival with an 11 minute performance of I’m Going Home and some of the most incredible guitar playing anyone had ever heard, earning him the title The Fastest Guitar in the West. And of course, his contribution to the band Ten Years After. But what I didn’t know before today are some noteworthy facts such as, he was just 13 years old when he picked up the guitar and a short 2 years later founded the crux of what would become Ten Years After. His love of music came from his parents who collected blues and jazz records and although he went on to become a rock hero, it wasn’t what he wanted. Alvin Lee simply wanted to be a “working musician” who preferred small venues with that of large stadiums which is ultimately where he had to perform once fame took possession. And he thought of his other most recognized big hit “I’d Love To Change The World” as pop, refusing to ever play it live. Through it all, he tried to stay true to his roots. In doing so, he gave us, the baby boomer generation of rock, our roots. We, never realizing what we believed to be a new British sound, is something he borrowed from American blues artists, and he said so. You might say Alvin showed us where we came from, no small gift in exchange for wanting to change the world. I think he succeeded in changing ours, encapsulating it in a very intimate way….
It’s 1971. I’m in my room back home listening to WNEW. Alison Steele, The Nightbird, spins a new record. Its melancholy bluesiness  rides the airwaves and puts me in another world beyond the boundaries of my postered walls, with no inkling of what lay ahead, the twists and turns of my life’s travels obscured by teenage bliss. The power of a rock superhero is as limitless as the imagination. If I heard that song this minute, that’s where that sound would place me. Right back there in my old room with a grin on my face, because all my old friends, the ones that are gone now, are still there. So, you did it Alvin. You changed my world while I still get to keep it the way I remember it.
Sadly, his April 7th Paris gig with rock legend Johnny Winter will never be. It seems he had a prior engagement with a certain Beatle. If there’s a Ten Years Afterlife, there are two guitars gently weeping with joy. Well, maybe not so gently.
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121212 Concert

December 13th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Having just left work via Madison Square Garden, I arrived at my Long Island home just in time to hear the introduction “The Rolling Stones” and ran to the TV. How do they do it? How, after 50 years, count ’em, do they manage to still stimulate the crowd with the same old songs? They never tire of them and neither do we. Mick Jagger, thin as ever, bouncing all over the stage, while I after a long days work and younger by far, can’t imagine  doing that at his age. He must have a special chemical make up. After Jumpin Jack Flash, they were gone in a flash. Guess we’ll just have to buy the new album, Grrrrrr.
The Who. My, goodness. They stunned with a long set of about 7 songs which included Teenage Wasteland, (goose bumps and tingling of scalp), Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, to name just a few. The touching film backdrop of Keith Moon singing Bell Boy, with Roger Daltry motioning to him in real life was bittersweet. The climax of their entire performance ended with a song sung by Roger to Pete Townsend asking him to join him in a cup of tea, no doubt an old English custom of good will between two old friends. At the end they clasped their arms about one another beaming into the audience, at which point, in typical Who fashion, Pete blurts out “Have a Fu@&*ing Bee-ahh!” No censorship on live TV made it all the funnier.
That’s all I got to see. Will watch the taped version of the rest of the big acts,
Hope you got to catch some of the show held for the victims of  Hurricane Sandy and made your donation in some small way.
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The GIANT

September 30th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Last night’s performance by Neil Young at Central Park’s Great Lawn cannot fall to the wayside without acknowledging the greatness that made the man the legend. The preceding bands, while talented, simply pale in comparison and it’s no wonder they saved the best for last. The song “I wanna walk like a giant on the land” started out simple enough but we all know the man is much more complex; the ending encapsulates his typical grunge style taken to levels of such extreme we literally quivered in the wake of the giant’s footsteps. WOW ! What genius. Neil, while considerably older, has traded his glorious youth for the masterful art of his craft.
Neil, you put the STARS back into our eyes. Thank you. You are a
GIANT.
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Forever Young

September 22nd, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I remember my very first concert. Impressive only in that the sheer number of events attended should have clouded over with time. Not so. At least not entirely. The 70’s produced the best rock and roll of all time and I was there for the ride. It’s one of the rewards for being this old.
An ardent Neil Young fan of his Buffalo Springfield days (no, I’m not quite that old. Just happened to own a copy of Retrospective), I bought and devoured the Harvest album as soon as it hit the shelves. That lonely haunting quality, both in voice and melodic lyrical content,  struck a chord so deep it resonates to this day. So, in 1972, when my new boyfriend clinched tickets launching the Harvest tour, I was elated. We were set to go to Madison Square Garden upon his return ski trip. I playfully told him to “break a leg” as he was leaving, you know that old Hollywood phrase for Good Luck. (I thought it was rather clever at the time.) He glared at me, then promptly returned two days later, leg in cast. The punishment for the unintended arsenic contained in those three little words was the threat of having to miss the concert. There would be no way for us to sit in our assigned seats encumbered with his newly plastered unbendable limb, he explained. The disbelief in my face as I struggled to digest the news prompted him to suggest we go anyway in hope of swapping two end seats with someone. The logic was he could stick his leg out into the aisle (and hopefully avoid tripping anyone in the process). As luck would have it, an obliging couple at the end of the row agreed to trade. Securely seated, we waited in darkness when a spotlight suddenly flared. And then THERE HE WAS! Harvest hat and all, perched on a chair, strapped with his acoustic guitar. Thanks, Brian. I’ll always treasure that moment and uh……sorry about the leg.
Since then, I’ve been to many Neil Young shows. Most notably, another Garden event for all three consecutive nights of the Rust Never Sleeps tour (compliments of Marty. Thank you). And the last time, at the Jones Beach Theater for the Greendale tour. One thing I will say about Neil. He does what he wants and when he wants to. He performed his entire Greendale album amidst occasional (polite) groans and a singular plaintive cry of “Neeee-illlll” from fans eager to hear something familiar. He laughed, joked, and ultimately toyed with us, delighting in every minute of making us wait it out. And when he was goooood and ready, he threw us a bone with a little meat on it saying, “You’re such a well behaved audience” as he rocked into a tune pulled from his bag of tricks. He doled it out in dribs and drabs to his “damage done” admirers.
But my long standing love affair with Neil came to an abrupt end (for about a year) after his 2010 New Yorker interview in which he revealed his distaste for his fans in the audience with the scathing words, “I hate to see them”. Hey! That’s me out there. Who do you think helped to pay for that ranch you’ve been living on for the past forty years? I’m not just any old “ruby in the dust”. I was hugely disappointed.  But then time passed. I forgave. Much as you would  for anyone near and dear. Neil is, after all, a part of my DNA (Do Not Alter). An essential component of my chemical make up. And I get where he’s coming from. When you’re into your groove, the last thing you want to see is someone making an ass out of themselves. It breaks the spell. Just close your eyes, Neil.  It looks great in the photo.
So………..whadayathink? Neil’s soon to be released (“I will never do an”) autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, is much anticipated. Catch his FREE concert Saturday, September 29th at NYC’s Central Park. You need a “free” ticket to get in but have sound will travel and so should you.
B there or B…….S Q U A R E.
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Frank Zappa: Remembering The Eccentric Genius

January 29th, 2012 by Michael Tabor
When I was a teenager and I was just discovering Rock N’ Roll (1975), I stumbled upon a performing artist who actually frightened me. No one told me about him, I just happened to find this “really cool “album cover under “Z” at my favorite record store, Mr. Mucks in Wayne, NJ (loved that little haven of hymn, harmony, and heavy metal). Yes not knowing what to expect I purchased my first avant- guarde album called Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Before actually playing the record, I perused the titles of the songs: ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask’, Toads of the Short Forest, My Guitar Wants to Kill your Mama, Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula ‘ – What is this I said to myself ? Well I played about half of the first side of the album and that was enough for me; my 13-year old little brain was incapable of comprehending this cacophony of cryptic chaos. Before disposing the album for good, I took a look at the picture of Frank Zappa and it sent shivers throughout my body and I very vividly remember thinking – this is the work of the devil; Frank Zappa is Satan incarnate.
Well, I was simply too young to listen to Zappa and I didn’t even bother to discuss my having listened to this, this – whatever it was and I instinctively deposited my listening experience to my subconscious not to be retrieved again until MTV came along and Mr. Zappa released  a song in 1982 entitled ‘Valley Girl’ which featured his daughter, “Moon Unit Zappa.”This tune actually was a big hit in the 80’s and Frank Zappa was actually nominated for a Grammy award coming in at #32 on the Billboard charts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=489pO9q8guA. No I was older – 18, in college and I no longer thought Mr. Zappa was the devil, and I actually liked his music in small doses – here and there. Love or hate him, no one can deny his musical mastery of the guitar and the laundry list of his other extraordinary talents. Frank Zappa was the quintessential modernist, satirist, and one of the world’s most creative and unique cult heroes this country has ever seen.

Frank Zappa has been dead for almost two decades (to be precise, he died December 4, 1993) and if you listen to Frank (his music or interviews) on YouTube you will see he is far from being dated. In fact Frank is more edgy than any performer today – Lady GaGa is outrageous ? Please ! Frank Zappa’s music is not only fresh, his range is simply unparalleled  – from Arabic to jazz, blues and classical chamber music. I can write several volumes on Frank Zappa inasmuch as he was a workaholic (released 60 albums – when did he sleep ?) and he simply eked out a super-abundance of material in his short 52 years of life. As you know WhaDaWeThink is not a site for comprehensive biography so let me just leave you with some fun facts about frank and some cool YouTube Links:
Check out this video of Frank Zappa playing the bicycle (literally) on the Steve Allen Show in 1963. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9P2V0_p6vE
See what I mean, Frank was nuts; his idea of music is as he once said “is just the art of collecting and organizing sounds. “

Frank loved chemistry and he loved making explosives and blowing things up. (No Frank blew things up, not people. Frank was really a very nice man. )

Zappa had four children & he named them – Moon Unit, Dweezil, Emuukha Rodan, and last but not least Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

Frank was a strong advocate of The First Amendment and abhorred censorship of any kind.

Frank was a prodigiously articulate and eloquent speaker. He appeared before the Senate regarding the PMRC (Parents, Music Resource Center, which was an organization run by Tipper Gore aimed at censoring music) and persuasively argued his case. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxB-ZePpS7E
If you see any video of Frank Zappa being interviewed on video -take the time to watch it! If you think Howard Stern is shocking, compelling, and interesting  – well trust me he’s better.

This is a follow up to the previous bullet: Frank Zappa’s words (interviews) were better than his actual music – lol.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ? There are several biographies on Frank Zappa and he’s all over the web if you look for him. I haven’t even scratched the surface so if you want to be entertained, click onto anything featuring Frank Zappa.
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Rush: 1974 – 2112, The Best or Worst Rock Band Ever

January 7th, 2012 by Michael Tabor

Rush – the rock band actually started playing together in 1968 however, they were not yet really Rush until 1974, when perhaps the most important member of the band (believed to be the case by many fans) Neil Peart,  joined vocalist, keyboardist, and bassist – Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, guitarist in the summer of 1974 to form the world’s greatest musical trio. Rush released one Album, the eponymous ‘Rush’ with drummer John Rutsey, which to be fair was not at all a bad album and certainly one can earnestly say that Rutsey was a fine drummer, but Neil Peart he was not. (Oh and 2112, released in 1976, is a concept album and their first among many to come, truly great albums).
This not a biography on Rush which you can find on Wikipedia but rather a declaration of my favorite band of all time – Rush is easily the greatest rock band, group, performance artists, etc. ever or the worst and most pretentious band to come upon the music scene. I, being a die-hard fan since 1976 (release of 2112) believe the former to be true but I certainly have heard the detractors who absolutely loathe Rush. Knowledgeable and well-respected music journalists have hurled some of the most denunciatory opinions; the invective consisting of pretentious, noise, non-commercial, chaotic (Rush is anything but chaotic), “can’t dance to” and more.
The reason for this dichotomy is because the music from Rush is profoundly unlike any other rock band musically and lyrically. Music is a matter of taste and like art; it’s difficult if not impossible to say who is better or who is the best. However, the facts are facts – whether one hates or loves the band, no one can deny that the trio is freakishly talented. Neil Peart is arguably the best drummer ever to pick up a pair of drum sticks, Geddy Lee on the bass is in the same league with John Entwistle, “Flea”, and all the other greats  (Geddy also plays the keys and sings), and finally, though incredibly underrated, Alex Lifeson is far and away the greatest, most diversified guitarist (neck and neck, pun intended, with Steve Howe) there is. (Rolling Stone Magazine recently had a top 100 guitarists issue and Alex Lifeson ranked 98 – laughable !!! The ranking should have been Alex Lifeson and Steve Howe, one and two respectively and #3 could have been Page or Hendrix but the gap between the aforementioned and the other greats is a long way from Lifeson and Howe).
As for the lyrics of Rush, this is where one will hear and read – “pretentious garbage”. This is simply not true. Neil Peart who writes all the lyrics shrugs off the negative comments and will say something akin to (paraphrasing) “Pretentious ? I am not pretending to be anything, I’m simply writing from my heart and the words that come forth are sincerely the way I feel. “Unlike all other rock lyrics, the syntax is precise and perfect, the vocabulary is rich and varied, and the subject matter about which Peart writes is “deep” and profound. The meaning of life, Ayn Rand, freewill and determinism, metaphysics, science, science fiction, existentialism, death, and so much more can be found in the lyrics of Rush music. It is true that though Neil Peart can nail a piece lyrically, he sometimes misses and some songs are not very good (lyrically not musically) and may be cliché-ridden (in the song ‘Countdown’ from the album signals you will hear the passage “the excitement is so thick you can cut it with a knife”) but not unlike any other writer and poet he can write a masterpiece and at times his writing is mediocre or not good at all. The problem I have with the people (the elitist snobs, Ivy-league college professors, etc.) who say the lyrics are pretentious is the notion that just because you have a Ph.D. in Classical studies doesn’t mean you own Homer (pretentiousness is a topic for another blog).  I don’t think Neil Peart even has a college degree but he’s well-read and intelligent and I’m sorry Mr. snobby Shakespearean scholar, he may very well have something fresh and insightful to say.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ? I will be spilling much more ink on Rush in the future. Do you like Rush ? Have you ever heard of Rush – lol…

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Video Killed the Radio Star: Aug. 1, 1981

October 29th, 2011 by Michael Tabor
On Aug. 1, 1981 at 12.01 am a revolution in music was spawned  when MTV, the all music channel,  debuted with the apropos song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the group – The Buggles. Yes, I had just graduated from high school, I was enjoying my last summer before heading off to college, and I was narcotically hooked to MTV.
When one is in college, he or she has a prodigious amount of time on one’s hands – especially during the day (for the first time in a young person’s life). This so-called “free time” is supposed to be filled with earnest study, but more often than not I found myself glued to the TV like Beavis and Butthead (Sorry a digression – I am laughing out loud by virtue of the fact that I am sadly correctly capitalizing the “B”s in Beavis and Butthead; so much for high culture. Actually a decade and a half later Beavis and Butthead would be a hit show on MTV…STOP – another blog) getting my daily fix of MTV.  What was the appeal? What was so great about it? Why did I almost fail out of college because instead of going to class, I was watching MTV.
Well, for me at least there were a couple of reasons: 1) I was a neophyte at guitar [BTW, 30 years later I’m still playing] and I delusively thought I was going to be a rock star. 2) There was nothing like it – EVER before. Music and the pictures, images, and videos to go with it was a new experience. The only other time one was able to see one’s heroes on TV was if you caught “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” (very ‘hippieish” man; besides the cats were old rock n’ rollers and included just the band performing) which aired for an hour bi-weekly and “Saturday Night Live”[again just live performances].
MTV changed music forever and in my opinion for the worse. In the past, before MTV, listening to music conjured up all kinds of personal images and they were mine; subsequently with MTV the performing artist, band, group, etc. imprinted an image[s] for you and the musical experience became prodigiously passive – we became zombies – true couch potatoes. Now every time I hear the song Jump on the radio I don’t fantasize or think of images myself, all I can see is David Lee Roth sporting spandex pants and doing jumping double leg splits and Eddie Van Halen (the coolest dude on the planet with an axe in the ‘80s) playing his red and white signature Fender guitar with his lit cigarette lodged in the nut and headstock (oh and who could forget Eddie blowing smoke rings into the camera). And, of course Madonna in Borderline and her slovenly dressed/gum-chewing/punky/New Wave style and her Latino boyfriend that made her a star beyond anybody’s wildest hankering dream. Which incidentally brings me to my final thoughts and conclusion.
Madonna and especially Bon Jovi would be nobodies had it not been for MTV. What was of paramount importance was “a look” and an image which supplanted the music itself.
So WhadaYaThink ? What do you think? Certainly, there was a lot of creativity and talent involved in the making of the videos. The video was an art in itself .Yes, Madonna and Michael Jackson could dance and Bon Jovi was good-looking but [isn’t] the music important?
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Earth’s Angel

September 27th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor
For those of you who have never heard of Jackie Evancho and her extraordinary voice, you’re in for a real treat. But first, let me provide you with a little background.
The ten year old prodigy hails from Pittsburgh, Pa. Her story begins with a family outing to see the movie Phantom of the Opera. Her mother purchased the DVD and little Jackie began singing the songs around the house. They just thought she had “a nice voice” and enrolled her in a local talent contest. The eight year old held runner up to the winner who was a twenty year old. She then began vocal lessons for just a short period of time. (Keep this in mind when you finally hear her sing). She continued participating in various competitions and was showcased on YouTube before moving on to America’s Got Talent. For the already long list of her credentials (remember , she’s only  ten) go to Wikipedia. She has her own website as well.
Oh, I almost forgot. She also composes her own lyrics, plays the violin and the piano. All this,  while still retaining her sweet little girl charm.
Now…….. You hear this voice. The classical voice of a mature woman. Or perhaps an angel that has fallen from the sky to grace us with a song of such  sweetness and depth of feeling you are moved to tears. But then you see this child, whose facial expressions cannot possibly know such sorrow. Displayed with such tenderness of emotion,  you think,  “She can’t be real”.  Jackie Evancho is nothing less than earth’s angel.
Be prepared to be blown to the heavens.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaQ8zmYoORs
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I Would Rather Die Than Go to Rehab

July 23rd, 2011 by Michael Tabor
Poor Amy Winehouse wasn’t kidding when she sang out the lyrics “I don’t want to go to rehab….”. I knew her inevitable death would happen and happen soon if, she, Amy Winehouse did not get the help she so desperately needed.  She was only 27 years old and she looked like she was 77 (I am not exaggerating one bit as I sadly write this – go ahead and google images of her over the past month or so and you will see the result of a woman poisoning herself to an early death.)
I liked her. I liked her music, I thought the critically acclaimed, and commercially successful hit song “Rehab” was as good as it gets – original and catchy. However, sadly the song was for Amy – too close to home.
Everyone knew Amy was in trouble over the past few months (she was falling down and forgetting lyrics to songs) and her people even cancelled the rest of the tour dates in a fierce attempt to save her life by concentrating on nothing but getting Amy sober. I am no stranger to addiction and getting sober is perhaps one of the most difficult struggles a person will ever face. However, an addict or alcoholic is lucky to have a choice about whether or not to drink (regardless of how difficult it is) a person with terminal cancer does not have this luxury of choice.
Unless a person is an alcoholic or drug addict himself/herself, it is impossible to understand, empathize, or even fathom how agonizing getting sober is. Even though Amy Winehouse had a choice, she was unable to stop just like so many others in her position. So sad.
R.I.P. – Amy Winehouse.
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The Top 9 Greatest Guitarists Ever

January 22nd, 2011 by Michael Tabor

This is my first list blog and I must say one cannot go wrong when it comes to lists. Lists are compelling; I love them, everyone loves them. Usually its top 10 (love you Dave Letterman), top 100, there are also book series’ of i.e. top 501 must see locations, etc., and the 1001 books you must read before you die, etc. and a multitude of others. Usually the online lists are an even and clean number like 10 and 100 and the cutesy 501 and 1001 are in book form. I’m assuming most of the online even lists exists because that’s the way we think; we like these even numbered solid digits like 10 (as a word of note, George Carlin, in one of his bits, said The Judeo – Christian religions would have been doomed from the start if they had say the 9 commandments or the 11 commandments – very funny) So I pick 9 perhaps not so pragmatically (because the search engines won’t catch it in title but just in text) but maybe not so bad. I must admit the SEO stuff and the algorithms that are used are beyond me.

So to the list; let me begin by declaring this is my list of  the top 9 greatest guitarists ever(I may have some credibility here too since I’ve been playing the guitar myself for 25 years) and it is subjective, as are all lists of this kind. When it comes to music there is no “better”, it’s a matter of taste. Now there is better when speaking from a strictly technical and level of dexterity standpoint within the same genre of music with the same goals. For example you may fairly compare Eddie Van Halen with Steve Vai because they both play heavy metal and both attempt to play as fast as humanly possible. (hey I love Eddie, he’s on my list as he’s much more than speed; I know see my comments.) Here is the list and note most of guitarists come from the world of Rock n’ Roll and popular music. (I know there are classical guitarists and fingerpickers of whom I don’t know who are extraordinary but ….) Michael Tabor’s top 9 greatest guitarists ever:

  1. Steve Howe – Known mainly for the lead guitarist for Yes. Steve is #1 because there is nothing he can’t do; he has such versatility. And he’s Phenomenal on acoustic and electric in all genres. My favorite song ‘The Clap’ (link may not be visible but it’s here just to the right – hover)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxEJ3K68aqkAlex
  2. Alex Lifeson – Alex is right up here for same reasons. Basically nobody does it better than the man from the trio band – Rush. Here is ‘La villa Stangeiato’(hover to hear) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRjZpC582jA
  3. Jimi Hendrix – The blues on steroids. ‘Voodoo Child” (same hover around)  thttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoAXW30mMAg
  4. Chet Atkins – Nobody does it better – I’m repeating myself but when it comes to fingerpicking…(invisible hyperlink) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsePsTEgiqU&feature=list_related&playnext=1&list=MLGxdCwVVULXdZsUcFpvGMy1SmpnJ7EdGK
  5. Jimmy Page – Amazing blues, the violin bow, Stairway to Heaven, Led zeppelin, need I say more. ‘Heartbreaker” (invisible hyperlink)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvI4ll_59SQ
  6. Eddie Van Halen – Ok Eddie you were the 1st for better or for worst. Who can play as fast as one can humanly play? How many different sounds can one make on a guitar whether it’s music or not? I think Ed’s greatest contribution was making finger-tapping sound awesome. Van Halen also spawned the new heavy metal, shredding, and the unique sound HM adopted. ‘Eruption’  (same – just hover)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_lwocmL9dQ
  7. David Gilmore – Has there ever been another Pink Floyd? The main reason is because of Gilmore’s haunting, powerful, mesmerizing sound. Dave has a sound like nobody else ‘Comfortably Numb’ (invisible hyperlink) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHk6clzLeMM
  8. Mark Knopfler – unique and original fingerpicking with clean sound ‘Sultans of Swing’ (to the right) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo-J1wf2KHc
  9. Duane Allman – Wow! Duane showed the world what slide guitar was all about.(listen to right)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8IqWaCxoBA

Here are 9 immortals and there are hundreds more who belong here too.

So WHADAWETHINK ? Who are your favorite axe men? As I alluded to earlier, is it silly making these lists? This is a lot of fun. Endless conversation about who’s better.

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