ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2016 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Billy Gibbons on a fellow guitar player

I thought this was fascinating, being the perspective of one great guitar player on another:
So much has been said about Prince but I do think it’s important to remember that his guitar playing was, I don’t know, just sensational. Tell me how you’d describe it.

Well, to borrow your word, sensational is about as close a description of Prince’s guitar playing as words might allow. I believe that the feeling one was left with, if afforded the luxury of actually seeing Prince perform … we’d be looking for other superlatives. Because it’s almost got to the point of defying description.

You had an interesting encounter with Prince.

It was following the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary celebration [in 2009]. They had a two night grand hurrah at Madison Square Garden and I was invited to perform with Jeff Beck. And following that appearance, I found myself back at the hotel and I wandered off in search of some late-night grub and my favorite 24-hour joint was shut down for unknown reasons. I tiptoed across the street to the Tiger Bar. I was just standing at the front and I was approached by a rather large gentleman and he said, ‘You’re wanted at the corner table.’ And there was Prince sitting all by his lonesome. And I gave him a brief tip of the hat and sat down and said, ‘Hey man, it’s so good to see you.’ He said, ‘It’s so good to see you. Let’s talk about guitar playing.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ And in the next two hours we really dove into the depth of his intent, interest and focus toward technique and tone. I left that evening even more mesmerized than I’d previously been, just knowing the sincerity that Prince kept toward his playing, his performing and his all-around showmanship.

You’re a little bit older, you come from Texas and I’d imagine you first learned about Prince in the early ’80s, when you were both MTV stars.


As you may remember, he began bubbling up without a lot of advance fanfare. There was just this vague knowledge of this new guy on the scene called Prince. And then, of course, we all got our world rocked when “Purple Rain” showed up at the theaters. Even today, I’m struggling to try and emulate that guitar introduction to “When Doves Cry.” It’s just a testament to his extraordinary technique.

Wait. When you say emulate — you mean you try to play it and you can’t?


I continually come back to attempting to piece together each and every one of those segments. And it’s very short. It’s not an extended solo by any means. But the way it is delivered. There’s certainly no way to write it. You’ve just got to dive in and feel it to see if you could come close.
What I find so interesting about these tributes from famous musicians is that they almost precisely echo what I'd heard from so many less well-known musicians around the Minneapolis scene in the early 1990s. Most of you probably never heard about Power of Seven, which was my short-lived effort to improve the music in the game industry, which ended up in little more than a few soundtracks for SSI and Bungie. But the Seven referred to the seven individuals originally involved, one of whom was Mike Koppelman, who engineered, mixed, and mastered Diamonds and Pearls before going on to found Bitstream Underground.

He, and others like the member of The Revolution who recorded a single with Paul Sebastian before we founded Psykosonik, always spoke about Prince and his attention to detail in awed, almost reverential tones. So, I'm not surprised to hear that even a great guitarist like Billy Gibbons was impressed by his knowledge and technique.

This is why I, and others, find it irritating when people dismiss him as being just a pop star. It's like calling Mozart just a piano player. There is both talent and skill that goes into both musical performance and composition, and virtuosos of either are extremely rare. An individual who is a true virtuoso of both is practically a unicorn. Then throw in the voice, the multiple instruments, the engineering, the conceptual sensibilities... it's literally unimaginable to me. I can more easily grasp Julius Caesar or Socrates.

And while one cannot reasonably expect Prince's music to survive the test of time in the manner that Mozart's has, one also cannot say that he did not make the most of the incredible talents he was given. Like everyone else who had anything to do with music in Minneapolis, I am absolutely itching to know what is in that vault. It's been said for literally decades that he was putting his best stuff in there rather than let Warner Bros. have it, and said by some who are known to have actually heard a few of the tracks. And Prince being Prince, the chances are good that quite a lot of it is actually finished work, rather than bits and pieces of various song ideas.

Can you imagine if there is another Purple Rain in there? Or another two or three?

Labels:

65 Comments:

Blogger Dave April 24, 2016 6:52 PM  

Wonder if Billy took off his shades at that table with Prince.

Blogger Michael Maier April 24, 2016 7:02 PM  

With such attention to detail, I'm still trying to figure out why he took slacker broads on tour with him recently. I do not recall the "catchy" name for the band but they were not at all at the skill level he should have had backing him.

Anonymous Jack Amok April 24, 2016 7:12 PM  

Agatha Christie wrote the final Poirot novel in her prime, then locked it in a bank vault until she was in her 80's. Not because she didn't think it was worth publishing, but because she did. She authorized its publication just before she died and so her last published novel showed her at her best.

So I wonder about that vault too...

Blogger Salt April 24, 2016 7:19 PM  

Okay, what did Warner Bros do to piss him off so bad?

Blogger Were-Puppy April 24, 2016 7:28 PM  

I really did ignore him. I heard Purple Rain and Red Corvette or w/e back in the day. I didn't even realize he was guitar player.

Someone put a link to an NFL halftime where he was playing in the rain. Let me tell you, that is a major PITA and he dealt with it like no sweat, which was really cool :P Just that one clip gave me a much greater opinion of the guy.

Billy Gibbons on the other hand, yeah, he's been a long time great :P Don't know if he still does it, but he used to get a particular sound by using a quarter as a pick.

Blogger Dave April 24, 2016 7:37 PM  

Okay, what did Warner Bros do to piss him off so bad?

Typical story. Young artist has some success and grows to believe he's a slave to his contract. He actually re-signed with Warner in 2014.

OpenID paworldandtimes April 24, 2016 7:39 PM  

The outro to "Purple Rain" with those otherworldly falsetto vocals is among the top five in all of rock, right up there with the outro to "Comfortably Numb."

PA

Blogger Sir Thermite April 24, 2016 7:41 PM  

The Super Bowl halftime show was the only exposure I had to him too. So I was a non-fan but still impressed by his live performance of Purple Rain in the rain, and the audience response/participation. Guess I'll have the rent the movie now.

Blogger tz April 24, 2016 7:43 PM  

This is the greatness of the alt-right - I'm not a fan in general, but if there is something great in the vault, I'm certainly interested. Prince, the person, or Prince, the persona is one thing. His product can stand or fall on its own.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 7:47 PM  

After Reagan died the memoirs were finally discovered and people were finally able to learn what a deep thinker he actually was. Postumously... opinions of him had to be completely re-evaluated in light of the new information.

It is possible Prince's actual legacy will be defined by whatever is in the vault.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 7:48 PM  

I'm kind of bummed Porky isn't here to tell us all about why ZZTop sucked.. and none of them could actually play real instruments.

Blogger Escoffier April 24, 2016 8:02 PM  

As someone who played an instrument and gigged a bit something that I noticed is that the things that baffle you are not necessarily the most technically complex, sometimes it's just that somebodies brain works in a different way. For example, I played drums and being a child of the eighties Neal Peart was the man but to this day the one lick I just cannot figure out or wrap my mind around is the intro to Hot for teacher by Van Halen. Yet I could as a rule emulate Peart's stuff which was ten times more complicated. Shrugs.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 8:06 PM  

"For example, I played drums and being a child of the eighties Neal Peart was the man but to this day the one lick I just cannot figure out or wrap my mind around is the intro to Hot for teacher by Van Halen"

well... partially its because Alex fucked up through some of that and was only saved by the internal clock in his head. I've heard that live 5 or 6 times... and he played it differently each time... but every time he got off the beat in there at one point of another... almost like he was just spazzing his way through it.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 8:10 PM  

the intro to When Doves Cry isn't like that. I'm actually certain you could notate it.

Blogger Silly But True April 24, 2016 8:12 PM  

That time when you are a grandmaster in your field, paying tribute with other grandmasters to one of the best, and someone much much younger comes in and shows you all how much you still have left to go... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y

Blogger lowercaseb April 24, 2016 8:47 PM  

Silly But True wrote:That time when you are a grandmaster in your field, paying tribute with other grandmasters to one of the best, and someone much much younger comes in and shows you all how much you still have left to go... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y

Exactly...many musicians can play the song, but Prince can make that guitar weep, sob and wail.

Blogger lowercaseb April 24, 2016 8:47 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger JeffHansen April 24, 2016 8:52 PM  

Prince is the first 'celebrity' death that has touched me, more stories please

Anonymous FWIT April 24, 2016 9:02 PM  

I can't be the only person here weeping for all this fan gurl shit? Vox WTF? Comparing him to Mozart? Please...Keep this type of 'macintosser' level embarrassment to yourself please, and to the 'I never liked his stuff, but now Vox, I see the error of my ways' posters, have some self respect for goodness sake. This is no echo chamber. Love 99.9% of you work Vox.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 9:08 PM  

"For example, I played drums and being a child of the eighties Neal Peart was the man but to this day the one lick I just cannot figure out or wrap my mind around is the intro to Hot for teacher by Van Halen"
Eddie and Alex are virtuosos, IRIC. I agree with you 1OO %.
But Peart is the man. Tom Sawyer and Free Will , That's some bad ass drumming. Plus he is one helluva songwriter and rides Bikes. That makes him one big time winner .

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 9:25 PM  

FWIT
This is Vox's house,remember ? I wasn't one the dead guy's biggest fans, but damn if he was not talented.
But maybe you are one of those fucks that like to crash a party ,pissw on the floor and drop a turd in the puch bowl before somebody gives you a good ol'fashioned ass-whoopin' and throws your ass to the currb to pick out your freshly knocked out teeth from your blood and puke.
Good evening ,fukstik.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 24, 2016 9:34 PM  

Nate wrote:the intro to When Doves Cry isn't like that. I'm actually certain you could notate it.

Just listened to it. The first half sure, but I can't figure out what technique he's using to get the sound for the second half. Maybe it's a sound production thing.

Kudos to the man for putting that together, that riff is worthy of the land of ice and snow.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 24, 2016 9:36 PM  

Can't say I'm a big fan of the rest of the song, but I understand it wasn't made for me.

Blogger Aeoli Pera April 24, 2016 9:43 PM  

Silly But True wrote:That time when you are a grandmaster in your field, paying tribute with other grandmasters to one of the best, and someone much much younger comes in and shows you all how much you still have left to go... https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y

Holy hell, that was some damn fine solo work.

Anonymous LastRedoubt April 24, 2016 9:52 PM  

@Nate

the intro to When Doves Cry isn't like that. I'm actually certain you could notate it.


Maybe, but trust me, you get a GREAT musician, you can't notate the style, the precise way they slide in or out of various notes, etc.

I got to listen to Marvin Doc Holladay shortly before he moved to Ecuador a decade or so back. No, Jazz is not my thing, and yes, he was old. Listening to that, vs recordings of some of the same songs done by other, perfectly competent musicians....

Holy crap.

So yeah, you may be able to write out the sequence of notes, but still simply not be able to replicate the sound and the feel.

Blogger Bernard Brandt April 24, 2016 9:59 PM  

Hey Vox,

Here is a bit of information which you will probably not hear from other sources, but which you might like. A friend of mine by the name of Michael Quercio, who was and is the lead singer of a group called 'The Three O'Clock', told me that he once met Prince back in the '80s. Prince took a liking to the group, and wrote and GAVE (for free) to that group a song, which they of course recorded and sung. I just thought you might want to know that.

Anonymous redsash April 24, 2016 10:20 PM  

Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple's Machine Head still defines rock music.

Stevie Ray Vaughan defines Blues.

Roy Orbison and Ronnie Del Rio remain unmatched.

For story telling see Bob Dylan and John Prine.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 10:23 PM  

"Maybe, but trust me, you get a GREAT musician, you can't notate the style, the precise way they slide in or out of various notes, etc."

That part of it is what makes musicianship so special. I can play a part perfectly... and you can pay a part perfectly... and they will not sound the same.

Not because notation is imperfect... but because musicianship is first and foremost a human endeavor

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 10:30 PM  

ok... if this is the first celebrity death to really hit you... then you didn't listen to enough Johnny Cash.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 10:31 PM  

Prince listened to several greats when he was developing his talents IMO.
Look, he learned from and was influence by some of the best, and he did it his way, I like that.

Blogger Nate April 24, 2016 10:32 PM  

"For story telling see Bob Dylan and John Prine."

Cash.. and Kris Krisofferson.

that said... we forget about him sometimes because there was such a drop off from his prime... but Johnny 99 and Nebraska were some of the best songs I've ever heard.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 10:33 PM  

29. Nate April 24, 2016 10:30 PM
ok... if this is the first celebrity death to really hit you... then you didn't listen to enough Johnny Cash.
AMEN.

Blogger Lazarus April 24, 2016 11:10 PM  

So.....who owns the stuff in the vault??

Blogger Lazarus April 24, 2016 11:11 PM  

Or, maybe more importantly, who has access to the vault?

Blogger Lazarus April 24, 2016 11:22 PM  

redsash wrote:Stevie Ray Vaughan defines Blues.

FFS redsash. Maybe Texas blues. You be a raciss, boy?

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 11:27 PM  

"Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple's Machine Head still defines rock music."
Highway Star.(lights Bic)
"Roy Orbison and Ronnie Del Rio remain unmatched."
Talk about opposite ends. I like both of' em meself.

OpenID nightskyradio.com April 24, 2016 11:30 PM  

"More than anything in my life I wanted to play, but I do not have the gift. I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music." - Maj. Charles E. Winchester

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY April 24, 2016 11:32 PM  

So.....who owns the stuff in the vault??
TEH BANCO.

Blogger LP9 Forever Solidified in Gold! Rin Integra S.I.G. April 24, 2016 11:43 PM  

OT:Missed: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/04/allan-davis/gamers-vs-sjws/

(Nope, the only '7', were we assailed with L7 and we all know how that ended, so I don de 9.)

Excellent post, thank you for the continued coverage. It is awakening and heartening for violin and guitar to not stop playing but to also practice in honor of God and those dearly departed.

Blogger AdognamedOp April 25, 2016 12:00 AM  

I think Prince used a twelve sting electric with the high strings tuned at fifths rather than octaves for the intro solo on WDC.
But I'm not sure.

Blogger AdognamedOp April 25, 2016 12:12 AM  

..Then again it might be an octavizer effect on a 6 string.

Blogger Gordon April 25, 2016 12:17 AM  

Who owns the contents of the vault? Apparently his sister, who lives a few blocks from me. She's had a difficult life, but lately has done better.

He seems to have died intestate, and as his only full-blood living relative, she will inherit.

Anonymous redsash April 25, 2016 12:46 AM  

Laz, SRV was a better guitarist than Hendrix and BB or Alvin King. BB "felt" the blues more but only because he lived more life than SRV got to live.

Anonymous redsash April 25, 2016 12:57 AM  

Nate, Cash's 'Burning Ring of Fire' was not about June Carter but about hemorrhoids.

Anonymous Phero April 25, 2016 1:00 AM  

Prince was a much better master of image than guitar

Anonymous Spartacus xxxxx April 25, 2016 1:18 AM  

jOHN MOSBY wrote:"For example, I played drums and being a child of the eighties Neal Peart was the man...

But Peart is the man. Tom Sawyer and Free Will , That's some bad ass drumming...


No. Slow it down and it's a bunch of technicals strung together. Stewart Copeland. Danny Carey.

Anonymous Your sister's new squeeze April 25, 2016 1:24 AM  

"Or, maybe more importantly, who has access to the vault?"
**********
Not sure, but rumor has it that Geraldo Rivera wants first dibs when they crack it open.

[rimshot]

Anonymous Red Comet April 25, 2016 1:34 AM  

The only Power of Seven piece I'm familiar with is the theme from Marathon 2 Durandal. Great track.

Blogger weka April 25, 2016 1:50 AM  

I'm fairly sure that half of the intro is tapped. Not the first celebrity death: for me it was Rick Mayall.

Blogger Atomic Agent 13 April 25, 2016 2:39 AM  

goo.gl/17fP2p 3:26 into video.

Blogger pdwalker April 25, 2016 2:47 AM  

This is why I, and others, find it irritating when people dismiss him as being just a pop star

This.

I was not a fan of all his music, but Good Heavens could I tell he was fantastically talented. Virtuoso is a word exactly meant for people that incredibly talented. If you have any understanding or appreciation of music at all, it has to be as plain as the nose on your face.

kinda a Prince story - I remember the first time I heard Sheila E's The Glamorous Life on the radio. My first thought about 60 seconds in was "That's from Prince". I discovered later that no only had he wrote it, he did some of the backing vocals and that he discovered Sheila E.

@19 Ok, so you clearly don't get it. Fine. That's your inability, not ours.

Mozart was a musical genius. So was Prince. If you have ears that can hear, you will know.

PS: Thanks for the stories. I knew about the talent, I didn't know about the modesty or dedication. I will re-listen to his albums with that in mind.

Blogger pdwalker April 25, 2016 2:51 AM  

Yes, I think someone posted it before, but just listen to that guitar playing. Listen!

Blogger Floridated April 25, 2016 8:09 AM  

Little known fact: the sound side of Paisley Park floats. It is built so that it has no actual contact with the ground. Talk about attention to detail. To build that in the 80's is just amazing. I guess he used water or oil to keep it suspended from all contact with the Earth. What a man.

Anonymous Athor Pel April 25, 2016 8:27 AM  

"51. Blogger Floridated April 25, 2016 8:09 AM
Little known fact: the sound side of Paisley Park floats. It is built so that it has no actual contact with the ground. Talk about attention to detail. To build that in the 80's is just amazing. I guess he used water or oil to keep it suspended from all contact with the Earth. What a man.
"


I was watching a video of Kevin Smith telling his Prince story. In it he tells something else unique about Paisley Park. It is completely, as in every room, wired for sound. Prince can record anywhere in it anytime he wants. He can also listen to any room from any other room any time he wants, live or recorded.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother April 25, 2016 8:51 AM  

I've read that Billy Gibbons was Hendrix' favorite guitar player. So two degrees removed, Hendrix and Prince. Imagine them playing together.

Anonymous Bob April 25, 2016 11:00 AM  

Reading all your posts and the rest that have come out in the past few days, I feel increasingly foolish for not putting him higher on my "to listen to" list. He's always been there, just on the edge of my musical selections, but I never took the extra few minutes to listen to his work.

That ended today. As a guitarist and singer, I can't help but marvel at that skill.

Blogger BigFire April 25, 2016 11:36 AM  

Principle problem Prince have with Warner Brothers is that he want to put out more songs and album than they're comfortable with. He has only released a fraction of the stuff he's written and record. Tupac's family have been repacking his music for decades, Prince's unreleased catalogue would've dwarf that.

Anonymous Susan April 25, 2016 12:18 PM  

I was surfing YouTube yesterday and came across the video of Prince, Tom Petty and several others playing a HoF tribute to George Harrison, "When My Guitar Gently Weeps". Holy cow was that ever awesome sauce to watch.
His fingers just flew like they had minds of their own. Then at the end, he took off his guitar and tossed the thing and walked off stage. I seriously suspect he never played on that guitar again after that number.

He even did an episode of the Muppets Tonight. THAT is a bold artist.

Blogger Were-Puppy April 25, 2016 12:36 PM  

@19 FWIT

Fool
With
Idiotic
Tendencies

Blogger Were-Puppy April 25, 2016 12:38 PM  

@25 LastRedoubt

The only time I like Jazz is live.

Blogger Were-Puppy April 25, 2016 12:46 PM  

@48 Atomic Agent 13
goo.gl/17fP2p 3:26 into video.
---

To me, that's just any old day hangin' out and jammin.

Anonymous rubberducky April 25, 2016 1:13 PM  

I heard that somebody once asked Eric Clapton how it felt to be the greatest rock guitarist alive, and he said, "I dunno. You'll have to ask Prince."

Blogger Paul Leavenworth April 25, 2016 7:06 PM  

Prince said the hardest thing to do in music is write a song that people hum along to on the first listen. He was flat out awesome.

He also did most of his playing on a cheap Hohner telecaster copy. He defines "the tone is in the hands".

Anonymous jdgalt April 26, 2016 1:08 AM  

And while one cannot reasonably expect Prince's music to survive the test of time in the manner that Mozart's has, one also cannot say that he did not make the most of the incredible talents he was given.

I don't see how one can avoid saying that when the man threw away the rest of his life by getting careless with drugs. Which puts him in plenty of very talented company -- and shows that artistic merit and common sense do not always go together, and may even interfere with each other.

Anonymous Wooly Phlox April 26, 2016 4:16 PM  

Thanks for this thread, folks.

It's a delight to read so many who get it.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts