Born in Minneapolis in 1958, Prince was an absolute guitar extraordinaire. At age seven he was writing songs, and his very first was titled “Funk Machine.” Sure, critics love to compare artists, trying to look for similarities or maybe just to tell them they’re copycats.
In Prince’s case, music reviewers have said they hear the sounds of Hendrix in his music, but Prince disagreed with these claims, saying: “If they really listened to my stuff, they’d hear more of a Santana influence than Jimi Hendrix.” Indeed, Prince is known for his melodic riffs. If you’ve not heard Prince in a while, go on, treat your Spotify followers to “When Doves Cry,” or maybe even to his solo in “Purple Rain.” Timeless.
Neil Young is a legend. And a legendary Canadian. He decided that music was his passion, moving to Los Angeles in the 60s. Subsequently, he formed Buffalo Springfield. His tenor voice, guitar skills and hard-hitting, personal lyrics created a musical assault of sorts – and won him millions of fans worldwide. Some trivia for you: did you know that during his early days with Buffalo Springfield, he was diagnosed with epilepsy? So really, are there any excuses to not learn the guitar?
Young was a musical prodigy from an early age and was exposed to the likes of his idol Elvis Presley, as well as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. He taught himself to play on a plastic ukulele, which progressed to everything BUT a guitar! Following success with Buffalo, he went solo for a year before reuniting with former bandmate Stephen Stills. He went between being in a band and performing solo but was successful in every endeavor.
Now, not many can say they’ve jammed with “The King”, Elvis Presley. Scotty Moore, however, is one of the very few exceptions. Born in Gadsden, Tennessee, Moore had been with Elvis since they were teens. The two, alongside bassist Bill Black, would form a trio that would change music forever. The trio didn’t actually have a designated drummer, which put more pressure on Moore to deliver and add some rhythm and foundation.
One night in June 1954, when the three were just jamming and mucking around, they came across a sound that would define them. It was the “slapback” echo effect, which led to the song “That’s All Right.” It was the beginning of a new chapter and the making of history. Moore was there for Elvis during his highs and lows, helping him during his comeback in 1968.
Born in Aberdeen, Washington in 1967, it seemed like it was destiny for Cobain to pick up the guitar. On his 14th birthday, his uncle offered him a bike or a used guitar. We’re sure you can guess what he chose. Fun fact: Elvis was given a similar choice, albeit the fact he was offered a rifle over a bike! The 20-year-old Cobain, alongside Krist Novoselic and Aaron Burckhard, formed the band Nirvana.
Success was found in the 90s anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on their album Nevermind. Nirvana was known for their sense of balance in music, playing songs that were loud and heavy-metal-esque, as well as others which were quieter and more melodic. The band was and still is considered a pioneering force in grunge music. Sadly, this "Generation X" icon's life was cut too short; he took his own life in 1994, at the young age of 27.
Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, was born in Lubbock, Texas on September 7, 1936. An American musician and singer-songwriter, Holly is widely recognized as a central, pioneering figure in the mid-1950s rock and roll. Growing up in a musical family during the Great Depression, the “Peggy Sue” singer learned the guitar and to sing alongside his siblings. Gospel, country and rhythm and blues all heavily influenced his style, and even opened for Elvis Presley!
He’s one of the first-ever to form what we know now as a “rock band” – his high school band featured bass and drums while Holly sang vocals and played guitar. Sadly, however, this musical genius lost his life too soon. In early 1959, Holly rustled up some troops – a new band – and they were scheduled to fly to Minnesota. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed, taking his life and three others. This tragedy in fact featured in Don McLean’s “American Pie”, referring to it as “The Day the Music Died.” Now that’s a tribute.