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 that 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 that 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.
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 not to 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.
Keith Richards is perhaps one of the most recognizable guitarists in the world; he's the guitarist, secondary vocalist, and co-principal songwriter of The Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine wrote of Richards as the creator of “rock’s greatest single body of riffs” on the guitar. This guitar legend was born in Kent, England, in 1943, and it seems music was in his blood: his maternal grandfather, Augustus Theodore “Gus” Dupree, actually toured Britain with a big jazz band – and it was Dupree who gave Richards his first guitar. In a funny childhood story, Dupree had a guitar on a shelf that Richards couldn’t reach and bet him that if he could reach it, he could have it. Over time, Richards devised methods to retrieve the guitar until finally got hold of it.
From that point on, Richards’s lessons began. But while his grandfather encouraged his musical discovery, his father was against his son’s musicality. We’ve heard this story before, right? Regardless, fast forward a few years, and Richards is one of the most extraordinary guitarists ever, creating his own unique style via tuning of his guitar. Similar to Van Halen, Richards’s music is imitated and copied, but just doesn’t sound the same when it isn’t his fingers plucking and strumming. Songs like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Paint it Black” are all testaments to his work and craft.