Some of the favored guitarists have played to GJ audiences
I received this e-mail on Feb. 9:
“Hello Rock: I have been a fan of your show and your column since my wife and I moved here in the end of 1990. Both the radio show and the column rival anything I have heard in Denver or many other places around the country.
“I just read your article regarding best bands and it got me thinking about the very best (top 10) guitarists I have seen personally play. I was wondering what would be your top 10 guitarists that you have seen.
“Here are mine: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Pete Townsend, Jeff Beck, Jorma Kaukonen and Leo Kotke.
“If you get a moment, it would be great to see what you thought. Thank you for your time. Please don’t stop writing the article because it is very informative regarding music and the industry, etc.
“I never miss a Friday that I don’t pull it out to see what you have going that week. It is a lot of fun.
“Thank you again,
Ken’s letter definitely got me to thinking. I replied to him immediately but have changed a few of my choices since I had time to think on it.
I saw Blue Oyster Cult in Saunders Fieldhouse at Mesa College in the 1970s. Buck Dharma was at lead guitar.
Lindsey Buckingham was Fleetwood Mac’s lead guitar player when they played at Saunders in 1974.
I was also lucky enough to see ZZ Top in the 1970s, when they still mattered, at Lincoln Park with Billy Gibbons playing lead.
The first major concert I attended was Grand Funk Railroad at the Denver Coliseum in February 1975.
Mark Farner was Grand Funk’s lead guitar player, and Grand Funk was my favorite band at the time.
My brother, his best friend and I attended Colorado Sunday No. 2 in 1978 at the rain soaked Folsom Field in Boulder. We saw Jesse Winchester, the Steve Miller Band and the Eagles featuring two leads, Don Felder and Joe Walsh.
Tab Benoit and Tinsley Ellis are two great blues guitarists who I have seen multiple times.
Ellis put on one of the most amazing guitar displays at a sparsely attended show at the Mesa Theater and Club.
Speaking of blues, I was honored to see Hubert Sumlin when he played at Avalon Theatre with the Legends of Chicago Blues.
Sumlin played guitar for Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and was a major influence on players from Jeff Beck to Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton to Jerry Garcia.
When Bob Dylan was here for a concert in 2002, Charlie Sexton and Dave Alvin shared lead guitar duties.
When I saw Bruce Springsteen at the Pepsi Center for The Rising Tour there were three really good guitar players on stage that night.
Both times I saw Paul McCartney he had great lead guitar players with him, which is not a surprise.
I have been blessed to see a lot of truly great guitar players in my lifetime, and here is my top 10 in no particular order because I had a hard enough time picking just 10:
Mark Knopfler, Mike Campbell (Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers), Hubert Sumlin, Steve Miller, Lindsey Buckingham, Billy Gibbons, Nils Lofgren, Tinsley Ellis, Leo Kottke and Neil Young.
Not a bad list, but it doesn’t really compare to Ken’s list.
If you have a minute, send me yours.
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