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  1. #1

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    A recent thread here started to address the topic of who was the best of the Big 3. I added one.

    Let the debate begin!

    My view: All great in their own way.

    Clapton most popular and most accessible, but least accomplished musically.

    Page most eclectic and most skilled musically, as evidenced by Led Zeppelin's overall work.

    Beck most creative instrumentally, but held back from commercial super success for various reasons.

    Hendrix maybe the most brilliant but erratic and died young.

    Your thoughts?


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Beck, best overall player, made as much music I find uninteresting as music I think is awesome.

    Hendrix, most visceral and entertaining. If I could only listen to one of the 4, itd be him.

    Page...I dunno, wrote some good tunes other people wrote first?

    Clapton...uhhh...Blind Faith was pretty cool. Hasn't made any relevant music in 30 something years.

  4. #3

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    I’m an Allman man myself.

  5. #4

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    Like many, these three are the reason I started to play guitar. Thanks to them I found jazz and many other genres of music! Heralding one over the other is pointless IMO. Only one? Clapton, including the irrelevant music of the last 30 years. Hmmmm.....

  6. #5

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    For me, Hendrix is at the top of that list by far. Clapton would be a distant second and Beck and Page would be tied in an even more distant third.

    But why is this debate in this area of the forum?

  7. #6

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    Clapton's talent and, if you will, genius, is at least comprehensible to a mere mortal.

    Hendrix is a whole 'nother thing, baby.

  8. #7

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    There were better Rock players in their era (Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner to name just 2). Hendrix was special cos he made you really feel something, but musically and technically was quite limited, despite what his rabid fans will say. Clapton and Page, box pentatonic noodling.... but quite good at it and could write tunes to suit.

    Beck was always more adventurous and cleverer, even dipped into Jazz fusion in a good way (mostly). Heck, for Blow by Blow alone, I say he wins ...

  9. #8

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    Are we talking music or a cage match? I pick Keef with his tele...

  10. #9

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    All four where highly influential to me.

    I liked his early period with Cream, a strong establishment of what the sound of blues and rock would sound like after; I think his best solo was really Sunshine of Your Love.
    He seems to have peaked early and gradually forgotten how to play as time went on after that, can't stand anything he's done since the early 70s.

    I liked the first Led Zep record the best. Page went on to show that he was very prolific in different styles, if a bit sloppy, and opened a lot of avenues for rock to progress into different directions, but those weren't my directions.

    I liked Rough and Ready (1971), had some jazz influence. Some of his other early stuff I liked, but he kind of went down a path of inventing and adopting a collection of peculiar techniques to make odd sounds and sound effects that I just don't appreciate.

    Not sure what was going on with him. I had a record he did in 1966 that was horrible, as in he did not sound like he knew how to even play the guitar yet. But just a few years later was Band of Gypsies, which I think was his best playing... transcendent playing, awe inspiring playing, I can't say too much the degree to which I loved it. Somehow he had not only mastered the guitar but invented a whole new way of playing the instrument that transformed the thing into a mystical musical experience.
    I have yet to hear anything played by anyone since that even breaks the seal on whatever magical influence he invoked on that record.

    So, in summary, I liked the early work of Clapton, Page, and Beck, but all three drifted into areas that did not hold me. From my perspective, the profile of all three peaked early and eventually lost the bubble. In contrast, Hendrix grew more amazing with time and peaked shortly before he passed.

    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Hendrix was ... musically and technically was quite limited
    If you haven't heard the Band of Gypsies,
    give the whole thing a listen and let me know what you think...

  11. #10

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    Live Cream Sleepy Time Time.

    Hendrix 1st four albums

    Led Zeppelin I

    Truth Jeff Beck Group

  12. #11

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    First of all, they wouldn't be my big four. However, going with those...

    the most creative of the four, ON GUITAR. I don't "get" some of his stuff, but that's on me, not him LOL. Also most unique. I listen to him occasionally.

    IMO, you had to be there. He's cool and all, but when you were raised with SRV and Van Halen, Hendrix just sounds sloppy. Not taking anything away from the revolutionary effects of his music, he changed the guitar world more than any of the four. I just can't really get into it.

    Great riff-writer, sloppy soloist (kind of surprised he was a #1 session guy). His magic wasn't in his playing as much as in his vision & production. The man's a genius. I listen to LZ occasionally. (I overdosed on the box set when it came out LOL)
    Great memoir, BTW.

    I guess he too was revolutionary? ("Clapton is God"?) But I never got much his older stuff- the stuff everyone says is the best. Of course some of it was great, I just never got the "God" moniker. Beck and Page always turned me on more than Clapton, from a "uniqueness" point of view. However- I really liked alot of Clapton's MUSIC (and especially his playing) in the Behind The Sun/Journeyman era- poo-poo'ed by many for being a sell-out; lots of great songs and playing in there. I used to listen to 24 Nights ALL the time. But agree with most people: hasn't been relevant since, the popularity of his "Unplugged" not withstanding.

    Actually, something has been making me want to listen to some Clapton again recently....

  13. #12

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    Give me Syd Barrett over them any day.

  14. #13

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    Hendrix was my favorite as a kid. Beck is my favorite as an adult, esp "Blow by Blow" and "Wired."

  15. #14

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    Trump vs Clinton vs Obama vs Schwarzie
    KFC vs Mcdonalds vs Burger King vs Carl's Jr
    Carlsberg vs Bud vs Foster vs Heinken
    Ben and Jerrys cookie dough vs caramel chew chew vs vanilla pecan blondie vs chocolate fudge brownie...

    I am sick of these VS polls. Everyday and everywhere is compete compete compete. It's too much. Just leave these legends rest in peace and appreciate what they brought to music individually.

    Envoyé de mon SM-G930F en utilisant Tapatalk

  16. #15

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    I liked all of them at different times in my life. Clapton probably the least, but I do remember enjoying 'Unplugged' quite a bit.

  17. #16

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    Page Clapton Hendrix Beck.

  18. #17

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    Jeff Beck:
    A real trailblazer. Saw him play live with The Yardbirds back in 1966 when he introduced the world to controlled feedback and pick-slides. Best album: "Over Under Sideways Down". 2nd best album: "Truth".

    Jimmy Page:
    The most versatile of the four and a creative songwriter. Played good fingerstyle steel string acoustic and pickstyle electric. Best album: "Led Zeppelin 1". 2nd best album: "Led Zeppelin 2".

    Eric Clapton:
    Best traditional blues player of the four and the best wah-wah pedal user as evidenced by his solos in "White Room". Best album: "Wheels Of Fire". 2nd best album "Live Cream".

    Jimi Hendrix:
    A creative songwriter and guitarist. Also the first guitarist to play what was called "psychedelic music". Best album: "Are You Experienced". 2nd best album: "Axis Bold As Love".

  19. #18

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    I like them all, but I think that of the four, Clapton had probably veered off his true musical path the most. I don't know about 30 "lost" years, but I can see about 28 It's rock'n roll and has a fence around it, if you know what I mean. That is except for Beck. He has stretched the boundaries of rock a few times.

  20. #19

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    There are a hundred guys on YouTube who can copy licks and play fast. And none of the four you list are threats to Cole Porter as songwriters. So what you are really looking for is someone who, as a guitar player, made you go, whoa, I need to figure this stuff out. And guys like Clapton playing Freddy King licks or KR playing Chuck Berry licks don't count; their stuff was only fresh and exciting to folks unfamiliar with real innovators.

    And yeah, to understand the impact of Hendrix, you had to be around when he first hit. At the time these guys were really active, KR was the most influential for me, but only because he led me to Chuck Berry, who led me to Charlie Christian.

    In my mind, for "rock" or "blues" you need to learn to master Chuck Berry style, Hendrix style, BB King style, Chet Atkins style, Muddy Waters style, Robert Johnson style, and probably some others that I am not thinking about, before you would need to pick up anything from Beck or Page. I don't think there is such a thing as Clapton style.

  21. #20

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    I thought this was a JAZZ guitar website.

  22. #21

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    I'm not going to pick one, but I remember back in college my guitar-playing friends and I thought of Beck, Clapton, and Hendrix as the triumvirate of rock guitarists - whenever one of them came out with a new album, he became the "best". Of course, the other guys didn't know much about my triumvirate: Charlie, Django, and Wes.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove
    Page Clapton Hendrix Beck.
    My order too. But I must admit I don't know Beck's music well enough to comment.

    I love all these guys, but Led Zeppelin is a life long favorite.

    To me, it's not a competition. Good music is good music, and these guys all delivered.
    I like lots & lots of other guitarists, singers and other instrumentalists too.
    Sooooo much good music out there . . .

  24. #23

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    My likes and prefrences changed over the years a lot!

    I was obssesed over Page, Led Zeppelin II was my bible of licks and riffs for a while. At the same time I was a fan of Black Sabbath just as much. Now days I can still listen to BS and love it, but not LZ, I dunno why! So there goes Page...

    Beck is great, but not my thing.

    Hendrix was a passion for a while, but not much anymore... Too much jamming, too much... everything! But he could be a groove machine when he wanted to, the chitlin circuit years was what separated him from millions wannabees.

    Clapton is still fun to listen to, I also love his 80s output more than 70s. Journeyman was great album!

    But generally I love rock guitarist who can play tight rhythms and solos, in that order. So EVH or Angus Young would be my first choice these days.

  25. #24

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    As a technician on the instrument, innovator in how it's used compositionally, and in the forging of new directions in music, Hendrix is at an entirely different level from those others, as all of them have said. He is one of the true watershed/paradigm-shifter figures in the history of music, and I don't see how anyone could argue differently. Looking at it strictly chronologically in terms of innovation and influence, Clapton and Hendrix are roughly neck and neck. Cream and the Experience were born at around the same time ('66), consciously influencing each other (along with the Who; Townshend and Clapton were the ones among all the Brit guitarists who spent the most time with Hendrix). So even though Zeppelin may have ultimately been more fruitful than Cream, Cream got there first. Same could be said about the other Brits many think are/were better technically than Clapton (e.g., Peter Green, Mick Taylor etc.). Clapton got there first; you hear his playing in them, not the other way round. Later Yardbirds, early Jeff Beck Group, and Led Zeppelin came later and built on directions set by Clapton/Cream and Hendrix, not the way the other way round. But who is better? That's just a matter of taste. Among the four we're talking about, they had/have chops to execute the music in their heads. That's as good as anyone needs to be.

    I think Page ultimately matured into a much more interesting and complete musician than either Clapton or Beck. Zeppelin was a great band, that (absurdly over the top personae aside) made a ton of interesting, surprising music. But it wasn't Page's playing per se that drove this; it was more the way he built songs and the synergies of the group as a whole. Clapton basically died artistically after Layla. He has done nothing even a tenth as good as this in the decades since, and a ton of depressingly bad stuff. He was the first instrumentalist I ever got into, and I drilled into his playing like pretty much no one else, but there's really only about 5 years of his career worth taking seriously, which is frustrating.

    I find Beck to be kind of an odd (constipated?) duck. I think he actually keeps getting better and better throughout his career in terms of his command of texture, expression, tone, and dynamics on the instrument. But he's has not had many group vehicles that exploit that to good effect, and he's not very prolific. I find some of the stuff he has done relatively recently (e.g., with Tal Wilkenfeld) to be quite extraordinary. The way he integrates right and left hand touch/texture with the whammy bar and the amp is really something. But he holds back a lot in terms of actual melody and improvisation. He gives you these little snippets and bites of really promising stuff, but (at least it seems to me) doesn't take to it's logical conclusion of longer phrases and full melodies.

    Last edited by John A.; 11-01-2018 at 04:46 PM.

  26. #25

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    I'm old enough to have seen all of these guys live in their prime. Of the 3 still living only Jeff Beck has continued to evolve. That said, I appreciate all of them equally for the great sounds they brought to me as a teenager and adult. But it was Duane Allman and Dickey Betts who turned me on to John Coltrane and for me the rest was history.

  27. #26

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    Hendrix: Used to watch the Monterey Pop show before gigs to pump up, loved the gum chewing and
    confidence, also the lighter fluid, Wild Thing "Awe shucks... I love you" pure passion but sometimes
    sounded like crap.

    Page: Live on "The song remains the same" some of his soloing is freakishly good, but he made everybody
    in my generation want to have a super long strap and play down by their knees, for that alone, he is out...

    Clapton: Loved his work with Cream, get's added Papawooly props for screaming "An Imaginary Knight?"
    during live version of "Have you ever loved a woman" from E.C. was here, but is also disqualified from
    consideration due to the super loud ubiquitous 60Hz hum heard throughout that same live album.

    Beck: Was my favorite among these 4 for great work such as "Truth" and "Blow by Blow" but hated the
    Sir George Martin "Wired" and everything else after that, sounds like a couple of feral cats got stuck in
    a clothes dryer...

    Yup, that's me in a nutshell, I love everybody until inevitably, they do something off-putting.

    So for the final tally... Hendrix (junkie) Clapton (Junkie) Page (Junkie)
    Beck...loves Beer and working on classic cars... Beck wins.

    Could somebody shut off that dryer?

  28. #27

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    It's not about who is best.
    It's about who is bestest!
    Last edited by Hammertone; 11-01-2018 at 03:18 PM.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by matcarsa
    Trump vs Clinton vs Obama vs Schwarzie
    KFC vs Mcdonalds vs Burger King vs Carl's Jr
    Carlsberg vs Bud vs Foster vs Heinken
    The best: Obama
    The worst: A tie between Heineken and Trump

  30. #29

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    Hendrix changed my life... Before that, I was playing a nylon-string guitar, strumming singer-songwriter stuff of my own, and covering 40s-50s country and rockabilly, even some 60s beat music. He changed not only my musical dreams, but how I acted and my views. I was an outsider in middle school and secondary school, and when he sung "I'm gonna wave my freak flag high", something clicked. His influence really helped me feel alright about myself at the time. Plus, the ways he played guitar, man. Even today, Jimi does Jimi best. For a few years, I went away from that music and considered it a part of my past, but recently I listened through some of my old favorites. Still absolutely spine-tingling. Shame on me for forgetting where I came from!

    The bit from 1:45 and out in "if 6 was 9", from which the aforementioned quote stems, swings and grooves like mad. I didn't know at the time how jazzy it was with its 8th note bassing

  31. #30

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    My first concert was Jimi Hendrix in Honolulu 1968. It was something I'll never forget. I love the other players but would not try to compare what I saw to anyone. I think if you asked all the others they would all tell you Hendrix was their favorite.

  32. #31

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    I'm going to piss in the punch bowl, here.

    I'll take Steve Cropper over the Big Four...and I still greatly enjoy the Big Four. Cropper, though, could play "pocket" all day long and serve the song. His rhythms and licks were precisely what was called for. If you can add or subtract a note from "Tic Tac Toe," "Green Onions," "Time Is Tight," etc., or "Dock of the Bay," "Try A Little Tenderness," etc., you are hearing something I am not.

    Cropper's the guy.

  33. #32

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    Three of these guys (Hendrix, Clapton and Beck) were/are (mostly) Strat players. Page, while known as a Les Paul player did his best work (IMO) with a Tele. There, I have tied this thread to the gear column!

    Not that I advocate doing illegal drugs, but if you have not heard Hendrix under the influence of LSD, you have not heard Hendrix. Just sayin'

    And I in no way want to promote promiscuity, but if you have not listened to Page/Plant and the boys while engaged in the pleasures of the flesh, well, you should try that. Even if you are not impressed by the guitar playing, you will have a great time. :-)

    Hendrix was a great innovator in the history of rock guitar. The other three are (mostly) White, English popularizers of Afro-American blues guitar playing (and I think all three would cop to that). The work that Clapton did with Cream and Blind Faith are epic, as is the work that Page did with Led Zeppelin. Beck was part of the 70's fusion movement in jazz, though more from the rock school than the jazz school.

    All four are great players in the history of the guitar. All of our tastes vary, so one may like these guys in different order or may not like one or more of them. But for any keyboard commandos on an online guitar forum to trash talk the guitar playing of any of these masters is an example of poor taste to put it mildly.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger

    Not that I advocate doing illegal drugs, but if you have not heard Hendrix under the influence of LSD, you have not heard Hendrix. Just sayin'
    They say the day of the famous Monterey Pop show, Mr. Owsley showed up with a "fresh batch of tabs"
    Mama Cass was "allegedly" so wasted she could just watch mouth opened as Janis destroyed the notion
    that girls can't rock...

    ... then "again allegedly" Jimi said.. "I'll take two" ...this is what happened next...

    Just your everyday run-of-the-mill concert stuff...

  35. #34

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    Eric Clapton vs. Jimmy Page vs. Jeff Beck vs. Jimi Hendrix-446ae839-38b5-400d-8edc-e7326aef25b5-jpeg

  36. #35

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    Jimi changed everything, i'm still bitter about his lifestyle choices (that is why I picked the still living
    beer drinker Jeff Beck above) but he was/is still the most influential guitar player EVER

    When Jimi Hendrix arrived in London in 1966 he blew the minds of Clapton, Beck and Page. They'd soon follow his lead and develop an explosive new form of electric blues...

    Jimi Hendrix: 'He pulled the rug out from under Cream' | Louder

  37. #36

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    The greatest sets at Monterey were Otisville Redding and Hendrix. This was memorialized on the Reprise album Live at Monterey: Otisville Redding (Steve Cropper) on sidemand one, Hendrix on side two.

  38. #37

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    Clapton was always an inspiration and his ability to phrase blue notes and do those incredibly bends was the hook that got me. He's more accomplished than many give him credit. I saw I'm in the 80s and then a couple of years ago. I wish I'm still doing that into my 70s.

    Beck got to me later. The work he did commenting Les Paul was fun and to work on cars, not give 2 shits about commercial success, quit the Yardbirds in the middle of a US tour because he was tired of being sick (and then shacking up with some chick) says it all. Love his work with Ronnie and Rodney but the record he did with Rosie a couple of years back is a favorite of mine.

    Page inspires me at times, but not really as a musician so much as a producer. How he had the entire 1st Zep Lp all worked out in advance and how he hung to a tight budget, recording the entire piece in days, is cool.

    Hendrix is fine. Love some of his work. Just could never warm up to the heavier stuff.

  39. #38

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    The History of Electric Guitar can be said in four words: Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix.

    There I said it.
    Now let the dung fly.

  40. #39

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    Love me some Hendrix, but as a kid I forgot about all those guys once I heard what Jan Akkerman, Steve Howe and John Mclaughlin were doing. Much more interesting and inspiring, to me, anyway.

    Silly a** thread

  41. #40

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    Damn, Stringswinger, I want to hang out with you! cheers

  42. #41

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    Jimi freaked everyone out in the rock and roll world (and beyond in some cases) when he "arrived" in the UK in the mid-late 60s. Of course, Jeff Beck was not playing like this back then. Blew me away:

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    Love me some Hendrix, but as a kid I forgot about all those guys once I heard what Jan Akkerman, Steve Howe and John Mclaughlin were doing. Much more interesting and inspiring, to me, anyway.

    Silly a** thread
    Oh yeah Jan Akkerman! Loved his playing, could be so melodic and lyrical one moment, then really wailing and burning the next. Plus the odd bit of classical guitar and lute thrown in. He was my favourite for a long time when I was in my teens.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marwin Moody
    Damn, Stringswinger, I want to hang out with you! cheers
    Thanks Marwin.

    Hendrix changed my life along with four other guitar players.

    I heard the Beatles in 1964 and John Lennon was an instant hero to my six year old self. I knew then that I wanted to be a guitar player (still do!). Then in 1968 I heard Hendrix. At ten years old, just starting to play the guitar, Hendrix made me want to be a great guitar player (I still aim for that!). Then in 1973, I heard Wes Montgomery and at 15, I knew I wanted to be a great JAZZ guitar player (I am working on it, I tell you!). A year later at sixteen, I heard Joe Pass and knew I wanted to be a great solo Jazz player in addition to being a great rock and jazz ensemble player (one can hope!) and in 2002, at forty-four, I heard Bireli Lagrene and had my last guitar epiphany. In addition to all else, I wanted to be a great ACOUSTIC jazz player (there is still time!).

    I think I would have become an even better guitar player than I am if girls and motorcycles had not distracted me so much, but I am eternally thankful for those distractions. And I remain eternally thankful to Hendrix as he was one of the guys who gave me a lantern and showed me the path.

  45. #44

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    There's a video interview with John M.(Mahavishnu) where he says he took Miles to a Hendrix show. He said all Miles said was "Damn...Damn...).

  46. #45

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    Always loved Hendrix for the power, passion and vision

    Clapton always sounds dated - yep the blues came to England and you liked it and adopted that sound - got it !

    Page cleverly grafted the blues rock riff thing and the surrounding theatrics which heralded even more theatrics see - Hairbands /Van Halen/AC/DC etc etc

    Beck - he owes John McLaughlin a favor for nudging him towards that Wired/Blow by Blow pseudo jazz sound otherwise its all .......

    If we are talking about early innovators in the rock blues amplified electric guitar thing!!! realm then the list is all wrong Two words - Roy Buchanan!!!!

    Plaid pants are cool!!!! Hear him out he has some serious stuff to say )


  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by jaco
    My first concert was Jimi Hendrix in Honolulu 1968. It was something I'll never forget. I love the other players but would not try to compare what I saw to anyone. I think if you asked all the others they would all tell you Hendrix was their favorite.
    agreed all the others are great rock blues players

    But Jimi was the game changer ...

    I mean , his chord melody playing on Axis
    Castles little wing etc was sublime wasn't it ?

  48. #47

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    Mike Bloomfield

  49. #48

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    My 2 cents:

    Hendrix - great phrasing in all aspects. Too bad he didn't live longer to give us more.

    Clapton - great power blues rock based on the turmoil in his life until he became a sad bore (bit harsh I know, but it's the internet) anything post 1976 = sad bore. EDIT: I think that I could take all the way to 1981's Another Ticket. Later stuff like the Johnson Sessions is kind of cool. Pretty good technical RJ stuff without being over produced at all. All of it in a different league than much earlier stuff though.

    Beck - really masterful techniques. Different because not a vocalist, but I don't enjoy some of his work that has vocals. People Get Ready with Rod Stewart is great and I am sure there are other good ones, but I have more than one Jeff Beck CD with tacky vocal songs. I don't like em. Always seems to be pushing the envelope at electric guitar with great results IMHO. Still very blues based.

    Page - also not a vocalist. Some really great stuff when he had his vision of Led Zeppelin going. Can still play, but has really not been prolific by any means for putting out much since the band stopped recording. Bits here and there I guess.
    Last edited by lammie200; 11-01-2018 at 10:10 PM.

  50. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Beck, best overall player, made as much music I find uninteresting as music I think is awesome.

    Hendrix, most visceral and entertaining. If I could only listen to one of the 4, itd be him.

    Page...I dunno, wrote some good tunes other people wrote first?

    Clapton...uhhh...Blind Faith was pretty cool. Hasn't made any relevant music in 30 something years.
    Agree, Beck skilled player, boring.

    Hendrix entertaining, powerful.

    Page, disagree, first album (great guitar), derivative/rip-off, then moved on.

    Clapton brilliant re-inventor.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitrman
    I thought this was a JAZZ guitar website.
    And the GEAR PORTION of the forum too...