Guitar Player presents Clapton, Beck, Page
Edited by Michael Molenda
Bookshops are full of meticulously detailed biographies of famous rock stars, many of which delve into levels of detail that only a professional stalker can relish. This book takes a simpler (and cheaper) route: it republishes several significant interviews with the three gods of electric-blues rock from its own pages.
Jeff Beck gets the widest coverage with chats beginning in 1968, when he just hit the big time, to 2010, when he gives a nice retrospective of his career. Beck constantly touched greatness, but he pulled back each time, fearing success would kill him just like Jimmy, Janis, and all the other first name-only giants. Clapton is modest and self-effacing; his inner demon was a fear of playing a bad note and having to listen to it on playback. While fans painted “Clapton is God” on the streets of London, he remained a humble fan of the great blues players that went before him. His greatest loss was his faithful guitar “Blackie,” which he claims “just wore out.” He had others, so many that he stored them with his roadies, friends, and at the Hard Rock. There’s a single interview from Page; he’s hard to pin down, but he takes pride in the unusual recording set-ups that gave Led Zeppelin its remarkable studio sound.
While there’s gossip and history in the book, the talk always drifts toward technique — how were the amps set up, what string and picks on what body, and the mechanics of fingerpicking on unusual tunings are always present. This part will appeal to those hoping to recreate the early metal sound, and the book helpfully includes some exercises at the end. Practice hard and you can get the sound of “Kashmir” or “Slow Hand.” You got it in you, kid — you can be a star! Just pick a good first name, so we won’t confuse you when you’re dead.