Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon

3rd Dec 2010 | 14:41

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Peredur ap Gwynedd (Pendulum)

Recently, in an effort to fully understand John Lennon's impact on guitar music and the landscape of pop music in general TG has been speaking to a wide range of guitarists across multiple genres. Here everyone from Joe Bonamassa and Skunk Anansie to Joe Satriani and Gannin Arnold (Taylor Hawkins) explain what they've learnt from Lennon...

Peredur ap Gwynedd (Pendulum)

"The first thing you notice about Lennon's rhythm playing is how angry it is. He doesn't strum those chords, he stabs at them. Very punk rock, very garage rock. Also his rock steady acoustic playing on ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ is well worth a listen.

"Not many people realise how influential his rhythm guitar playing really was, as it's been somewhat overshadowed by Keith Richard and Pete Townshend, but he was also a great writer of riffs. Put some more distortion on ‘Hey Bulldog’ or ‘Come Together’ and, hey presto, John Lennon nearly invented heavy metal!"

The Beatles 'The Ballad Of John And Yoko'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Gary Lucas

Gary Lucas (Grammy-nominated guitarist and songwriter)

“John Lennon, more than anyone else save Bob Dylan, represents to me the true spirit of the 60s in all its splendid idealistic glory. When he died I actually wept, and I do not cry easily... and vowed to keep that same spirit alive in my heart.

"His songwriting and guitar playing are beyond question: he wrote indelible masterpieces and knew how to make his guitar TALK, howl, and growl. I never thought of him as a rhythm player only, evidence his masterful solo utterances on ‘The End’ and ‘Revolution’. He dared to dream for us all.”

The Beatles 'The End'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Ginger (The Wildhearts)

Ginger (The Wildhearts)

"Working recently with legendary John Lennon producer Jack Douglas on the 30th anniversary of John's death, it was an amazing opportunity to see Jack being interviewed by various US documentary channels and eavesdrop on the stories. Jack described how it was to work with John, and the candid snippets of their private life revealed a very spiritual but internally angry man who was far more in line with his audience than the media wanted anyone to believe.

"Lennon’s sense of confusion, anger, frustration, yet tireless optimism had more in common with society in general than a pretty chorus and some scathing rhymes. I'll always be in love with his tunes and his lyrics, but I'll remember him forever because he spoke to me like an equal.”

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Donald Ross Skinner (Love Amongst Ruin)

Donald Ross Skinner (Love Amongst Ruin)

“Lennon's songwriting trajectory traced a path from introspection and insecurity, through stripped bare confessional to hyper-communication and, ultimately, something perhaps too comfortable and palatable to many. The first two of these always appealed to me the most, from the self doubt of ‘Help!’ to the fork-in-the-road cuts like ‘I'm So Tired’, Julia’, ‘Glass Onion’ from The White Album and, ultimately, the stark openness of ‘Mother’, ‘God’, ‘Isolation’, etc, from the ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ album.

"Lennon’s guitar playing tended to blend with the song, although he had a few spotlight moments: the genial blues noodle on ‘Get Back’, the visceral yawp of ‘Yer Blues’ and the take-a-number-and-wait-your-turn three-way on ‘The End’ to name a few. The most tear-ass guitar sound he ever achieved? The vocal on ‘Twist and Shout’. Well, he had a body, a neck and a head, was wired up and periodically strung out. Sounds like a rock ’n' roll instrument to me. How 'bout them apples?!”

The Beatles 'Get Back'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
John Blaney (Lennon expert and author)

John Blaney (Lennon expert and author)

“From ‘All You Need Is Love’ (“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done”) to ‘Mind Games’ (“Projecting our images in space and in time”), John Lennon sowed the seeds of a grassroots revolution that was as open and inclusive as previous attempts had been closed and prohibitive. What Lennon proffered was a revolution of the head that was both individualistic and universal. His was a vision without prejudice, hatred or segregation. It was easy. Anybody could do it. And it could be summed up in one word, the most powerful world in the English language — Imagine!”

John Blaney is the author of ‘Lennon & McCartney: Together Alone’ and ‘Beatles For Sale: How Everything They Touched Turned To Gold’ both published by Jawbone

The Beatles 'All You Need Is Love'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

"John Lennon's fuzzed out guitar playing on the ‘Revolution’ single is one of my favourite guitar performances. He had a raw and muscular way of playing with distortion that I always found to be unique. David Bowie's ‘Fame’ features John playing in that way, and it makes the track swing for me.

"His rhythm guitar playing was always spot on, with lots of feel and groove. His knowledge of chords and how to use harmony creatively was evident throughout both The Beatles catalogue and his own. These days ‘Lennonesque’ is a term one could use to describe how using diminished and augmented chords to bring a chord sequence to a higher level. All in all, John Lennon was really a superb player."

The Beatles 'Revolution'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Monte Pittman (Madonna, Adam Lambert)

Monte Pittman (Madonna, Adam Lambert, Prong)

"One of the many amazing talents, in my opinion, about John Lennon was his foresight to set up the chord he was going to play with the chord he played before it. You can hear and feel what he was hearing and feeling when he did a song. That doesn't happen every day."

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Mark Evans (Young Rebel Set)

Mark Evans (Young Rebel Set)

“I remember hearing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ during a music lesson at school, it was unlike anything I had heard before. I immediately became a fan and began to buy The Beatles records. I discovered that although Lennon was an innovator of experimental music and song-writing, during the latter years of The Beatles and throughout his solo career his music and songwriting returned to his roots; drawing on his earlier influences of rock ’n’ Roll and R&B. In terms of his guitar playing, I would say if it is measured by how many people he’s influenced to pick up a guitar, then he’s up there with the best.”

The Beatles 'Strawberry Fields Forever'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Gannin Arnold (Taylor Hawkins and The Coattail Riders)

Gannin Arnold (Taylor Hawkins and The Coattail Riders, Joe Walsh, solo artist)

“I believe all guitar players should check out the way John Lennon plays rhythm guitar. It's becoming a lost art form. His playing had an earthy bluesy quality that was there to serve the song. Take a track like ‘I Found Out’, which was a super raw guitar track that was punk before it's time.

"Most of my favourite Beatles songs are John Lennon songs. I especially like ‘The White Album’! Check out the guitar on ‘Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey’ and ‘I'm So Tired’. Understated but perfect. There was no Pro Tools editing back then, so you actually had to deliver great takes with feel.”

The Beatles 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey’

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Jake Snider (Minus The Bear)

Jake Snider (Minus The Bear)

“I was not a Beatles fan in my youth. I was a skate punk. The Beatles early pop was always in the background somewhere, sweet and cloying and lacking the edge I loved in punk. Then I heard ‘Revolver’. Lennon's real, raspy voice and fuzzy guitar, the out of this world production, the subversive lyrics and their depth; all these things turned me into a follower. ‘Revolver’ was my gateway into the rest of the Beatles catalogue and Lennon's wrenching solo work. What a sweet drug John Lennon gave us all.”

The Beatles 'Taxman'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Ace (Skunk Anansie)

Ace (Skunk Anansie)

"When I think of John Lennon, I never really think of his guitar work at all (even though in all of his live pictures he is captured with a six string slung around his neck). Also, at the same as when I think of his solo music, I don’t think of any specific musical genre it represents. He is ingrained in most peoples’ memories as someone that they grew up with, influencing everyone around them – even if not themselves.

"As a child and teenager, his songs and catchy melodies were the forefront of his representation to me, but as I grow older John means many different things to me now.

"After listening to his music for 30 years plus, and the classic songs becoming part of my existence and musical vocabulary, I am more intrigued by his personal life, creative ventures and his dual life as a political activist as well as a musician.

"John’s fantasy love affair with Yoko Ono, is fascinating to me as well, with their almost inseparable bond, tirelessly campaigning for peace at the same time as creating art, films and many LPs. The photo archive of John and Yoko is almost as entertaining as the music they created at times, with them pioneering many fashions as well as coordinating their looks to suit certain campaigns and ventures.

"John Lennon reveled in the creative freedom he attained once he had left the Beatles and achieved so many things, from the famous bed in peace protest to the classic world Anthem ‘Give Peace a Chance’ he recorded in that hotel room at the time (once sung by 250,000 people at a rally in Washington DC protesting the Vietnam war in November 1969).

"The world was cruelly robbed when he met his fate in New York in 1980. I was too young, as a schoolboy at the time, to really realize the weight of this tragic event, and I only just understand it now (100,000 people gathered in Central Park in sympathy). When I think of it now and the fantastic gifts of music and peace he brought to the world, - and the love of his fellow man – I just want to cry."

John Lennon 'Give Peace A Chance'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Steve Lukather (Toto, legendary session guitarist)

Steve Lukather (Toto, legendary session guitarist)

“1964 – Ed Sullivan, my life changed forever. The Beatles. I was seven years old but to this day I think it was like the second coming. All of the Beatles were mesmerizing. It was the sound, the look, everything. No-one has yet to come close to changing the world like the lads from Liverpool have.

“At first, every member’s job was obvious, but as the years went by things merged, John played solos, as did Paul and George. It was hard to know who did what until I did my homework. Cut to 25 years later and I got to work with Paul and then George separately as well as George Martin and Geoff Emerick and I got a lot more info.

“John added an energy that cannot be described in a few words. Just the way he stood when he played exuded a vibe – think of him and his sanded blonde Epiphone on the rooftop doing ‘Get Back’. Rhythm guitar was cool because John played it! He played solos, too, but his part of the overall feel of the band when they played live was the glue. Especially early on, as they got more experimental and they wrote separately, their roles became less defined. Check out the end of ‘Abbey Road’ when John, Paul and George traded solos or ‘Sgt Peppers…’ All I know is John gave the edgy slant to the band and Lord knows we all thought he was so cool as well.

“My feeling is that The Beatles gave such a strong group effort and I love them all, but John had a vibe that brought the best out of Paul – and vice versa – and in my book, they made the most magical songwriting team in history. Too many people place too much value on chops, which are just meaningless without groove. John was like the hi-hat, strumming the groove of the song.

“I could do volumes of detail but God bless John and his contribution to the guitar as well as everything else. Lord knows how many guitars he helped sell over the years! He is the soundtrack ofmy life. Thanks is not enough!”

The Beatles ‘Abbey Road Medley’

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Madison Stolzer (Rosaline)

Madison Stolzer (Rosaline)

“Trying to write about John Lennon in a few words is like trying to drain the ocean with a straw; a dent can hardly be made. In all unbiased honesty, he may be the most influential musician that ever was. Think about that for a second. That is a bold claim. And it's coming from a 22 year old American songwriter that wasn't alive during his time and doesn't play music that most people would find relatable to his. That's how strong.

"It was his ability to lead; his music was an undeniable medium of influence that stretched to every corner of a person's existence. He was among one of the most powerful people in the world in the purest way possible. He never got elected. Did you know Nixon tried to deport him because he was so afraid of his influence? That's solid. I haven't cried in about 10 years, for who knows how many fucked up reasons. But to this day, the closest I have ever come was when listening to ‘Let It Be’.”

The Beatles 'Let It Be'

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Gallery: What I've learnt from Lennon
Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa

"Its strange to think in terms of numbers when it comes to John Lennon. 30 years since that fateful day in front of the Dakota Building on 72nd street and 70 years since his birth. As a guitarist, John Lennon was happy playing a sideman role to greats such as George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Rick Neilson among others. His songwritting was impeccable. Faultless at times. Honestly though, that is a subject for one of Q or Mojo magizine's umpteenth articles analyzing the meaning of ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and ‘Imagine’. Not here.

"Lennon for me is all about being a guitar anorak. Let's start with the Gibson J-160E acoustic/electric. A dreadful electric version of the J-45 but Lennon loved it, used it and made it iconic and very collectible. The same goes for the much better early 60s Epiphone Casino and the Rickenbacker 365 model 3/4 scale in black. These guitars all started innocently enough, but with Lennon's name and legacy attached they became highly sought after collectibles. Plug ’em up through a Vox AC30, Vox Super Beatle or, if the Plastic Ono band is your speed, a 1971 Fender Dual Showman reverb and you’re golden.

"In 1980, the world lost one of its treasures. A talent the likes of a John Lennon will likely not come along ever again. His music and guitars will be talked about forever."

TG209 (on sale 26 November) features John Lennon on the cover and honours the working class guitar hero's contribution to the guitar world, including interviews with 'Nowhere Boy' Aaron Johnson and 'Imagine' session guitarist Joey Molland.

Apps you might like:

Most Popular

TopView classic version