Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

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Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby capo » 22 Feb 2015, 10:14

First, as a preamble, let me say Rory is my favorite guitarist and musical artist of all time. Nobody had the unique tone and touch like him, his playing and approach was one of a kind. As I said before, he could break my heart with a single struck note. But as I asked in my thread title, did he change the way people played the guitar, was he an innovator? I think not. And this is NOT a criticism of him by any means. Aside from his unique idiosyncrasies that made him like no other player, I don't think he expanded, as they say, the "vocabulary" of the guitar, like Hendrix, and a new "old" discovery, Roy Buchanan. For those who are not aware of Buchanan, I recommend going to Youtube and be blown away. Austin City Limits in particular. I've just read a bio of him and have been feasting on his pioneering guitar techniques and style that has influenced so many players, and I think Rory. The use of the tone and volume controls to make the wah wah effect Rory used, Buchanan invented it back in the early 60's, along with "pinched" harmonics that Rory also employed. While Rory influenced many people to pick up a guitar, I don't think he changed how people "played" the guitar. Am I wrong on this? I hope my fellow guitarist will weigh in. By the way, I'm high on Buchanan right now, but he was not much of a songwriter at all, and as a performer, made Clapton look like Angus Young! But he was brilliant, but not in Rory's league as an all around artist and performer and singer. Nor did he have Rory's great mastery of acoustic and slide playing. I just think his innovations and techniques were ahead of his time and astounding. Funny, him and Rory played some gigs together, in fact, Buchanan opened for Rory at a show in California a week before I saw Rory in May 1985. I have never seen in print, either one mentioning the other. Strange. Anyway, check him out. But he's no Rory. Peace.
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Re: Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby Annie Elliott » 23 Feb 2015, 15:21

I'm not sure if Rory was a guitar innovator but I think he may have been a musical innovator. Especially in the Taste days musically and always but maybe more so when he was older lyrically. His refusal to release singles and his relative independence from record company contracts probably freed him to work more creatively than he otherwise might have. And being the prototypical Irish Bluesman surely must count for something.
Last edited by Annie Elliott on 15 Jun 2015, 12:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby mac » 23 Feb 2015, 17:37

Rory is the only one I've seen, do the fret the note and then pull the string with his right hand to get a wammy type sound, but I'm sure others did it.
I think in the 60s and 70s guys were discovering what an electric guitar was capable of, like pinched harmonics, with amps cranked they're goin to happen , so it's a question of learning how to get them and use them.
I don't think people copied one another they just discovered things around the same time.
Jimi was an inovator in the studio, but from what I've seen on you tube, Rory was in a different league live .
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Re: Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 24 Feb 2015, 05:50

Hmmm, I see Rory as an innovator as a guitarist, so my vote would be in the yes column.

Rory was completely self-taught, and consider the era and location where he grew up. Kids today can walk into just about any variety type store and get a cheap but playable guitar. They can log into a computer at home or school or the local library and pull up YouTube videos that can show them how to tune, hold, and play a guitar, or print out the tabs to a favorite song and figure it out. Or watch a dvd, even a VHS tape of someone playing some favorite tune, and they can stop, slow, pause, and endlessly repeat a section or phrase, and take their time to learn it for themselves. And a kid doesn't generally have to go far to hear and see someone local play a guitar- we all know people who can play a guitar, not like Rory, but guitar certainly isn't a novelty instrument, not these days.

Rory didn't have that advantage, that luxury. In early interviews he would speak of going to movie matinees and seeing those old corny "singing cowboy" westerns and being taken with the sight and sound of the acoustic guitars he saw up there. Guitars must not have been that easy to find, because it seems he had to really work to get a decent one to learn on, and he worked to learn tunes off the radio. Can't pause or slow down or even repeat a tune on the radio. You would just have to wait for a given song to come up on a playlist if you wanted to hear it again.

I think of Rory as an innovator because he taught himself to play acoustic guitar with mostly his imagination, creativity, and God-given talent to lead him. And, he was perhaps not the very first, but I'd say one of the first to pick up an electric guitar and fingerpick it as one would more commonly see an acoustic player do. Again, nowadays it's not that unusual to see a rock or blues guitarist fingerpick an electric. But Rory was doing it in the 60s.

When I was really young, and this would be in the mid-late 50s in Los Angeles, I used to watch my uncle play guitar- a different style of guitar than most people probably would identify with, my uncle was Mexican, and he would play Mexican folk type music, ranchera music on an acoustic guitar. Guitars were not uncommon in Los Angeles. Guitars are fascinating, the almost endless combinations and the variety of sounds and tones a player could get from just bare hands and a wooden box with strings. My uncle was pretty good at getting beautiful sounds out of an acoustic guitar. He had a unique way of playing acoustic guitar. Years later I saw Rory playing that old Strat of his. Early 70s, and I saw Rory using some of the same techniques with his right hand fingers on the neck that I had only ever seen my uncle do on an old acoustic guitar. But the sounds and tones Rory got, I had never heard the like of on any other guitar before. I have seen other guitarists use those techniques since, but I had never seen anyone play an electric like Rory, except maybe Hendrix.


at 03.38

Roy Buchanan I think of as a contemporary of Rory's. Part of that same generation. Contemporaries in their fields. Sort of like Edison and Tesla. Sort of. 8-)

P.S. Capo,
In the book Riding Shotgun, Gerry does mention Rory and Roy Buchanan. I hesitate to mention it but for what it's worth, it's there.
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Re: Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby capo » 24 Feb 2015, 10:37

Thanks so much Cynthia for the heads up about Roy and Rory spending a evening together listening to music. And from our "favorite" book too! :) Great points also on Rory's playing style, though I think some call it "Chicken Picking", with or without a pick and using all your fingers, James Burton, Buchanan and others employed this style early on. Everybody copied everybody in some fashion or another, which is natural.
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Re: Was Rory An Innovator As A Guitarist?

Postby SUBY1974 » 24 Feb 2015, 13:10

For me Rory is an innovator of the guitar because he had his own distinct music sound. His guitar developed its own sound and he had his own style of playing. Its the same with Brian May. I read how Brian May's guitar was constructed to produce that distinct Queen sound like no other. Also Rory carved his own guitar from his own blood and sweat as they say. Subrata.x
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