Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Hank Marvin, Brian May and Slash are just some of the outstanding guitar heroes you will have the chance to experience all in the same show.
The Story of Guitar Heroes comes to Horsham’s Capitol on Thursday, July 4, the product of a bit of late-night inspiration for show creator and performer Phil Walker who will be bringing his band to the venue.
“The show was my idea, being the guitar nut that I am,” says Phil. “I had been gigging about six years ago when I came home at about two o’clock in the morning, and I put the TV on and it was about all the guitar heroes at the BBC.
“I thought wouldn’t it be great if you could see all these guitar heroes in one show – which of course you can’t because some of them are no longer with us. But I started thinking about it and I started putting pen to paper and working out how to do it.
“I didn’t want us to do a tribute show. I don’t like the looky-likey thing. We don’t dress up and I look stupid in a wig! I was thinking more about the sound and the ambience that we were going to create. I am a big collector of guitars as well, and this would be a good way of using them. I am up to about 27 now, but each is different.”
And that’s the point. As Phil says, you have got to be using the right guitar for the particular guitar hero you are paying homage to. Hank Marvin, for instance, would just be wrong if you gave him the wrong guitar.
“I think in the show we are close to 30 guitar heroes now. The big ones are people like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Hank Marvin, and you need the right guitar for each of them.
“Jimi Hendrix was really flamboyant as a player, a really flamboyant performer. He was not afraid of noise on the guitar. We control it but we do try to portray it as well. The guitar is like a wild animal for Jimi Hendrix and we try to get that across as well.”
Eric Clapton is of course completely different: “He has got a certain vibrato that he does with his fingers. It is all tone led with Clapton. He is a very controlled player. He could be quite raucous in his Cream days, but with Layla, if you take the second part, it is all very controlled.
“Mark Knopfler… we do Sultans of Swing in the show and I love that song. Instead of playing with a plectrum, you get to play with your fingers, and it gives it a completely different sound altogether. He uses a pick on Expresso Love, but otherwise 95 per cent of the time he is using his fingers, and I think it gives it a softer sound. He is using the fleshy part of his fingers, and I think that’s what gives him a warmer sound.”
And yes, Phil has got a particular favourite: “One of my most favourite songs is the hardest one to play, a song by Albert Lee called Country Boy which is a very fast country picking song.
“We also do a little bit of the Stones. Myself and one of the others do Honky Tonk Women. Without Keith Richards, there would not be a lot of the other guitar players that we have got out there. He is not known as a blistering lead player, but the chunky rhythm parts that he plays have shaped music. With Ronnie Wood, he is magic.”