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The Magnificent Seven - The Original Guitar Heroes!

Published: Mon August 11, 2008  News Feed

Inspired by our recent article about Peter Green...we decided to look for the original 1967 article that highlighted the original Guitar Heroes of the Swingin' London...here it is!

A few months ago, we wrote an article about Peter Green, "The Greatest Forgotten Guitar Hero". Well, as we mentioned, Peter Green was hailed one of the seven original Guitar Heroes in a music paper article back in 1967. So here, we'll reproduce this article in its entirety, for your reading pleasure. And because vintage-style guitars are a big thing with us here at Dolphin right now, nothing better than take a trip down memory lane!

For guitarists, this article - reproduced here word-by-word - offers a fascinating insight of how things were in 1967: Jimmy Page was still a relative unknown, Peter Green was one of the hottest new guitarists, and Jimi Hendrix was just a contender to the throne of Eric "God" Clapton.

For a generation who's growing up with the virtual guitars of "Guitar Hero", this article could be an education: those 7 guys were the original "Guitar Heroes". Without them, directly or indirectly, maybe the electric guitar wouldn't have been as fascinating to the kids who grew up listening to rock'n'roll and felt inspired to pick up one and form a band. Without them the Fender Stratocaster or the Gibson Les Paul wouldn't have become as iconic as they are today, without those magnificent seven original guitar heroes, music would be different today, and legions of other famous guitarists and bands who came after them wouldn't have been the same - or exist at all.

Those are the seven guitarists who changed rock'n'roll...so read on!

"The Magnificent Seven", Melody Maker article, Autumn 1967

Guitar-slinging heroes with sideburns, wild and woolly clothes, blazing away on all six strings, are a phenomenon peculiar to the rootin,' tootin' British pop scene. They set trends, make or break groups, and draw almost fanatical fan worship.

They march along, shoulder to shoulder down the mainstreet of beat, profess admiration for each other's style, while under the surface bubbles the belief among each one that HE is the fastest and the bluesiest. Who are these young men of the groups who beat up towns the length and breadth of the country every night with a barrage of note-bending, feedback, and fuzztone? Here is a breakdown of the Magnificent Seven, their origins and styles. It is compiled by Chris Welch.

Eric Clapton

Eric is the king of Britain's blues guitarists and is raved about even in America, the home of blues.

At one time, young English fans called him "God" and when he was playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers was followed from gig to gig. He even set trends for fashions, widely popularizing military uniforms, sideboards and moustaches.

Today the first heat of fan fanaticism has mercifully cooled off, and Eric is accepted as just being great. He was born at Ripley, Surrey, on October 8, 1944, was first inspired by Chuck Berry and began playing when studying to be a stained glass designer at Kingston Art School.

He formed a group with Tom McGuinness which failed. Tom joined Manfred Mann, while Eric joined The Yardbirds, having met Keith Relf at art school. The group became successful after replacing The Rolling Stones at the Crawdaddy Club, Richmond. Their first record was "I Wish You Would," in May 1964.

Eric later split with them to roam about the world, join John Mayall, then finally form the Cream in 1966 with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

Jimi Hendrix

If anybody can claim to Clapton's throne, it is American Jimi Hendrix, who has settled in Britain, or rather stirred up Britain with the sensational Experience.

Jimi has both the feedback violence of Pete Townshend and the blues of Clapton, combined with a flair for showmanship that is earning him the hero worship that Eric held.

He was born in Seattle, Washington in 1945. He left school early and joined the Army. Later he toured the Southern States of America in a vaudeville act. He was discovered by the Isley Brothers and joined their band. Since then he has played with B. B. King, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Chuck Jackson and Jackie Wilson.

In New York he joined Joey Dee and the Starlighters during the Twist era. In August 1966 he went solo with a backing group in Greenwich Village. Ex-Animal Chas Chandler persuaded him to come to England where he formed a group with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding.

Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend and the Who's influence on scores of British groups is imponderable. Townshend was the first to use feedback effectively, although nowadays it is difficult to recall the sensation early records like "My Generation" caused.

The wild and riotous Townshend approach seemed to open the floodgates of musical violence and nothing has been the same since.

And few young players, even today, can avoid the temptation of employing the famous Townshend arm-swinging movements now and again. Unlike the rest of the Magnificent Seven, Pete hasn't flitted from group to group or indulged in much mass solo playing.

Songwriting and the group sound are more important to him. He has been solidly with the Who since they were the High Numbers.

Full title Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born in Chiswick in 1945. His father played in dance bands and Pete's early musical tastes included Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and the Beatles. He also likes jazz and classical composers.

Jeff Beck

Jeff is the enigma of the seven. At one time his style was clearly cut, and was hailed as one of the best blues guitarists.

But then he went through periods of change in an attempt to create a style that owed nothing to Clapton and was more commercially acceptable on the pop front. At the moment he is fronting his own group with singer Rod Stewart, producing records like "Hi Ho Silver Lining," and "Tallyman" without being blues or pop.

But Jeff is still a fine guitarist and made a huge name for himself while playing exiting music with the Yardbirds.

Jeff was born in Wallington, Surrey in 1944. He was educated, like so many other guitar-slingers, at art school, this time in Wimbledon. His king, Buddy Guy, Les Paul and one of his favorite British groups is the Who. He has considerable speed and ideas on guitar and it remains how he will develop.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy is the dark horse of the Seven. Not so well known among the fans because sicne he replaced Jeff Beck with the Yardbirds, the group have worked mostly in in America and the group have not had an English hit for many months.

But Jimmy is highly rated by his fellow guitar slingers, and those fans who appreciate his very freaky style.

He also plays sitar and has a big interest in electronics. Jimmy, aged 22 himself, first made a name for himself as a session musician, but when he was only 14 he was playing with Neil Christian and the Crusaders.

His school friend was Jeff Beck and originally joined the Yardbirds on bass guitar to replace Paul Samwell-Smith. When Jeff left he switched to lead again.

When the Yardbirds come marching back from America fans will be able to watch one of the meanest of the seven in action again.

Steve Winwood

Although Steve does not play guitar as much since he switched to electric organ, while he was with Spencer Davis, he was rated as one of the best blues guitarists in the country, as well as being one of the youngest.

Heavily influenced by Eric Clapton and Clapton's influences like B. B. King and Buddy Guy, Steve also developed his own sound and was noted for his trick of singing and playing in unison, which used to be electrically exiting.

Steve was born in Birmingham in 1948 and went to Great Barr Comprehensive School. He made his first public appearance with his father's band when he was only nine years old, and later played in his brother Muff's band, before joining Spencer.

As well as becoming one of the seven as a guitarist Steve has also managed to sweep the board as a singer, pianist and organist, while getting by on vibes, bass guitar and drums.

He left Spencer's group earlier this year to form Traffic.

Peter Green

Peter Green is the newest, toughest and meanest of the guitar cowboys. He plays hard blues with no concessions. He built up his name among blues fans as Clapton's successor in the great blues breeding house, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

Peter was born in the East End of London in 1946 and lived there until he was nine and moved to Putney. When he was ten his brother gave him a Spanish guitar and he worked out a few chords. Later he switched to bass and when he was 15 earned pocket money playing with Bobby Denim. and the Dominoes.

He met John Mayall briefly but lost touch. After putting an advertisement in Melody Maker John called him up and said he had been looking for him. With breaks for working with Peter Bardens and the Shotgun Express, he was with until forming his group Fleetwood Mac, a success at the recent Windsor Jazz Festival.


If you too feel inspired by those guys, check Dolphin Music's excellent selection of electric guitars - the real deal!

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