Frank Zappa was a prodigy with his exceptional guitar-playing skills. He often revolved around jazz, rock, and classical, and experimentation with blending various genres together. His guitar skills were unlike anyone else’s, and his lyrics often showcased satirical subjects.
Zappa was not an easy subject to impress. Also, he was harsh with his words and while giving thoughts on his contemporaries, others were tarnished. He had a lot of exposure to working with a lot of musicians and industry professionals. This gave him insights into a lot of things. This is why, he had a career full of hits, experimentation, and innovation.
On top of that, he was known for his guitar skills. Even the arrangement, and production of music, he could do all of them. Being a legendary guitarist himself, he has always been asked about his favorite guitarists. But as usual, he was quite savage when it came to giving an answer.
Back in the 1970s, Zappa was asked about some of his contemporaries. It was a quite difficult thing for him because he was asked about Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and many more. About Jimi, he said, “I knew Jimi, And I think the best thing you could say about Jimi was: there was a man who shouldn’t use drugs.”
But again, he has also praised Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, and many more. But, when it comes to his favorites, he revealed there are Jeff Beck, Johnny Watson, and Allan Holdsworth.
When he talked about Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, he said, “Well, my original favourite guitar player was Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson not from a technical standpoint but from a listening to what his notes meant in the context in which they were played, and also Guitar Slim who was the first guitar player I ever heard that had distortion — even during the 50s. In a strange way I think I probably derive more of my style from his approach to the guitar from the solos I heard then.”
He has talked about Holdsworth. Zappa says he is one guy whom he respects a lot. He went, “Well, there’s one other guy whose work I know should be included in that list who I respect and that’s Allan Holdsworth.”
Another one is Jeff Beck. Frank said he likes the melodic conception of Jeff Beck. Jeff is a great guitarist, and to be in the limelight of Frank is a great deal in itself. About Jeff, he commented, “One of my favorite guitar players on the planet. From a melodic standpoint and just in terms of the conception of what he plays. He’s fabulous. I like Jeff.”
Zappa didn’t listen to rock and roll music. He was not impressed by rock guitarists. But looks like he did have a small spot for some of the rock and roll artists.