Keith Richards names “the best rhythm guitar playing” in history

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Mastering the rhythm guitar is a craft in its own league. Aspiring guitar wizards often dream of shredding solos at lightning speed on stage.

Yet, the most legendary guitarists have usually dedicated years to perfecting their rhythm before venturing into the realm of solo performances. Keith Richards, a maestro of rhythm guitar, had his own unique style. He acknowledged one musician as a standout in the rhythm guitar world.

Richards himself wasn’t a stranger to the spotlight, known for delivering some of the most electrifying lead parts in The Stones’ hits. His duel with Brian Jones and Mick Taylor yielded iconic moments, like the piercing lead in ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.

Beyond his lead prowess, Richards had a knack for crafting guitar riffs that defined an era. From the late ’60s to the early ’70s, he churned out unforgettable riffs, from the ominous vibes of ‘Gimme Shelter’ to the revolutionary ‘Satisfaction’ riff, all achieved with his standard and distinctive five-string open tuning.

Richards, with his roots in rhythm, preferred syncing with drummer Charlie Watts over showing off. He might have taken notes from icons like Chuck Berry, but for Richards, the true essence of guitar playing was about propelling a band forward, setting the rhythm that keeps the music alive and kicking.

Before Berry started steering rock towards a bolder path, the Everly Brothers had put a melodic spin on the genre. Phil and Don Everly, with their acoustic rhythm guitars, subtly drove classics like ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’, blending their harmonious vocals with a rock-country fusion.

Although Richards had a penchant for a darker guitar tone, he held immense respect for the Everlys’ prowess. He was in awe of their live performance during The Stones’ first US tour. In his memoir ‘Life’, Richards hailed Don Everly’s rhythm guitar as the finest he’d ever witnessed, marveling at the duo’s impeccable guitar work and vocal harmony.

While Richards drew his primary inspiration from blues legends like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, he also absorbed lessons from the Everly Brothers. This influence is subtly present in some of The Stones’ country-rock tracks, like ‘Wild Horses’, where Richards occasionally lets the acoustic guitar resonate with the lyrics. The Stones might be known for their dark edge, but the influence of the Everlys shows that their music also had a lighter, more nuanced side.

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