Home » Keith Richards Declares the Pinnacle of Rhythm Guitar Playing in History

Keith Richards Declares the Pinnacle of Rhythm Guitar Playing in History

Decoding Keith Richards’ View on the Finest Rhythm Guitar Playing in History Being a rhythm guitar player requires a distinct skill set. While many aspiring guitarists dream of showcasing rapid solos on stage, the true greats spend years refining their rhythmic prowess before delving into solo performances. Keith Richards, known for his distinctive rhythm guitar style, has a unique perspective on who stands out as one of the best in the business.

Despite Richards’ reputation for lead guitar moments, particularly during the transition from Brian Jones to Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones, where he delivered fierce lead tones such as the iconic solo in ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ his forte lies in crafting compelling guitar riffs. Whether in standard tuning or his signature five-string open tuning, Richards contributed unforgettable riffs from the ominous ambiance of ‘Gimme Shelter’ to the horn-infused ‘Satisfaction’ that birthed hard rock.

Richards’ rhythmic inclination leaned towards synchronization with Charlie Watts rather than showboating. Studying under guitarists like Chuck Berry, he believed that strumming a guitar in the right way could provide any decent band with a sense of momentum, propelling the group forward at every juncture.

Before Chuck Berry influenced rock towards a heavier direction, The Everly Brothers added a melodic twist to rock and roll. Their signature acoustic rhythm guitars, anchoring songs like ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ with twin harmony lines, demonstrated their unique contribution to the genre.

Despite Richards’ inclination towards a darker musical direction, he held deep respect for The Everlys’ rhythmic prowess. On his first American tour with The Stones, Richards was awestruck when he witnessed The Everlys’ live performance. In his memoir “Life,” Richards emphasized the unmatched guitar chemistry within the band, especially praising Don Everly’s rhythm guitar playing as perfect and strategically positioned to complement their vocals. Despite the Everlys’ polite and distant demeanor, Richards acknowledged the profound impact of their rhythmic contributions.

While Richards drew inspiration from blues legends like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters for his classic compositions, he also integrated lessons learned from The Everlys. In several of The Stones’ country-rock songs, such as ‘Wild Horses,’ Richards’ guitar playing echoes the Everlys’ style, infusing occasional pushes on the acoustic guitar to complement the lyrics. Despite The Rolling Stones’ tendency to infuse their signature darkness into their music, the influence of The Everlys revealed a hidden light beneath the surface.

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