If I had to single out one and only one, it would be Rich Nosek, a guy who played bass in a band that I played with in Champaign, IL. He sat me down and showed me how to figure out the tricky parts off of
records (yes, LPs, this was the early '70s). Watching him gave me the confidence to tackle all the intricate stuff that, up until then, I thought was way over my head. I didn't have a choice, he would say," Here's how you do it, now you do it." In the beginning I would butcher it - how those guys in that band put up with me I haven't the foggiest! But it was the best on-the-job training that a musician could have - a constant, daily boot in the ass. Thanks to Rich, wherever he is now.
Jim Henson. I used to get night terrors from listening to "The Frog Prince", a muppet/human interactive TV special that was dubbed to an LP. I was 4 years old, and the underscore scared the underoos off of this kid. Between the pictures on the album jacket, the dark cello/horn underscore, and the vivid imagination of a 4 year old, just messed my noodle up. Later on, when I could appreciate Muppets as foam, I would still hear the underscore in my dreams.
What would I be doing if Jim Henson didn't exist? Sleeping well.
George Martin (Beatles producer) - he showed that you can push the limits of creativity without losing musicality.
Phil Keaggy has had probably the greatest influence on my musical style and career. Not only is Phil one of the most talented and versatile guitarists on the planet (he can play any style of music fluently on
both acoustic and electric guitars as well as bass, he does a great Paul McCartney on bass) but his sincere humility and humble attitude is an amazing thing for someone so thoroughly talented and supremely blessed. Praise God.
Neal Schon. This guy does it all...instrumental, pop rock, solo artist, team player...puts out like three albums a year...not to mention his playing.
The single most influential person in shaping my musical style has been Bruce Cockburn, whose music I first heard around 1980. It was Bruce who gave me permission to 'color outside of the lines' as a songwriter, and his impeccably fluid fingerpicking guitar style really opened things up for me as a player. To this day, I will occasionally have people come up to me after one of my concerts and ask me if I've ever listened to Bruce or to comment that my style reminds them a little of his. That always brings a smile to my face. To me, it's the highest of compliments.
I'd been playing about seven years when I first heard Bruce, so I would have most certainly continued on - I just would have been a lot different player today.
This might sound boorish but, I can't think of any particular person that had that much impact on me to make me start playing. I loved early Godzilla movies - I think this was just my way of being big, loud and destructive. I guess KISS was my first fave group but, I don't seem to sound anything like KISS. I know it sounds sad that I grew up in a world without heros... (maybe it was KISS). Could've been Judas Preist, I saw those guys live about 40 times and learned every song from their first 10 albums.
The most influential person of my musical career would probably have to be my uncle Arthur. He was moving out of his parents house (my grandparents) and gave my brother, sister, and I an electric guitar and amplifier to take with us, cuz he couldn't take it himself (he only had room for the Gretsch!). He was one of those 1970s Pink Floyd hippie rockers whose musical tastes ranged from Cyndi Lauper to Black Sabbath. The first time I heard music through headphones was at his apartment in NYC when he played me The Wall from Pink Floyd--the first music I ever heard through headphones. Of course I have many influential heroes, Steve Morse, Pete Townshend, Pierre Bensusan, and my guitar teacher John Whitney, but if my uncle hadn't given me the guitar, I don't think that I would have thought of it myself. If he hadn't existed, then I probably would have ended up working at UPS -- they have good benefits, fat salaries, and promising stock options.
Uli Jon Roth - because of his amazing tone, emotion and technique. Every note that he plays is filled with
emotion and is there for a reason. His compositional skills are also amazing. I don't listen to him anymore but
when I was building my own style he was "god" even though it seemed as almost no one knew about him.
It would have to be my Dad (and my Mom). Even though they weren't particularly musical, the way their influence was felt was more to just let me be me. They encouraged me to do what I wanted and to be myself in life. So many parents want to force their kids into predetermined roles of who the parents and their particular culture want them to be. So this just squashes the creative forces and we get societal drones! Thanks to my folks I have become me!
To narrow it down from a few choices that in themselves were hard as I feel that everything in general influences what I do, the answer is Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Not only his guitar playing is outstanding, he is one of the only guitarists who is perfect as far as intonation goes - everytime. His composition style is
developed and above all that, his attitude, presence and personality make for the ulimate guitarist in my book. A rare breed of a rock star in the grey world of hard rock as we currently know it in the US.
This question is a thinker, for many individuals have inspired me to higher places. I have given this question very much thought and detail, and must remain loyal to the person thought of right off the bat. Jimi Hendrix! In most every aspect he changed the world of guitar playing. With his broad musical palette, his tones, innovations, chord voicings, attitude, stage presence, and just his being, he forged this new "sound" onward to a new dimension! I am sure that almost 98.5% of everybody else's answer will have to say Jimi also, but this is why he must be named! What would any modern (or vintage/classic) electric guitarist sound like without this man? We would have had no Mr. Trower, or no Mr. Van Halen as we know them . Steve Vai's clean "strat tone" would be just a little different and maybe, just maybe, those voicings would not be as clear and cool!
Hendrix was, and is today, an endless spirit. A spirit that has been felt by so many, a fire that is in us all and that no other match can out burn, but continue to light the way and shine on brightly. I feel his contribution to music has made the most impact on mine, and every guitar player/musician's musical style/career (whether jazz/blues/rock/other) I don't believe any of us would be doing what we are doing (like we are doing it) if he did not exist! To contradict in any terms would be to blatantly LIE!
You'd probably expect me to say 'Vai, Satriani and Johnson'! But, that's actually not true. Sure, we are all inspired by the likes of these great guys, but for me it was only in small quantity. More like listening to some cool riffs that these guys play, learning them, and applying them to your own style. The problem was...what is 'my own style'? That is, until I met this guy, Brett Turner. I had been chosen as a replacement guitarist for consistently giging band, as he went away to GIT. Years later we actually met, and ended up on the same side of the stage; same band. Only difference was that he was now wielding a bass. I was considerably younger than everyone else in this group and Brett kinda took me under-his-wing and before you knew it, I felt like I was his protege.
This is where the true learning came into play. You see...with that band, no one was better than anyone else. Everyone had chops for miles! The problem with me was that I was not a mature musician. I was strictly into flash, and impressing the audience. This was the first time that anyone said to me, "Kid, we know that you can play...no question there. But you must learn when to unleash it, and when to hold back." From this and other late night ventures, I learned from him that mature musicians' consider the song...not the solo. This made sense to me. Who wants to hear someone come out and play real fast all the time? Not me. There's no build-up...no anticipation...no tension...no release. (Wait, I swear that I'm not talking about sex...really. Well, actually the same rule applies, come to think about it.) I learned how to analyze music and composition. Why certain things work, and why some don't. But most importantly, he showed me how to find my own style. He basically said, to stick with what you're best at, and develop it to the outer reaches of your imagination. To try different approaches to the same thing. And to never have the mind-set that you have 'mastered' anything. That way, you're always learning...always improving. I took these philosophies very seriously over the years and 'practiced what he preached' and eventually it became a normal state-of-mind. I see and hear things a lot differently than I used to, years ago. The only reason that this is worth mentioning is that some people never break out of that mold.
In summary, I feel that I'm constantly progressing due to his 'words-of-wisdom' and I feel very comfortable and confidant with certain aspects of my playing and composition. All which, maybe would've never have happened if I never had 'dropped the ego', and listened. Truly listened.