That time Robert Randolph told me that he was inspired by the passion and soul of Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton Back in April of 2003 I did my first interview with pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph, who was just 24 at the time. At one point in the conversation I asked him about the time five years earlier when somebody gave him a tape of Stevie Ray Vaughan, which made a huge impression … Continue reading That time Robert Randolph told me that he was inspired by the passion and soul of Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I asked Leslie West if he was excited to hook up with Jack Bruce in West, Bruce & Laing

By Steve Newton Most of the music news regarding the passing last month of guitar legend Leslie West has focused on his work with Mountain, and justifiably so, since that band recorded timeless tracks like "Mississippi Queen" and "Nantucket Sleighride" and "Theme for an Imaginary Western". But after Mountain produced those gems West and Mountain … Continue reading That time I asked Leslie West if he was excited to hook up with Jack Bruce in West, Bruce & Laing

Ten weeks after Randy Rhoads’ death Ozzy told me that the fallen guitar hero could do anything

By Steve Newton I did my first interview with Ozzy Osbourne in early June of 1982, ten weeks after his beloved guitarist, Randy Rhoads, perished in a fiery plane crash at the age of 25. No wonder he sounded bummed out. Rhoads' place on the Diary of a Madman Tour had been taken first by … Continue reading Ten weeks after Randy Rhoads’ death Ozzy told me that the fallen guitar hero could do anything

That time Leslie West told me that Ozzy Osbourne said Mountain really turned him on to American rock

By Steve Newton If you liked Black Sabbath in the seventies, you probably liked Mountain as well. Both bands were well versed in the art of the killer riff. Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Mountain's Leslie West were good buddies, as West told me during an interview in 2002. He also said that Ozzy Osbourne once … Continue reading That time Leslie West told me that Ozzy Osbourne said Mountain really turned him on to American rock

Leslie West’s absence from the Rock Hall is as shocking as the exclusion of Rory, Johnny, and Link

By Steve Newton Since the news hit yesterday about the death of beloved guitar legend Leslie West, accolades have been pouring in from some of the world's finest pickers. "Leslie's playing and sound was just superb," said Tony Iommi, whose band Black Sabbath used to open for West's group Mountain. "One of the GOAT," declared … Continue reading Leslie West’s absence from the Rock Hall is as shocking as the exclusion of Rory, Johnny, and Link

Leslie West dead at 75: the Mountain man leaves a legacy of timeless guitar riffs and killer tone

By Steve Newton 2020 is apparently not done taking our guitar heroes. After the devastating death of Eddie Van Halen on October 6 of this year, now we've lost another six-string legend in Leslie West. As I reported yesterday, West had been on a ventilator the last couple of days, after his heart gave out, … Continue reading Leslie West dead at 75: the Mountain man leaves a legacy of timeless guitar riffs and killer tone

Leslie West, guitar legend of Mountain fame, gravely ill after his heart stopped

By Steve Newton Fans of Leslie West should send thoughts and prayers to the American rock-guitar legend. Yesterday West's brother, Larry West Weinstein, posted on Facebook that Leslie was gravely ill and near death after his heart stopped, and that he was put on a ventilator. "I am asking for all your prayers," wrote Weinstein. … Continue reading Leslie West, guitar legend of Mountain fame, gravely ill after his heart stopped

That time Joe Satriani told me that he strove for a live sound worthy of Yes, Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead

By Steve Newton I did the first of my eight interviews with Joe Satriani back in January of 1990, when he was touring behind his awesome Flying in a Blue Dream album. As the conversation wound down I asked him if it was tricky controlling the acoustics at some venues, playing at the volume that … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me that he strove for a live sound worthy of Yes, Pink Floyd, and the Grateful Dead

The best guitarist you’ve never heard of, Ireland’s Joe Hodgson, idolized Gallagher and Moore

By Steve Newton Ireland has spawned two of the greatest rock guitarists of all time in Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. Yet for some unfathomable reason, neither of them have garnered the massive, worldwide fame their dedicated followers know is their due. In a perfect world, their names would be as recognizable as those of … Continue reading The best guitarist you’ve never heard of, Ireland’s Joe Hodgson, idolized Gallagher and Moore

That time bass legend Tommy Shannon told me who his favourite musician of all time was

By Steve Newton Tommy Shannon is perhaps best known as the bassist for Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, but dedicated blues-guitar freaks will also know him as the guy who brought the bottom end on Johnny Winter's first three albums. I interviewed Shannon back in 1998 when he was in the band Storyville, and … Continue reading That time bass legend Tommy Shannon told me who his favourite musician of all time was

That time I called up Albert King and asked how life was treatin’ him these days and he said “shit”

By Steve Newton On August 18, 1990, I did my one and only interview with blues legend Albert King. I was very fortunate to have scored that interview, because a little over two years later he was gone. I called Albert up when he was on the road in Poughkeepsie, New York, and asked him … Continue reading That time I called up Albert King and asked how life was treatin’ him these days and he said “shit”

Johnny Winter documentary underscores the ineptitude of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

By Steve Newton I watched the 2016 Johnny Winter documentary, Down & Dirty, on Amazon Prime the other night. I quite enjoyed it; thought it was a fine representation of the albino blues master's remarkable career, especially his twilight years. It was a joy to see Winter undertake his final tour, playing the best he … Continue reading Johnny Winter documentary underscores the ineptitude of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

That time Eric Carr told me that new Kiss guitarist Mark St. John was “absolutely astounding”

By Steve Newton I interviewed Kiss drummer Eric Carr in August of 1984, shortly before the band released its Animalize LP. You may recall that album for the hit single "Heaven's on Fire". I doubt you'll recall it for much more. Anyway, at one point in the conversation I asked Carr about the band's new guitarist, … Continue reading That time Eric Carr told me that new Kiss guitarist Mark St. John was “absolutely astounding”

That time I asked Randy Hansen what he thought was so great about Hendrix when he first heard him

By Steve Newton Few guitar players have proven as influential as Jimi Hendrix. As the years go passing by, the rock legend's influence just keeps growing and growing. Back in 2001 I interviewed Randy Hansen, the world's best-known Hendrix tribute artist, and at one point I asked him what he thought was so great about … Continue reading That time I asked Randy Hansen what he thought was so great about Hendrix when he first heard him

That time the Cult’s Billy Duffy told me that Thin Lizzy was his number-one “teenie band”, and that it all boils down to the Les Paul

By Steve Newton Way back on April 7 of 1989 I interviewed the Cult guitarist Billy Duffy. That was three days before the band released its fourth album, the Bob Rock-produced Sonic Temple, which would go platinum on the strength of tunes like "Fire Woman", "Sweet Soul Sister", and "Edie (Ciao Baby)". At one point … Continue reading That time the Cult’s Billy Duffy told me that Thin Lizzy was his number-one “teenie band”, and that it all boils down to the Les Paul

Guitar wizard Dave Martone calls his mentor Joe Satriani a member of “the Good Guy Club”

By Steve Newton I interviewed Dave Martone last week for a story in the Georgia Straight's annual Best of Vancouver issue, because when I think about who might be the best guitarist in Vancouver, he always comes to mind. At one point in the conversation I asked Martone about his relationship with Joe Satriani, because … Continue reading Guitar wizard Dave Martone calls his mentor Joe Satriani a member of “the Good Guy Club”

If Joe Bonamassa had his way, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossoff, and Danny Gatton would all be in the Rock Hall

By Steve Newton The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for its class of 2020 was broadcast on HBO last weekend. I didn't watch it. Nothing against inductees like T-Rex and the Doobie Brothers, but when somebody like Whitney Houston gets the nod over 2020 nominees like Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest, I … Continue reading If Joe Bonamassa had his way, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossoff, and Danny Gatton would all be in the Rock Hall

That time I asked Gary Moore why he’d been in and out of Thin Lizzy so many times

By Steve Newton One of the biggest concert thrills of my life was seeing an on-fire Gary Moore playing guitar with Thin Lizzy when they warmed up for Styx in Vancouver on October 12, 1978. After Lizzy's astounding set I encountered Scott Gorham hanging out in front of a concession, having a smoke, listening to … Continue reading That time I asked Gary Moore why he’d been in and out of Thin Lizzy so many times

That time Joe Satriani told me that he wanted Flying in a Blue Dream to be something heavy and deep

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Joe Satriani in January of 1990 his Flying in a Blue Dream album had been out for only two months, and word had gotten around about what an ambitious project it was, clocking in at nearly 65 minutes. (His previous full-length disc, Surfing With the … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me that he wanted Flying in a Blue Dream to be something heavy and deep

That time Joss Stone told me that the music kinda just falls out of Ernie Isley’s fingers

By Steve Newton I wasn't a close follower of soul crooner Joss Stone when I hooked up with her by phone in Brussels, Belgium, in September of 2012.  But I knew that she had a great voice, and that she'd sung lead on two tracks on Jeff Beck's latest album, Emotion & Commotion. Speaking of … Continue reading That time Joss Stone told me that the music kinda just falls out of Ernie Isley’s fingers

That time Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton told me that Rory Gallagher was the guy who made him pick up a guitar

By Steve Newton Back in 2005 I did my first interview with Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton, who I'd been a fan of ever since I heard him wailin' away with KK on the Screaming for Vengeance album of '82. After asking him what his fave Priest albums were, and which of his solos he … Continue reading That time Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton told me that Rory Gallagher was the guy who made him pick up a guitar

That time Jack Blades told me about the different playing styles of Night Ranger guitarists Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1984 I interviewed Night Ranger vocalist-bassist Jack Blades while his band was accompanying ZZ Top on its Eliminator Tour. I wasn't the biggest Night Ranger fan in the world back then. In the midst of the hard rock/metal craze I was more into Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and … Continue reading That time Jack Blades told me about the different playing styles of Night Ranger guitarists Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson

Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

By Steve Newton One of the biggest regrets of my career in rock journalism--and there aren't that many, believe it or not--was never getting the opportunity to interview Eddie Van Halen. I did get to chat with his big brother Alex once, and he gave me a really great interview, but it just wasn't the … Continue reading Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

That time Vivian Campbell told me that he got paid less than the road crew in Dio

By Steve Newton I interviewed Irish guitar hero Vivian Campbell in September of 1992, three weeks after his 30th birthday. Five months earlier he'd joined Def Leppard, one of the world's most popular rock bands, apparently being chosen over the likes of John Sykes, Gary Hoey, and Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden. So no wonder … Continue reading That time Vivian Campbell told me that he got paid less than the road crew in Dio

That time Colin James told me that playing electric slide-guitar was a challenge for him

By Steve Newton Back in August of 1995 I interviewed Canadian blues-rocker Colin James, who I'd been a fan of since his self-titled 1988 debut album. At the time he was touring behind his fourth album, Bad Habits, which saw him playing quite a bit of slide guitar on tunes like "Real Stuff" and "Walkin' … Continue reading That time Colin James told me that playing electric slide-guitar was a challenge for him

That time Kim Simmonds told me that Eric Clapton was the greatest white blues guitar player he’d ever seen

By Steve Newton I was a huge Foghat fan in the seventies. I couldn't get enough of their hard-driving boogie-blues on albums like Energized and Rock and Roll Outlaws. When I learned that most of their original members had come from a band called Savoy Brown I went and checked them out as well, and … Continue reading That time Kim Simmonds told me that Eric Clapton was the greatest white blues guitar player he’d ever seen

That time Joe Satriani told me how an unsolicited Mastercard application got Not of This Earth off the ground

By Steve Newton You know how you're always getting those unsolicited credit-card applications in the mail? The ones that say "Dear [insert your name here]. You've been approved for a shitload of money, so just sign up here." Well, Joe Satriani got one of those once, and it turned out to be exactly what he … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me how an unsolicited Mastercard application got Not of This Earth off the ground