(Photo: Daniel Coston)
Driving home from a gig in Mobile yesterday, Mark and I put together a list of our top ten favorite slide guitar players (bottleneck or steel). Here’s what we came up with, with a link to a song for each:
1. Mick Taylor
- Beautiful tone and exceptional vibrato. "Love in Vain"
2. Ry Cooder
- To me he's got the hugest slide sound. His technique and vocabulary are so refined that he's impossible to copy. "Get Rhythm"
3. Lowell George
- For his economy of notes and his use of compression and sustain. His rhythm playing was impeccable. "Rock and Roll Doctor"
4. Mississippi Fred McDowell
- He incorporated bottleneck slide into funky, hypnotic, rhythmic riffs. "Write Me a Few of Your Lines"
5. Sonny Landreth
- He's taken everything one step further, doing stuff that no one has ever done before, including fretting behind the slide. He's influenced the whole next generation of players. "Bayou Teche"
6. Blind Willie Johnson
- One of the earliest recorded slide players and still one of the greatest. His music was beyond genre and beyond time. "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"
7. David Lindley
- He brought the lap steel, kicking and screaming, into rock and roll in the 1970s, and later inspired a renaissance of Weissenborn acoustic Hawaiian guitars. "Mercury Blues"
8. Jerry Byrd
- He recorded with Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and hundreds of others. He was the absolute master of the lap steel guitar and the source of most of the technique I've managed to absorb. "My Little Chickadee"
9. Josh Graves
- He established the Dobro in bluegrass music. Yet his sound with Flatt and Scruggs was so gritty and bluesy that Carl Smith once told him, "If they ever figure out what you're playing they'll fire you." "Fireball Mail"
10. The Campbell Brothers
- There's some amazing music being played in the Sacred Steel churches, and the Campbell Brothers -- Chuck on pedal steel and Darick on lap steel -- are making some of the best of it. "The Judgment"
Of course, this list barely scratches the surface. I can think of many other great players who deserve to appear on it, and probably you can too. If so, please leave a comment. Whose name would you add and why?