Keith Richards Praises Don Everly’s Unmatched Rhythm Guitar Mastery

by Madonna

Rhythm guitar, often overshadowed by its flashier counterpart, carries a distinctive art that only the seasoned maestros truly appreciate. While aspiring guitar virtuosos may dream of dazzling solos with a million notes a minute, the legends in the guitar realm understand the paramount importance of honing rhythm skills over decades. Keith Richards, renowned for his unparalleled rhythm guitar playing and occasional lead moments, holds a particular artist in high regard as one of the finest in the business.

Despite Richards’ own iconic lead contributions, evidenced by the piercing tones in ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ during the period between Brian Jones and Mick Taylor’s tenure in The Rolling Stones, his mastery extends beyond the lead. Akin to summoning magic from thin air, Richards crafted monumental riffs, from the haunting ‘Gimme Shelter’ to the groundbreaking ‘Satisfaction,’ showcasing his versatility in both standard and five-string open tunings.

Richards’ strength, however, emanated from his rhythmic prowess, often harmonizing with Charlie Watts rather than seizing the spotlight. Having studied under luminaries like Chuck Berry, Richards understood that the right strumming technique could propel any competent band forward with momentum at every turn.

Before Chuck Berry steered rock towards a heavier direction, The Everly Brothers, Phil and Don Everly, infused a melodic twist into rock and roll. Famed for anchoring their songs with acoustic rhythm guitars, the duo’s harmonious twin lines gave depth to classics like ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream.’

While Richards inevitably veered towards a darker musical direction, he held immense respect for The Everlys. During his inaugural American tour with The Rolling Stones, Richards was awe-struck upon witnessing The Everlys’ live performance. In his memoir, “Life,” Richards acknowledged Don Everly’s unparalleled rhythm guitar playing, describing it as the best he had ever heard. Despite their politeness and distant demeanor, The Everlys left an indelible impression on Richards.

Drawing lessons from blues icons like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters for his classics, Richards incorporated Everlys’ influence into The Stones’ repertoire. In tracks like ‘Wild Horses,’ Richards subtly echoed the Everlys’ acoustic mastery, infusing the song with occasional nudges to complement the lyrics. While The Rolling Stones were known for their signature darkness, the Everlys’ influence revealed a nuanced light shining beneath the surface of their musical expression.

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