Dylan Goes Electric, 1965
Change is seldom easy. When Bob Dylan, the leading light of the post-Woody Guthrie folkies, made the bold move of plugging in at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965 (with Michael Bloomfield at his side), it didn’t go over so well with old-schoolers such as Pete Seeger—or with most of the audience, for that matter. Two years later, Simon & Garfunkel are on the same bill as Hendrix at Monterey, Jimi is playing Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along the Watchtower,” and folk rock is all the rage.
Jimmy Nolen Brings the Funk, 1965
On July 17, 1965, Soul Brother Number One, James Brown, released “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” and the style that became funk guitar was officially born. Armed with a Gibson ES-175, Brown’s guitarist, Jimmy Nolen (on his first recording date with the Godfather of Soul), took a simple E9 chord, added a dash of funky sixteenth-note spice, and the style that permeates everything from Madonna to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to U2 was hatched. According to Nolen, the original intent of those sixteenth notes was to keep “lazy” drummers locked to the groove back in the days when he was backing R&B stud, Johnny Otis.
Live at the Regal Released, 1965
Considered by many to be the defining moment for live blues, this brilliant 1964 Chicago performance showcases B.B. King’s awesome tone, attack, vibrato, dynamics, and showmanship. A must-have for anyone who plays the blues.
The Rolling Stones Get No “Satisfaction,” 1965
No one ever got as much out of three notes as Keith Richards did on “Satisfaction.” So simple any kid could learn it, the riff plays against the bass brilliantly, and it sits in the pocket like nobody’s business. One of rock’s most identifiable and classic riffs.
Marshall Debuts 100-watt Amp, 1965
Developed in 1965, and coinciding with the introduction of stackable 4x12 cabinets (typically an angled 1960A on top of a straight 1960B), the first 100-watt Marshall was essentially a souped-up JTM-45, featuring two ’45-style transformers and an extra pair of KT66 output tubes. But, while still in the prototype stage, designers Ken Bran and Dudley Craven switched to a solid-state rectifier. By the time the first production 100 watters rolled out later that year (equipped with a single output transformer), the amp had its own signature badass sound. Adopted immediately by Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton, the Marshall 100 watt became a legendary standard for high-volume rock.
“Eight Miles High” Released, 1966
Roger McGuinn pretty much invented jangle on this classic Byrds track, released on July 18, 1966. Sure, Bob Dylan wrote the lyric, and George Harrison played a Rickenbacker 12-string first, but McGuinn owns the tone. McGuinn’s wildest and most unique 12-string moment comes in the Coltrane-inspired solo on this tune—a moment that set the bar so high for electric-12 mayhem that no one has topped it.
Blues breakers with Eric Clapton Released, 1966
The July 1966 release of this John Mayall album signaled the arrival of Eric Clapton and established a tonal landmark for the Les Paul and Marshall sound. What would come to be known as the “Beano” album is also a treasure trove of amazing blues licks. Clapton worked his magic with a 1960 Les Paul Standard and a Marshall combo, and he cranked the volume so loud that the session engineers were literally freaking out. Genius!
Jimi Plays Monterey Pop, 1967
Jimi Hendrix’s first American gig with the Experience at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival on June 18, 1967 changed guitar forever. By the time Jimi set his Strat on fire, he had already set the whole world on fire.
Are You Experienced Released, 1967
Using a Strat, a Marshall, and a small collection of effects built (or modded) by Roger Mayer, Hendrix created a universe of “impossible” sounds. For rock guitar, this record is the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible all rolled into one.
Vox Introduces the Wah, 1967
Vox’s Clyde McCoy Wah-Wah is a shoe-in for the stompbox Hall of Fame. Designed by a Thomas Organ engineer named Brad Plunkett, the Wah-Wah’s novel variable center-frequency bandpass-filter circuit created a vocal-inflected sound that absolutely floored people when it first hit the airwaves during the Summer of Love. Brought to global attention by Eric Clapton on Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses”—the song that reportedly turned Jimi Hendrix onto wah—Vox’s new wonder was soon part of the electric-guitar lexicon.
Kustom Rocks Solid, 1967
It’s unclear who first stuck transistors into a guitar amp, but Kustom got into the game early, and in a big way with an unforgettable line of heads and combos. Unlike Vox and Fender, Kustom hadn’t built its reputation on tube amps, so they could go for the transistor gusto without fear of being busted for “messing” with their sound. And go for it they did, producing a series of powerful stage amps with colorful tuck-and-roll-coverings that gave them a totally unique look. Creedence Clearwater Revival put the amps on the map, and while others followed in Kustom’s wake, only Roland with its JC-120 Jazz Chorus amp would ever really one-up the stir that Kustom created with its unbridled celebration of solid-state technology.
Premiere Issue of Guitar Player, 1967
Bud Eastman was no publishing professional, but he had a love for guitar and gear that prompted him to birth Guitar Player, and, in the process, invent the journalism of modern guitarcraft. The reporting—written “for musicians by musicians”—revealed the inner workings of technique, tone, and composition, and forged a mission to help guitarists sound better and play better. Along the way, GP discovered some brilliant editors and publishers (Jim Crockett, Tom Wheeler, Dan Erlewine), uncovered transcendent talents (Eddie Van Halen, Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jennifer Batten), was the first to showcase pro-guitar columnists (Howard Roberts, Tommy Tedesco, Chet Atkins), innovated gear content (Bench Tests, product shootouts, Industry Insider), established industry awards and community outreach (Spotlight, Editors’ Pick Award, Readers’ Poll, Readers’ Choice Award, Guitar Hero), and celebrated the wonders of all styles of guitar. Almost 40 years later it’s still fun.