Guitarist/songwriter Cobi has just released his new single, “Island in My Mind.” To mark the occasion, he’s shared with Guitar Player his list of top five guitarists, which you can see below. It’s a wild and varied selection that runs the gamut of genres and musicians who have influenced the alumnus of Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Cobi’s new single comes after a hiatus during which he dealt with the passing of his father and welcomed his first daughter. With uplifting lyrics and vocals, “Island In My Mind” captures his raw emotions in an encouraging anthem. You can hear the song by clicking here.
To see Cobi’s guitar playing in action, watch him perform his hit single “Don’t You Cry for Me” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Cobi’s Top Five Favorite Guitarists
#5: Tony Iommi
“Maybe the baddest man on the planet,” Cobi says. “Tony Iommi has to be on my list. I discovered Black Sabbath as a raging teenager. Iommi’s incendiary guitar style immediately caught my attention when I heard ‘A National Acrobat’ on my brother’s car stereo. I thought, ‘This is what the devil would play if he picked up the guitar.’ My mind was blown.
"Iommi’s sound is unique, due in large part to an accident he had at work. While cutting metal through a big machine, he cut off some fingertips from his fretting hand. The doctor told him he’d never play guitar again. Inspired by the gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, Iommi was able to pick the guitar back up and carry Black Sabbath for decades. He essentially invented the sound of metal guitar.”
#4: Dick Dale
“One of the most signature sounds ever created, Dick Dale was a pioneer. The surf guitar sound immediately transports you to the beach or a Quentin Tarantino movie. Dale played as fast as possible, at max volume, but with a reverb that sounded so cool. Leo Fender once attempted to design an amp that wouldn’t be destroyed by Dale’s sheer loudness. Dick’s arrangements were complex, with a lot of staccato strumming. Every guitar player has attempted to play Dick Dale riffs at some point in their life. Some people even dedicate their lives to sounding just like him.”
#3: Kurt Cobain
“He was no virtuoso, but no one looked cooler than him when he smashed his guitar. Kurt Cobain in a way brought the guitar back down to earth after a long period of note-shredding technicians. He made every teenage boy feel like they could pick up the guitar and play Nirvana songs, which they could. No one was rawer on the instrument, yet Nirvana riffs stand the test of time and go down as some of the greatest songs ever written. The simplicity, along with his aggressive expression, made Nirvana one of the most unique rock bands of all time.”
#2: Jeff Buckley
“Jeff Buckley was so clever on the guitar that Jimmy Page once said he was ‘a wizard in a class of his own.’ If you’ve ever listened to Buckley, you know this is true. His sound was completely unique. Unlike Cobain, Buckley was a virtuoso, opening dimensions on the guitar that most of us can only get to by taking a strong dose of psychedelics. It makes you wonder if people really do sell their souls to the devil in exchange for unhinged musical abilities. He certainly had enough talent and mystique to bring about such rumors.”
“Jimi Hendrix always gets the number-one slot on lists like this, but this time we’re gonna do something different. I am giving Prince the nod, as he took everything that Hendrix did and brought it to a whole ‘nother level, like taking all of the greatest musicians and putting them into one mega star. Not only could he play as good as Hendrix but he could sing and dance like James Brown. Prince left you with nothing else to ask for. When he was done shredding three-hour-long sold-out arena concerts, he would often throw an afterparty and play all night at whatever club he wanted in town. His abilities and stamina seemed superhuman. I’m concluding this list with Prince at number one because he broke all the boundaries and crossed all the genres. He was the whole package.”