Pedal-steel and slide master Robert Randolph has jammed with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and many other guitar-playing titans while touring the world with his band, Robert Randolph and the Family Band. His performances are blistering, and his onstage charisma is truly a sight to behold. I have known Robert for a couple of years now, and we have shared licks onstage and beers offstage. Many consider him to be one of the best cats around. I caught up with Robert during a day off from a tour to find out who his top five favorite guitarists of all time are and why.
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
“He is the most soulful guitar player of all time,” says Robert. “He transcends the blues, and sends the blues into another galaxy.”
“He is the most influential guitar player of all time, from not only the guitar playing, but also his songwriting and singing. He kept everyone interested because of the unique dialogue he created with his guitar, as well as the dialogue within his songs.”
DUANE ALLMAN AND DICKEY BETTS
“It’s weird, but you have to put these two together as one, because that is what they did with their playing. They created a sound that became a staple for twin guitars playing together and really speaking to each other. Everybody has tried to copy what they did, but it’s never really the same.”
“I have to put Clapton in there, because, probably more than all the other guitar players, he still continues to make great music throughout his career—whether it’s with Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, the Yardbirds, or solo. There are just all these classic riffs and songs that you think are just so easy to copy, but when you try, they just aren’t the same. He is just one of those one-of-a-kind players.”
“I think Bo should round out my list, because he created a rhythmic style that really ended up becoming rock and roll. There would not have been a Rolling Stones if it were not for Bo Diddley, and likewise for many other bands. People try to peg him as only a blues artist, but he was a rock and roll cat all the way, and in it’s purest form.”
Devon Allman’s uncle was the legendary Duane Allman, and his father is a howling soul singer and organist. Together, they started a little group called The Allman Brothers Band back in 1969. Devon has been touring and making records for more than a decade, has released eight albums (picking up a Blues Music Award along the way), and has racked up nearly 30 countries on his touring resume. He gets to rub shoulders with guitar players all over the world, and he likes to ask these musicians about their favorite players because it breaks the ice and presents some common ground.