Friday, December 5, 2014

Ron Emory / Top guitarists series, Part 2

Ron Emory in the '80s. (Courtesy of Alison Braun)
By Andy

Just look at the above photo of Ron Emory.

I can't offer much more than this: He is a guitarist who is clearly passionate about his craft. (And he's a snappy dresser to boot.)

I had the pleasure of seeing him belt out songs with TSOL, Lunch Box and The Joykiller in the early '80s through the '90s. I was always mesmerized by his guitar playing on those early TSOL releases and wished I could sound that superb.

Here at There's Something Hard in There, we allow people to carve their own path ... and so Emory gets a top-15 list of his influential guitarists. We're just nice that way!

"Sorry I couldn't narrow it down to 10. The thing is, they all have a sound and style that is purely them. You know who they are after two chords," Emory wrote in an email. "They ALL (and many more) have molded me into the guitar player that I am."


15. Johnny Ramone - The Ramones 
When I first heard The Ramones, Johnny's straight-forward guitar playing gave me hope that I could someday bash out those same types of chords and create something out of it!

14. Billy Zoom - X
Calm, cool and full of style! First saw X at the Hong Kong Cafe in Chinatown in Los Angeles in 1979 .... Billy left a huge impression on me. Two brown Fender Combo amps and that Gretsch Silver Jet. Not to mention the silver leather biker jacket. But his playing and sound were what did it for me. Still looks and sounds the same 35 years later.

Billy Zoom with X in 2013. (Cat Rose photo)

13. Guy Days - 999
1950s Les Paul Jr. and a JMP Marshall - simple and to the point. Mega style points!

12. Keith Richards - The Rolling Stones
Since we are talking style here.... The way he places notes and chords in his songs is incredible. And the riffs for days! I was a late bloomer on the Stones bandwagon.

11. George Harrison - The Beatles
His chording and songwriting to this day blow me away. Every time I pick up my favorite little ukulele (1926 Roy Smeck vita uke), the first thing that comes out is "Here Comes the Sun" and it makes me happy. 50 years later and I'm still smiling. Thank you, George !!!

10. East Bay Ray - The Dead Kennedys
Having been East Bay Ray's guitar tech in the past, I studied his every move from behind his amp. What I found amazing is, Ray would play a total piece of crap guitar - every show it was a different one - yet it ALWAYS sounded the same ..... What I learned from Ray was .... "It's not the guitar or amp .... It's you." I have held that near and dear for a lot of years and try to abide by that. I just haven't figured out how to make a Strat sound like a Les Paul Jr. Ray knows!!!

9. John McGeoch - Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees
Never got to see Magazine, but listened to "The Correct Use of Soap" over and over when I was teaching myself to play. Got to see John play with Siouxsie at the Whiskey or Starwood several nights. I'm still trying to steal his sound from those shows!

8. Bob Andrews - Generation X
The songs off that first record were so good.... I still don't know how he made a Strat sound like that. Tight and tasteful. Oh yeah, they were like 17 when they recorded "Kiss Me Deadly." Give me a break!!!

7. Frank and Rikk Agnew - The Adolescents
Not only because Rikk is wearing a TSOL shirt on the back of their debut record, but because the way the two of them (along with the great Steve Soto on bass) created this angry, melodic, driving chaos with their instruments. It was and is the Orange County sound. Rikk is pure genius on guitar - Frank is no joke, either. They are like MY generation's Angus and Malcom Young!

6. Andy Gill - Gang of Four
Seeing Andy play live, I wasn't sure if he was having a seizure or what! But his choppy, sporadic, abnormal playing style was mesmerizing. (I tried to copy it on "Love Story.") Huge influence on me!

5. Bob Bogle and Don Wilson - The Ventures
Having learned most of my chops from "Learn to Play Guitar with The Ventures," I have to include them in my list. The way the two of them played together rhythm and lead was so outstanding!!! I've always had a surf influence on my guitar playing because of those two. And those records are great.

4. Jimi Hendrix
Again, a late bloomer on Jimi.... My friend Skatemaster Tate turned me on to Jimi in 1983. I love listening to "Axis: Bold as Love" with headphones... So great!

3. Pat Smear - The Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters
I cut my teeth on "What We Do is Secret" and "GI." The guitar riff on "Richie Dagger's Crime" is it! Pat currently just plays in the background of the Foo Fighters .... I wonder what they sound like without him? I owe a lot of my sound to Pat. I actually had a Germs cover band called Germ Warfare: It featured Nicky Beat on drums, Abbey Roads on bass, Dick Rude as Darby and me as Pat Smear. Pat came up to me after a show and said, "Ron, we NEVER sounded that good"!!! I'm still trying to sound as good as those records.

2. Joe Strummer/Mick Jones - The Clash
When The Clash walked on stage at the Santa Monica Civic in 1979, I knew that I wanted to play guitar. They were not like any of the rock bands from the '70s. I believed what they were saying and that they meant what they were singing about. Joe and Mick (and Paul) seemed to intertwine together so well: Joe's choppy guitar, Mick's single notes and those great bass lines are why I started playing!

AND ...


Captain Sensible with The Damned a few years ago. (Andy photo)

1. Captain Sensible - The Damned
Listen to these two masterpieces: "Machine Gun Etiquette" and "The Black Album."
Enough said!


Now, without Jim Kaa (The Crowd) and Mike Rubin (The Accidents) taking time to show me my very first chords, not sure what I would be doing right now. So, to them I am eternally grateful. All of the above mentioned artists are what I still strive to be.... Just not there yet!


Emory in 2015. (Cat Rose photo)

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