Blues guitarist Peter Parcek joins PG staff and reader Emsy Robinson Jr. in sharing about their biggest childhood music influences.
Question: What music was shared with you as a child that shaped your original tastes?
Scott Moore and Elvis Presley onstage.
Guest Picker: Peter Parcek
A: My sister brought home early Elvis records on the Sun label with Scotty Moore on guitar. The concepts and guitar playing turned my head around. We were so excited we danced on the bed. In eighth grade, I listened to the radio out of Chicago and Memphis. The first LPs I purchased were The Best of Muddy Waters and Moanin’ in the Moonlight by Howlin’ Wolf. These albums made the hair on my body stand up. They provided the inspiration and impetus to play and changed my life (for the better).
Jazz giant George Benson’s third album, released in 1967.
Current Obsession: George Benson “The Cooker” on The George Benson Cookbook—it’s “bad” in the best sense, in phrasing, tone, and intensity. Then there’s Jimi Hendrix’s “Villanova Junction” on Live at Woodstock—he has a gorgeous tone and shows deep emotion. Other current obsessions include Django Reinhardt’s late-career electrified recordings from 1947 to 1953—gypsy jazz meets bebop.
Premier Guitar publisher Jon Levy, circa 1968.
Jon Levy, Premier Guitar publisher
A: The Beatles were the biggest influence, by far. My dad—a middle-aged Liverpool expatriate living in Chicago—took great pride in the band from his Merseyside hometown. He bought Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s as soon as they were released, and those records enjoyed endless plays on our living room stereo.
Current Obsession: Acoustic gigs. They’re exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I’ll grab my beloved Takamine and join friends onstage for impromptu sets with little provocation or preparation. It’s kind of addictive.
Managing editor Kate Koenig, during her Rick Wakeman years.
Kate Koenig, Premier Guitar managing editor
A: My greatest musical influence as a child was my dad. Memorable albums include Frank Zappa’s We’re Only in It for the Money, Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, the Beatles’ Help and A Hard Day’s Night, and the Who’s Live at Leeds. Rick Wakeman’s exceedingly hammy Journey to the Centre of the Earth was blasted on weekend mornings to get my brother and I out of bed.
Current Obsession: Most recently, I’ve been focused on the work of Julian Lage. I’ve been taking lessons with our associate editor Jason, who has so wisely and graciously introduced me to a wide range of methods and techniques, including Lage’s “Twelve Observations About the Guitar.” I’ve also been doing my darndest to learn his “Etude,” the opening track on Squint.
Emsy Robinson Jr.
Reader of the Month: Emsy Robinson
A: The earliest artist, from my collective memory, would be Linda Goss and her album, It’s Story Telling Time. This record is a beautiful, warm collection of stories and songs about African folklore. I also grew up listening to Tracy Chapman’s debut, the O’Jay’s Ship Ahoy album, and The Bodyguard soundtrack.
Current Obsession: Today, I am enamored with the U.K. guitarist Mansur Brown. His style is heavy in modern fusion, but mixed with elements of North African melodies, trap, and alternative rock. His playing absolutely floors me. I also love Mk. Gee, who plays guitar for Dijon. His sound is wild and experimental.