I’m trying out a new series here on Chasing Sound called Inspiring / Inspired. The premise behind the series is to show a song from a guitarist who was deeply inspiring to so many people, and then show one of the people that that guitarist inspired. For this inaugural edition of Inspiring / Inspired I’m going 3 deep. I’ll feature Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Mayer.
If you truly, actively listen to your favorite guitarists, you’ll soon find out something special. Simply by listening and really honing in on what makes them great, what vocabulary they’re using, what techniques and more, you find out that these players become your teachers. Steal an idea here, a riff there, and make these ideas your own.
You’ll soon become a mixture of all of your favorite things on the guitar, making something new again. These players below all were initially inspired by players before them, and listening to each provides a new take on what makes guitar so great. Let’s start with Hendrix.
Jimi Hendrix - Red House
Hendrix was one of the most inspiring guitarists of all time, but just like any other player, he had his influences too. From bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Elmore James to rock acts like The Beatles, The Stones and more, Hendrix had many phases throughout his life and his influences show up throughout his recordings.
On his bluesier side, you had Hendrix’s Red House. Red House itself was inspired by Albert King (who later was a huge influence on SRV). It is without a doubt one of the most covered songs in rock and blues.
In the book Ultimate Hendrix they talk about how the version of Red House on Are You Experienced “came about during the last fifteen minutes of the December 13 session”, “Jimi just winged through one take for reference and we started rolling.” Pretty incredible stuff for one of Hendrix’s all time greatest songs.
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge Hendrix fan, and covered some of his songs like Little Wing, Voodoo Chile and others while playing live. Although not an original SRV tune, Stevie made the most popular version of the song Texas Flood.
Stevie’s version, especially some of the live cuts, have Hendrixisms all over the track, as he lengthened the original version and added some of his own style to the song. In a true “small world” turn of events, Stevie only heard about the song because Larry Davis who originally wrote Texas Flood was invited to clubs where Vaughan would frequent by none other than Albert King.
Texas Flood and Red House are very similar, but you also had other Hendrix tunes that inspired SRV. Just take a listen to Little Wing, and then go listen to Vaughan’s Lenny or Riviera Paradise. And for more Hendrix inspired blues, check out SRV’s original Ain’t Gone ’n’ Give Up on Love.
John Mayer - Out of My Mind
John Mayer gets a lot of flack, whether it be for his playing style, his signature guitars, or his guitar faces, there’s a lot of people who can’t seem to get into him. Mayer has been influenced heavily by Hendrix, Vaughan, and early on by Dave Matthews. At the beginning of his career there were so many comparisons to Dave Matthews that Mayer started playing his signature guitar.
While his pop rock songs are a lot of fun, Mayer really gets to stretch out on his John Mayer Trio album, Try! The song that’s similar to Texas Flood and Red House is Out of My Mind. A slow, smoky blues with some great riffs. If you can’t get into John’s playing, this album might change your mind. Listen to Mayer’s solo on this song after he asks the crowd, “let me play my guitar people.”
It’s funny because Mayer’s known for having so many pop rock hits, that it’s only so often he gets to nerd out and really play. The whole album is great, and it closes out on a happier number with the title track, Try, which I’ve always loved. The album features the amazing Steve Jordan on drums and Pino Palladino on bass.