Johnny Marr on how he popularised the rhythm lead playing style in the early 80s`: “The way I looked at guitars was perhaps a little different from what others were at the time”.
“If there’s a room full of guitar players, I’m the last to leave, man.”
Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns via Getty Images
Johnny Marr has spoken out about his iconic rhythm lead playing style that was popularised in the early 1980s.
In an interview with Guitar World, the ex-guitarist for The Smiths has stated that he “wouldn’t disagree” with guitar fans who would cite him and Peter Buck as game-changers who popularised the rhythm-led style.
The guitarist notes that this more restrained style came from an interview with John Lennon that he read as a child.
“A big lesson I learned when I was very young – maybe 11 or 12 – was when I read an old interview with John Lennon. He was talking about serving the song and being a really good rhythm player. And then growing up in the Seventies, it seemed as if one of the Ten Commandments of Guitar was, “Thou shalt be like Keith Richards” – you know, be the engine of the band. There’s people like Mike Campbell, too.”
However, Marr has shown that while playing the rhythm guitar, which might be regarded as a more subtle playing style than the more flash lead guitar, it hasn’t stopped him from obsessing over the instrument.
“Now, to be honest, I’m still not above fetishising the guitar the way we all do. You get me with another guitar player, and we’ll trade our stories about the SG we got in 1980 or whatever. If there’s a room full of guitar players, I’m the last to leave, man. I’m just as hooked as everybody else, and I have been since I was 5 or 6.
“I just think that the way I looked at guitar playing was perhaps a little different from what others were at the time, and I think somebody like Peter Buck felt the same way. We both loved the look of Rickenbackers.”
Johnny Marr has just released a 16-song double album, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4, which is available on all streaming services now.
For more about the album and the ways to listen, you can visit JohnnyMarr.com