The song that made Angus Young want to play guitar

Angus young

In the realm of rock, Angus Young, AC/DC’s guitarist, has exerted considerable influence. He melds the musicality of traditional blues with the high-energy and aggressive guitar style reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, giving rise to the distinctive sound of AC/DC. When an AC/DC song starts playing, be it classics like ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, ‘T.N.T.’, or ‘Thunderstruck’, Young’s repertoire of legendary guitar techniques is truly astonishing.

It makes sense that Young, a hard-rock icon, is seen as a god of guitar playing by aspiring players. Many people look up to him for his effortless skill with the instrument. And the fierce tone he pulls from his vintage Gibson SG is nothing short of amazing. Fans have always found it fascinating to delve into Young’s thoughts on his favourite guitarists. A thorough understanding of his technique is essential for those hoping to fulfil their greatest guitar-playing dreams.

Like many others, Young holds immense admiration for the guitar skills of the one and only Jimi Hendrix. When Young first heard the hit song “Purple Haze,” he recalled in a 2021 Guitar interview, saying, “I could play guitar a little bit. But, I really got focused on it around the years when I was about 12 into my teenage years. I started to focus more on it.”

“And that’s when Jimi Hendrix appeared on the horizon, around the time I was about 13 or 14,” he continued. And I found myself totally taken by the song “Purple Haze” when I first heard it. “What is he doing there?” It simply impressed me so much. You kind of said, “Woah!” when Hendrix appeared on the scene. This guitar playing is at a new level. I therefore really enjoyed that.

Young is not alone, of course, in feeling this way. Former Frank Zappa guitarist Steve Vai adds, “Although learning to play a Jimi Hendrix song for most contemporary guitarists may not pose a tremendous challenge, playing them just like Jimi has never quite been achieved. His elegant handling of the instrument, sense of rhythm, note selection, and general creativeness in managing audio chaos were all impressive”.

He goes on, “Machine Gun, performed live at the Fillmore on New Year’s Eve with The Band of Gypsys, is one such piece of guitar divinity he has performed.” I think this is possibly the most creative rock guitar performance ever. His distinct musical DNA permeates every note and never loses character. For the duration of this performance, he maintains an incredible connection to the creative impulse of the universe. It comes through in a very special and potent way through him. Since his otherworldly connection fuels every word, accurately replicating a single note becomes impossible.

To Young, Vai, or any musician, Hendrix appears to channel elusive notes from the universe’s other side. And his constant expression of creative reflection confirms this. He uniquely and unpredictably navigates his performance, unfolding as if crafted by Jimi Hendrix himself, with each twist appearing both predetermined and remarkably spontaneous.


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