Straight From the Heart: What Are Your Influences?

Sensational guitarist and real life Guitar God – Steve Vai rockin’ out on his ‘Heart’ guitar!


Many of us have been influenced by our friends, a particular song on the radio, or a new song by our favorite group. Maybe a family member, or even a particular life experience impacted and shaped your influences. All kinds of things have led us to play this wonderful instrument….THE GUITAR!

We all have our reasons for playing guitar. On top of that, we have our reasons for what we play and how we play it. It’s easy for some to identify their influences. Others not so easy. Or maybe not what one would consider a standard answer. Some need to search for something much deeper than a song or artist. And influences can change with time, I can attest to this from personal experience.


I originally wanted to play guitar because I thought it was cool. My dad played guitar, but he played country music and I wasn’t into it at all and had no appreciation for it at the time. I was just a dumb kid, although I loved to listen and watch him play. He was amazingly talented and I was extremely impressed by his level of skill on the old 6-string. But at the time, I was more influenced by the great ‘GUITAR GODS’ of the day. In those days it seemed like every good band had an amazing guitarist.

We had Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff BeckPete Townshend, Tommy Iommi, Billy Gibbons, Robin Trower, Ted Nugent, Gary Moore and this list could go on and on. In the early 80’s it was Rhoads, and the Metallica wave, ending with SRV and Healey in the late 80’s. But that’s about the time I hung up my guitar. Oh the things we do in life for others! But the music never stops. Once it’s in your heart, it’s always there. In my most recent return to playing guitar, I have discovered some new influences. My dad who passed away right before I got my guitar, is definitely a big influence on me now. I hope someday to be as good and as accomplished as he was. Not that he was some big star or anything, but he gigged for the better part of 20 years and did some recording too.


These days my biggest influence is… own heart! I have a new love for guitar that I never had before. And I have an incredible desire to get better. I am dedicating more and more time to practicing guitar….and the more I practice, the more I want to play!

I am still influenced to play certain songs because of a cool rhythm or riff, but my real influence to play these days comes straight from the heart. I just love it! It is the best fix for a bad or gloomy day. Stressed? Grab your guitar! Want to put a smile on your face or the face of someone else? You know what to do…..! Look deep….why do you play…what influenced you?

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  • For me the night I seen Andre Segovia on the Ed Sullivan show that’s the night I know I want to play guitar.

    About a year later my brother give me a Sear Silvertone(Danelectro)and some records called learning to play guitar with the Ventures.

    Influences :Phil Keaggy,Glen Kaizer,Larry Norman,B.B.King,Albert King,Robin Trower,Johnny Winters,Charlie Christian,Django Reinhardt, and others.

    I love the old music from about 1915 thru about 1979.When music playing became more about machine than Man I turned my radio off.

  • ron

    Carlos Santana. It was 1971, and I was loving lead guitarists from Clapton to Jimmy Page, to the dual leads in Wishbone Ash, to Tony Iommi. But it was Santana who finally pushed me over the edge and made me want to play.

  • I won Metallica’s S&M DVD in a competition and decided I wanted to learn to play like Kirk. These days i’m more interested in learning to play like James 😉

  • My mom and her sisters were musicians and so was her mother so I guess it’s in the DNA but when I discovered my dads record collection as a young kid and listened to the Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” Elton Johns “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”… a bunch of 45s from Elvis, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry and countless other great artists and albums from the 50s and 60s, I was hooked. Music has been an obsession ever since. I have messed around with other musical instruments over the years, but for me, the guitar is my preferred method to quickly express myself with music and man, I love it.

  • Mark Farner, Grand Funk Railroad! I bought the red album, listened, and said “I can do that too!” It’s been a love affair with the guitar since 1972.

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