Even the modern greats have heroes. Albert Cummings’ new record, “Believe” is all about just that: “It takes inspiration from the rich recording legacy of Muscle Shoals and created a timeless album full of rhythm, funk and soul. “You can hear the difference between this album and my others, and that is the Muscle Shoals difference,” Cummings says of the new project, “If I had recorded those same songs anywhere else, then Believe would have sounded like a completely different album.”
All that being the case, it makes sense to talk to Albert about his favourite guitarists. So that’s what we did.
And he picked out some crackers!
There is not a guitarist alive today that isn’t or hasn’t been inspired by BB King. Even the youngest guitarist of today is influenced by BB King even if he/she doesn’t know who BB King is. I say this because there was no rock and roll or electric blues as we know it before BB King. He was there in the very beginning. There is a picture of Elvis, Johnny Cash and BB King that I love. This picture shows the beginning of Rock, Country and the Blues with those three guys. Elvis and Johnny didn’t play electric guitar so BB King was the guy that influenced all of the following generations of guitar players in all genres. Young players who are influenced by modern players might not realize that their idols were influenced by BB King or other players who were inspired by BB King. Mr. King expressed his feelings with the guitar and virtually communicated with the instrument like no other. On top of that he was the most humble of all guitar players even though he inspired the world.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
There was never and will never be another guitarist who will be as great as SRV. This man had a passion for the guitar that is unmatched. Stevie could play anyone’s style of playing. He not only could play styles of the greats note for note but he could also get their tone while using his Stratocaster. This is not an easy task to get a Gibson tone from a Fender but Stevie knew how to do it. What made him stand apart was that after he could play everyone else’s style and sound, he would then go back to his own style and sound. He had his own recognizable and unforgettable sound with a power unknown to everyone else.
Freddie King had a story to tell and he never wasted a note telling it. He had complete power and control of his instrument. He was ripping out guitar solos and awesome songs that was totally unique compared to any of his contemporaries. He like BB King was creating sounds with his guitar that had never existed prior to his existence. He passed away when he was 42 and he was just getting started. He was called the Texas Cannon Ball but he should have been called the Texas Cannon because he possessed the spark that lit the fuse that launched him into being an absolute guitar legend.
Albert tuned his guitar in his own way that was different from the standard tuning. This meant everything he played, he had to come up with it himself. Like all the others listed in my top five, he could be recognized by hearing him play one single note. He had total power and control over his axe. The one great thing I love about Albert is Albert didn’t play anyone else’s style or ever try to. Albert played Albert and that’s what he did. When he played a lick it fit the mood of the song to the T. He expressed his emotions not only with his voice but with his guitar. This is something that is very rare for guitarists to do. Albert was Master of the Telecaster but he also was a Master at performing.
I heard an interview with Stevie Ray Vaughan once and the interviewer told Stevie that he Stevie played Hendrix better than Hendrix. Stevie immediately corrected the interviewer and told him that “Hendrix came up with it”. This is a very key thing when it comes to me picking a guitar player. Most lists of great guitarists are popularity lists and that to me has nothing to do with how good a guitarist is. Some of the biggest names in guitar playing are people who really aren’t the greatest players but they have the gift of being able to create new licks, riffs and/or music. This is a huge talent to possess but it doesn’t necessarily make you a great guitarist. Hendrix was all of these. He is certainly the most popular guitarist of all time but this guy could walk his talk when it came to playing guitar too. When Jimi strapped on a guitar it became part of his body mind and spirit. Not only could he play all of the stuff his influences played but he could also come up with brand new material that never existed. This is only possible when a player is at absolute one with his instrument. On top of all of this he did it all before his death at twenty seven years old.