Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments In Rock And Roll

Lenny Kaye

Kaye’s standing among record collectors was cemented in 1972, when he compiled the Nuggets double-album of ’60s garage and psychedelia. Also co-author of Waylon Jennings’ biography, here he takes on the role of historian – and he’s as impassioned as he is authoritative.

Chapters are divided into places and times – Memphis ’54, Liverpool ’62, etc. It’s about rock and roll, not guitar (nor virtuosity), but it’s engaging for any musician. Tenor guitarist Tiny Grimes gets his due, as does Elvis sideman Scotty Moore. And the San Francisco chapter is populated with the Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen, Quicksilver’s John Cipollina, and Big Brother’s James Gurley, whose stunt-man father, Kaye reveals, used his son as a battering ram through a wall of flame: “Gurley plays guitar much the same.”

Unfortunately, distortion wiz Willie Johnson doesn’t get credit as Howlin’ Wolf’s original guitarist, Kaye incorrectly citing jump-blues bandleader Buddy Johnson. And George Harrison’s “Raunchy” entry into the Beatles is mistakenly attributed to Link Wray; it was a hit by both Bill Justis and Ernie Freeman. Kaye’s tenure with Patti Smith is covered, naturally, but he shares Big Apple punk with the Ramones, Television, and others. It’s one of many fascinating time-machine stops.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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