When asked why we ordinary folks were fans of Steve Clark and what we liked about him as a musician and guitarist here’s what we had to say:
Steve was a true musician/player. To define what I mean by that; musicians write great music, they sometimes fail to be great players…there are great musicians out there that when it comes time to play a guitar solo…it just goes to ####…. then there are a ton of players… these guys/gals can play extremely fast, technically, and could copy just about anyone… you see them all the time in the cover bands, they could play Yngwie or Lynch almost note for note… but their writing lacks… you see this today in a lot of the 80’s band with “replacements”, yeah when they play their classic music, they can play the leads note for note, but the big difference is that all of the new material sucks. It is much more difficult to be both…to write a great riff, to turn that riff (orchestrate) into a song, and create a solo in the middle that fits the song just perfect… I would say less than ten of the 80’s guitarists that made it big would fit into that category…and of those… Steve was one of the best. Steve also had great stage presence… he always gave the audience 110%, he lived the music on stage; it was his music, and you could tell. Steve was an emotional player, he played from the depths of his soul…that’s why he was so fond of Jimmy, Jimmy was a demon on guitar… their guitars bled with emotion… and Steve looked cool (I know all you females say he was “hot”, but in a non-fag kind of way… he had great stage appearance, and looked rock and roll). He was the heart and soul of Leppard during their prime; his death was untimely and very tragic. That was the day the music died for Lep.
There are few guitarists that exhibited the skill and talent of Steve and once you combine in the true rock and roll essence of his character on stage… he was rock and roll.
Thanks Robert! At least that’s something from a male fan. ? I love technical and not-so-technical views. You see, I’m a figure-skating fanatic, and in competitions, a lot of commentators would compare a top athlete/team against his/their rivals. I’d like to hear more of that kind of input from you guys.
Now, I don’t want this to end up like an ESPN account of a hockey game. A balance of the cerebral, visceral, and emotional should be stimulating. ? Ok, how about pitting Steve against his contemporaries? Let’s say Steve vs. Slash, Steve vs. Sambora, or even Steve vs. Phil. I know the last one has been done to death, but I just can’t get it sometimes. Like, why would you say that Steve is the more emotional player of the Terror Twins when sometimes the stuff that they play sounds a bit the same? Or this case: Steve and Phil have different playing styles, so the expression in their music would be relative to their playing style. So why then most people would still insist that Steve played more emotionally than Phil?
Slash is a very emotional player …his technique is somewhat sloppy… but that’s cool… what most people don’t get is that Traci Guns actually helped with a lot of Appetite’s songs… that’s why Illusion 1 and 2 were such a departure from appetite… Slash probably had about 15% to do with the writing of appetite… Izzy had quite a bit as well… so Slash is a great player… but I have yet to be blown away by his writing on his own… Not to say he’s not good… Sambora is an awesome player… (as well as vocalist) he is definitely a very integral part of Bon Jovi’s success without question… but give this a chance… listen to their music live… at a recent show… (i.e. the show that was on VH1 about 9 months ago) every song sounds identical… same keys… same rhythm… you could almost alternate lyrics… for the most part… great writer… but very little variety… Steve had that covered too… and Phil… great player… but you hear the difference in song writing now that Steve’s gone… the main thing I look for in a guitar solo (as far as emotion goes), a great solo will make me shiver….those chills you get….and you go…####…there’s just not a better solo for that song….examples…heartbreak…die hard…switch… Zep’s since I been loving you…stairway…most solos off of Zeppelin presence…. most Lynch solos… the solo fits the song perfect through soul and emotion…. that’s what separates emotional players from technical players… you’ve got to feel it… the guitar has to talk what you’re trying to get across… if the song is sad… the guitar has to cry… if it’s aggressive… the guitar has to bleed… that’s the main difference… a lot of players play scales… and occasionally bend a note…but to do what Steve/Page/Lynch/Keifer and others have done… that’s impressive…. at least to me.
If we scored guitarists like we did figure skating, I think Steve would have much higher artistic marks than technical, but that some technical guys (like Steve Vai, for example) would have really low artistic marks.
As far as Steve… all I know is that he and Phil played excellent together. There is a song called “SMC” (LOVE IT TO DEATH!!) and Phil said that this was a lullaby for Rory that him and Steve came up with. Well, after Steve died they decided to record it and name it “SMC” for memory. Even though it is only about 2 minutes long… it really shows how well they played together.
I miss that sound.
From Amy H
Robert nailed it.
Why I like Steve the best.
Well, for me I love Steve because he was so different from the rest. Most guitarists like to try to be “cool” all the time. Steve was just an ordinary bloke who was just simply himself. He was naturally cool. I love his style of playing. I love the emotion and feeling he puts into a song. I love the way he would perform to the audience. A great showman. He learned and was influenced from one of the greats anyway, being Jimmy Page. And Steve was never a guitar player who wanted to show off to prove how cool he was with a solo or squeeze in 60 notes in a second. He said once that he was aware of guys like Steve Vai and respected what they did, but it didn’t do anything for him. That to me shows the maturity and musicianship (? don’t know if that’s the right word here… sorry) within him. Steve played guitar to make music, to be creative and to create something unique that would move you deep within your soul. He was a real musician. He knew the rules of music. Add to that, he was a traditionalist when it came to guitars. Another thing I love about him. He used Gibson’s and didn’t want a “flashy paint job.”
And well… from a ladies point of view as well, he is just gorgeous! LOL!
That’s why I like Steve the most. He stands out from the crowd and is a legend in his own right for me….
…so why didn’t Gibson create a Steve Clark signature model????
Here is mine:
Steve, to me, was a person that never tried to be anything that he wasn’t. He wasn’t obnoxious or “rock star” like. I would look forward to the interviews just to hear what he would say in that soft voice. He was so fun to watch on stage, no one moved like him. He was life! My Father played guitar for me and I longed for his approval so I would watch from Steve and try to play. You can never learn from that, but I tried to be like him. He was a gentle soul that came from NOTHING and became EVERYTHING. The sound of the music he created just lifts you up to Heaven and fills your soul with emotion. Sappy? Yeah, I know. But he still makes me feel like that 13 year old girl sitting in front of the TV watching Bringin’ on the Heartbreak… only 14 years later.
He was comfort, he was a listener, he was a healer, and he was most of all a musician. He was and still is my best friend.
Technical wise, I don’t know about guitars. I couldn’t tell you anything about them…well, some stuff! But I didn’t have to know anything, because he knew it and boy did he show it!
I miss our lighting. I miss the way he would hold his Gibson up to the sky almost in sacrifice to the Guitar Gods. I will miss how he spun around with his Firebird as if he was dancing on air. I miss the smile of appreciation he would have after hearing the applause from fans. But most of all I miss him, the man, who was Steve Clark.
So, that is my story. Korney, I know, but true!
From Amy H
Where do I begin? I thought Steve Clark had one of the most unique styles in rock. Very few players as soon as they plug in you can tell who it is. BB King, Eddie, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, etc I definitely believe Steve Clark was someone with that kind of distinction. He approached his leads from a different angle. He wasn’t just melodic, but he had a technique of knowledge of music to use exotic scales. Check out his solo on Wasted – it may not be terribly difficult to play, but listen to the sound, it’s so unique – he’s using a Harmonic minor scale. The break in Too Late for Love, after the main solo. Steve is using the Dorian mode. That sounds so cool, nobody would think of that break. One of my favorites is the Armageddon It solo, I think that is Steve at his best. The solo is deceptively difficult to get it exactly right as in the recording, even Steve varied it when he played it live. Many geniuses aren’t appreciated until after they are gone, I really believe that with Steve. So many people slam the 80’s bands and even Def Leppard, but yet you can hear traces of his style in rock music everywhere. I am proud to say I am a Clark fan, and even more proud to say that my style is suited like his!
From Hurricane Joe
I think Steve was actually spontaneous in his playing, which, to me, spontaneity (sp?) is such a great thing – especially in a live show! Yes, he played from the heart, which was the way a guitar should be played and how a true musician should express him/herself, which is no doubt why Mutt drove him crazy (ok, a little observation by me and a bit off-topic there! sorry) Mutt tried to make Steve into something he wasn’t. Steve was nobody’s puppet! Mutt wanted Steve to play what Mutt wanted to hear, Steve wanted to play what Steve felt. This is often a conflict between artist/producer/record company. If the artist is a true artist, and not just wanting to sell lots of records.
Steve lived to play. I think for Steve, the following could have applied:
Living = Playing (Live)
Playing (Live) = Living
I also think the live show was what Steve lived for. Being cooped up in the studio with Mutt, having many of his ideas rejected, waiting so long in-between tours must have made him hit the bottle hard and depress him. But, again, slightly off-topic. Sorry.
I heard somewhere, something I believe to be true, that we tend to find someone we look up to and we try to “imitate” them, and/or copy their attitudes. This can be said for Steve looking up to Jimmy Page. There are so many pics of Steve where he posed just like Jimmy, he smiled just like Jimmy, often used the same style guitars as Jimmy …but he then took what he liked from Jimmy and made it his own, put his own spin on it.
When Steve played, to look at him as he played, you could tell his soul was in it. He was soooo into the moment. And that comes across clearly and when an artist truly loves what they do, even if they are not the greatest artist; when they open their soul like that, it’s a verrry rare thing, that trait is sought after, but few have it. That is very appealing, it’s as if the artist wants to offer his/her audience a glimpse into their soul, what they are feeling. That is a true musician. They want to share their feelings. They are verrry into it, and nothing else at the time matters.
And… he made it fun!! Just when it looked like he was soooo into what he was playing… he’d be off running across the stage, break into his gorgeous smile – the spontaneity!
I think thru Steve’s playing, his message was, he had a story to tell, he was intent on telling it, but, let’s have fun!! Let’s not take life too seriously! You could often hear and see pain when Steve played, but he always left you with a smile! I think that was the entire point of his playing. We all have pain, but let’s enjoy life!! To me, that is how I interpret Steve’s playing. He sent out powerful messages. He made you FEEL. And that is a true artist. Feel what they feel. Take you to extremes. Give you unbelievable highs with heart-wrenching lows. But always, in the end, we must know life is good! and I think that was often Steve’s message. He might not even have been aware of it. But that is how I interpret his playing. And a true artist can play and end up having different people interpret it different ways. Their playing is unique; they can have one person take what they are saying thru their music, and have it fit into the person’s individual life, make it their own interpretation. When Steve played, it was not “oh, this is clearly an anger-song, happy song, whatever….” But his playing was unique in that the listener could interpret it how they want. The music then becomes a part of the listener. It’s a very powerful thing to have that talent, few out there have it. When you hear someone with that special talent, you take away from that song what you want, it becomes your own. Hope this makes sense. I know what I’m trying to say, but it’s hard to explain. His playing could reach into your soul and find a special place, it’s much like “it hit the spot”, or it got you in the gut, or you could identify with what he was saying, his music could be interpreted different ways, and it had the magic to make you feel and know what he was talking about.
I am a great fan of Steve Clark. I saw Def Leppard many times when Steve was in the band (I really can’t listen to them since, however). Steve was a top-notch player and a true gentleman. He and Ace Frehley from Kiss are the reason that I play a Les Paul with 3 pickups, you can’t beat ’em :-))
Stephen really could riff like a…., well the man was class and a half!
Steve Clark was one of the best, a guy who had all of the skills but NEVER played a note that was not right for the song; even guys like Vai, Satriani and Malmsteen, etc. have not done that. The song is what matters. Many more could learn this lesson and Stephen had this down pat in spades! (that it was so natural that it seemed to be uncanny.)
Steve Clark = Pure Class.
I think that Phil [Collen] is a faster player, not better… Steve is an emotional player. Steve was a true musician, one that wrote and played. Steve was obviously the writer of the band, no question. Without Steve, Leppard simply put out bubblegum music, songs created just to make songs, not leave an impression or evoke any type of emotion. Phil may be a faster player but I don’t think that makes him necessarily a more “technical player”; if you want to talk theory, look at Bringin’ On The Heartbreak. I’m sorry but at Steve’s age when he wrote that song, that was huge. That song has more composition in it than most rock songs of the 80’s. The only other guitarist doing that type of composition at that time was Randy Rhoads… (Diary Of A Madman). Can Steve play a million notes a second like Yngwie??? No… I think not. Did he need to? No. Neither did Jimmy Page…