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Six slow kings of the six-string guitar (Mike Campbell in the list)

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Six slow kings of the six-string guitar

By Lou Carlozo | TRIBUNE REPORTER | March 2, 2009

252On the new DVD "Beethoven's Guitar Shred" (TPR Music, $8), The Great Kat (a.k.a. Katherine Thomas) buzzes through "Flight of the Bumblebee" at a mind-numbing 300 beats per minute. The classically trained musician claims to be one of planet's fastest guitar players, and who can argue?

But what if you took the opposite tack and saluted six of the slowest guitar players? We're talking folks known for melody and taste, but who likely couldn't manage "Bumblebee" if you slowed it to 30 beats a minute.

Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). The end solo on "American Girl" is as fast it gets for Campbell, who writes the music behind Petty's hits. His sleepy riffs on songs such as "Breakdown" and "I Won't Back Down" hang in the air like drunk fireflies.

Peter Buck (R.E.M.). Buck's beloved Rickenbacker guitar was stolen in Finland last year, and returned after nine days. Sure, we love Peter's underground rock chops—but that's also about the same span it would take a beginner to learn all of Buck's R.E.M. solos.

George Harrison (the Beatles). Harrison struggled so much with the triplet notes on "A Hard Day's Night" that producer George Martin doubled the solo with a piano. Rehearsal tapes show Harrison flubbing the licks so badly, Paul McCartney breaks into a mock cheer.

David Gilmour (Pink Floyd). A blues disciple, Gilmour built his career on melodic solos that changed progressive rock one reverb-soaked run at a time.

The Edge (U2). Early on, the Edge used digital delays to double his picking speed (as heard on "Where the Streets Have No Name"). That sleight-of-hand didn't stop Rolling Stone from naming him No. 24 on its 2003 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Noel Gallagher (Oasis). The lefty Gallagher plays guitar right-handed; maybe he'd gain speed if he used his stronger hand. Just because he can fight with his brotherLiam at the drop of a mic doesn't mean he can turn a rapid-fire lead run.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-0302-slow-guitaristsmar02,0,2880513.story

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I've always admired the fact that Mike has never confused being flashy with being good. On a similar note, speed should not be confused with skill. Mike is not slow, he's the king at any speed :)

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Whether Mike's playing fast or slow, he brings a distinct sound and precision timing to every song. That's what it's about...not how fast the guitarist is ripping up the strings. This guy clearly discredits himself ...Mike can rip with the best of them :045:

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Ahem. Having witnessed Mike Campbell ripping through Bootleg Flyer back when it was known by another name and performed by another band - I don't believe he belongs on this list!

Watching and hearing Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon perform that crazy blistering ascending run in 'Bootleg Flyer' remains one of the most thrilling moments I have ever seen on stage to this day. Talk about playing for your lives!

Mike and Tom L. would take a firm stance (feet spread wide) in preparation, and it is no wonder, for if they did not, each might very well be blown off the stage by the blast of the other's hurricane force prop-wash.

Not only is that run extremely fast, but also the degree to which the performers are so perfectly synchronized is stunning, and dare I say only possible when a very intimate musical bond exists - as if in that moment they share a common spirit, merging together into a single organism.

Every night at that point in the performance, Tom and Randall would get these beautiful smiles on their faces.

There would often be eye contact and nods flashed amongst the band members afterward, in acknowledgment and admiration of that amazing accomplishment.

There may be no higher accolade possible.

At least some people recognize sure-fingered greatness on the guitar when they see and hear it :)

Edited by Relic

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The faster the better? As if it makes you a better guitarist when you play fast... what´s so important about that? Pfff... The main thing is, that the guitarist touches your heart and brings it to the point. That´s what I think makes a guitarist to a good and special one and that´s what Mike is. :heart:

Besides, needless to say that he can play fast. We´ve all seen him so... ;)

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Watching and hearing Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon perform that crazy blistering ascending run in 'Bootleg Flyer' remains one of the most thrilling moments I have ever seen on stage to this day. Talk about playing for your lives!

You should see when he and Jason Sinay play this particular song, hold me back! :045:

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Yeah George, Mike and Pete are all slow but so what. They have more humble solos and more melodic one's than go off in a tangent of speed and sound that has nothing to do with what's going on. They can rock hard and play fast if they wanted to like Slash or Clapton but it's just a matter of choice and it's great to see they make their solos very melodic and fitting to what's going on

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