Two years ago, the world lost a truly phenomenal guitar player.
Gary Moore, one of the most important blues rock guitar players of all time, touched many people with his music. Through a combination of tone, melody and feel, his playing influenced many guitar players all over the world. He should be required listening for any serious musician, no matter what genre (including metal).
In recent years, I find it more important than ever to respect and acknowledge music from musicians who are no longer with us. I've noticed a trend in young guitarists, particularly in rock/metal, where they all have the same set of influences, in particular "shred guitarists." I believe more than ever that it's important to develop a bigger understanding and appreciation of guitar players outside of the shred category. For me, listening to Moore was a big step in developing my own playing beyond solos that sound like exercises.
An aspect of Moore's playing that I feel is important for other musicians to notice was his control of string bends and vibrato. When performing live, he would never go out of tune, which is actually very rare, even for big-name guitarists. Having a strong ear and being able to hear if your bends are perfectly in tune is the sign of a strong musician. It's not something that can be practiced like exercises to a metronome. You need to develop your ear to hear the notes you are producing from your instrument.
I know many guitarists who can play extremely accurate scales, exercises and sweep arpeggios but can't string bend in tune. Listen to any solo from Moore and notice how accurate and musical his string bends and vibrato are. He makes the guitar sing and sound almost vocal. That's the sign of a musician that's mastered his instrument.
As suggested listening, here are some of my favorite Gary Moore recordings:
• "The Messiah Will Come Again" (After the War)
• "The Loner" (Wild Frontier)
• "Perisienne Walkways" (Back on the Streets)
• "Out in the Fields" (Run for Cover)
• "Separate Ways" (After Hours)
These are just a select few, but I'd highly recommend looking for live concert footage to see just how great of a musician he was. He was also a great improviser of guitar solos.
In addition to being a respected blues and rock guitarist, he also experimented with jazz fusion. To finish, here's a live recording of the song "Hurricane" from 1982. The lineup is absolutely amazing: Gary Moore, Ian Paice, Neil Murray and Don Airey. Check out the drum solo in the middle from Paice. It makes me want to play drums!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.