Nov 052014

We all know what we mean when we refer to a “Chuck Berry lick” or the “Bo Diddley beat.” These musicians made popular distinctive musical styles that taught the world a useful approach to arranging a rock ‘n roll song. It’s only just that  the musical devices they made popular should be known by their name. Are there other examples of musical devices being known by a particular musician’s name?

Jerry Garcia and Keith Richards do some distinctive things that could probably lend themselves to a device named after them, but I’m not sure that’s happened yet. My bandmates and I have our own terms along these lines that have not caught on, such as The Foxton, as we call it, when suggesting we add the standard harmony that Jam bassist Bruce Foxton enthusiastically sang at the drop of a hat in every Jam song.

Is Micky Waller the drummer on Rod Stewart’s best songs: “Every Picture Tells a Story,” “Maggie May,” “You Wear It Well”…? Stewart’s best songs from that period (and not his Faces ones – Kenny Jones didn’t do this) have an extremely deliberate, plodding, non-drummer feel, like he set me down behind the drums and simply said, “Keep the beat and don’t fuck it up!” To me, that beat should be named after the drummer who pounded it out.

That’s what I’m talking about.


  17 Responses to “Distinctive Personal Musical Styles That Should Be Copied and Known by Their Creator’s Name”

  1. BigSteve

    Hammering eighth notes on the bass, going higher or lower on the neck only when the chord changes, could be called The Adam Clayton.

  2. cliff sovinsanity

    In Grade 8 someone brought a set of drums to school and asked the drummer to play some ZZ Top. Now mind you Eliminator was big at the time, but was he referring to La Grange. I didn’t think that Frank Beard had a distinctive beat. Regardless, the drummer didn’t know any ZZ Top but he sure knew Wipeout.

  3. There were two that I think could be sourced to the Velvet Underground.

    The Lou Reed would be that oddly stiff double time strumming which was the mainstay of the band.

    The John Cale is that weird unchanging high note that carries on incessantly through a progression, ignoring the fact that certain chords in the series do not happen to contain, nor comfortably accommodate the repeating note. for example, the original version of “Waiting for My Man”, the Cale produced “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (Stooges) and “She Cracked” by the Modern Lovers. “106 Beats That” by Wire. All doing “The John Cale”.

    I am a sucker for both of these devices and immediately think of the source when either is deployed.

  4. Let’s not forget “The Robbie Robertson”, frequent, nearly obsessive use of fretted harmonics in guitar solos. (I believe that this might also be called “The Roy Buchanan” among our more effete music nerds.)

  5. DADGAD and Jimmy Page. For when you absolutely, positively have to play “Kashmir” or “Black Mountain Side.”


  6. trigmogigmo

    There’s a very distinctive “Robert Fripp pattern” guitar style with interlocking/rotating notes.

  7. That distinctive Vox keyboard of Ray Manzarek. Maybe it was because the Doors didn’t have a drummer, but he carried the rhythm of all those songs.

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    We’ve been working our way through old Bauhaus and Love and Rocket records, with a little Tones on Tail thrown in for kicks. Daniel Ash’s sax playing and squonking is pretty distinctive over the decades.

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    And, I was wondering if any of you know the answer: is there really something called The Staunton Lick?

  10. Yes! No one else plays like him – and they should.

  11. Floyd Cramer had that piano lick.

  12. Just listening to a Robyn Hitchcock concert where he mentions what may be the most obvious entry in this category. He talks about himself playing a “Bob Dylan harmonica”.

  13. machinery

    The Mick Jones — the one note solos.

    As in do a Mick Jones here Mike …

  14. cherguevara

    Randomly (finally) thought of something today. Wasn’t there a specific lead synth sound that Steve Winwood used on a few albums? You know that sound, the Winwood.

    Like this:

  15. Yep. I heard the solo in “When You See a Chance” as soon as I started reading you post! It’s almost the synth equivalent of The Wonder, the chromatic harmonica solo style of Stevie Wonder.

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