George Thorogood Defends Keith Richards On His Stance Against Lead Guitar


George Thorogood & The Destroyers frontman George Thorogood recently spoke to Ultimate Classic Rock and supported Keith Richards‘ stance on rhythm guitar about its heaviness as much as lead guitar.

For most guitarists, playing rhythm and lead guitar requires different techniques and tones. Lead guitar is generally thought heavier than rhythm because it embraces more skills and techniques. While rhythm guitar focuses on playing chords and riffs, lead guitar is mainly about playing melodies and solos. The lead guitar helps the musicians add melody to the music, whereas rhythm focuses on driving the music.

The differences between the two are also a hot topic among guitar players. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards is regarded as one of the best rhythm guitarists, making him stand out in the band. He said a few years ago that there is also so much to do with rhythm guitar, so it is not the correct stance to assume that rhythm is inferior to the lead guitar.

When asked about his thoughts on what made John Lee Hooker’s playing unique, George Thorogood referred to his simplicity and rhythm. Then, he defended Keith Richards’ position on the issue and highlighted that he worked with many great rhythm guitar players who did fantastic work. Thorogood thinks there is much to do with rhythm guitar, even with one chord. Thus, he doesn’t see the lead guitar as superior to the rhythm and thinks rhythm doesn’t receive enough credit.

Thorogood’s words on rhythm guitar:

“The genius of John Lee Hooker was his simplicity and his rhythm. There’s not enough said for rhythm guitar. I was so pleased a few years ago that Keith Richards spoke up and said, ‘Look, the rhythm guitar is just as heavy as the lead guitar.’ In the late ’60s, with Hendrix and Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Duane Allman, people would sit there and play these 40-minute solos. Keith said, ‘Well, I can get more done on the rhythm guitar in four minutes than those cats can get together playing for 15 minutes on lead guitar.’

One of the guys who had it together, who could play great rhythm guitar and lead guitar, was Chuck Berry. Another one is John Fogerty. Not many people can do that. Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker were the greatest rhythm-guitar players I’ve ever heard. They could do so much with one chord as James Brown does. It’s a rhythmic thing and women like rhythm. You know, long solos, the ladies will leave the show.”

Recently, George Thorogood completed the first leg of their ‘Crazy Times’ tour with Sammy Hagar. Their schedule will resume on August 23 in Clarkston, Michigan, and their last show will arrive on September 10 in Irvine, California.