The Six Blues/Country Artists That Influenced Greta Van Fleet
Greta Van Fleet released their debut studio album entitled ‘Anthem of the Peaceful Army’ on October 19, 2018, following the band’s EPs, ‘Black Smoke Rising’ and ‘From the Fires.’ Their first studio album achieved popularity and commercial success and was followed by ‘The Battle at Garden’s Gate,’ released on April 16, 2021. The record received critical acclaim, but Greta Van Fleet was criticized once again for sounding like Led Zeppelin.
Even though the Greta Van Fleet members admitted that Led Zeppelin has greatly influenced their music, they promised to create unique sounds and lyrics in their following albums. The band members Sam and Jake Kiszka revealed that aside from Zeppelin, several blues and country musicians inspired their decision to become professional musicians, and we’re here to find out who these names were.
Almost everyone in the music industry agrees that Jimi Hendrix is one of the most talented and influential guitarists of all time, thanks to his unmatchable talent. The musician started playing the guitar at the age of 15, and at that time, he realized that music was the greatest passion of his life. Hendrix released countless records and put on remarkable stage shows until he passed on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27.
In Jake Kiszka’s words, he said:
“I played on this little acoustic that I grew up with forever. I got to learn a handful of Hendrix songs and a Bob Seger song, Gordon Lightfoot, and some Bob Dylan tunes before I could upgrade. I was like 10 or so. If you think about it, it was intentional.
It’s the subtlety of how to go about really learning how to play. Now, I think that if I had gotten an electric guitar back then, I’d have just cranked the gain all the way up and beat the hell out of it. There would have been no subtlety to it.”
The guitarist has continued to inspire the musicians born years later after his early and tragic death. As one of the younger artists that Hendrix influenced, GVF guitarist Jake Kiszka stated that he started to play guitar at a very young age and learned to play the late guitarist’s records before creating his own songs. In addition, Kiszka named Bob Seger and Bob Dylan as his other muses.
Bob Seger is described as one of the most prominent musicians of roots and heartland rock, and he achieved great fame after releasing his best-selling hits, ‘Still the Same, ‘ ‘Hollywood Nights,’ ‘Against the Wind,’ ‘You’ll Accomp’ny Me,’ and ‘Shame on the Moo.’
While working on his songs, Seger also pursued collaborations with several musicians, such as Bob Seger and bands like the Silver Bullet Band and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. It seems like Jake Kiszka listened to most of these records and tried to play them, which influenced his style and sound as Greta Van Fleet’s guitarist.
Another legendary musician that Kiszka listed in his interview was Bob Dylan, which is not surprising considering Dylan’s longtime career full of success. Dylan has preserved his popularity and commercial success as a songwriter and singer for almost sixty years.
His songs, which sold millions and hit the charts, mainly explored the era’s political and social problems alongside contemporary philosophical and literary styles. So, Kiszka said that he used some of Dylan’s tunes while working on his guitar playing skills before choosing to play electric guitar.
Robert Johnson earned the title of ‘Master of Blues’ thanks to his singing style, guitar skills, and songwriting talent, even though he passed away at the age of 27 due to an unknown cause. It was rumored that he was murdered by a jealous husband who gave him poison, but there wasn’t any solid evidence to prove that. Even after his tragic and mysterious death, the Blues’ master had highly inspired the young blues musicians that wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“Seeing as how my father was a blues musician and had a respect for it, he really wanted me to learn from that. We listened to old blues records, like Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy, stuff like that. I’d just try to emulate what they were doing on the acoustic using my fingers, not with a pick. I learned arpeggios at a young age and all the plucking that Dylan and Joan Baez did. Those lessons made me a better guitarist.”
The Greta Van Fleet guitarist reminded everyone that his father was a blues musician; therefore, they listened to many songs together when the brothers were very young. Kiszka stated that their father wanted them to respect and learn from these blues songs just like he did as a musician. Jake noted that he tried to play guitar with his fingers, not a pick like the old generation musicians, Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy.
Big Bill Broonzy
Big Bill Broonzy can be defined as ‘the man who brought blues to Britain’ and one of the prominent figures of the American folk music revival. He generally performed country/blues songs to African American audiences and gained international popularity with his great contributions to blues music. Broonzy produced more than 300 hundred songs throughout his life, and the Kiszka brothers were able to listen to most of them thanks to their father, who had a great interest in blues and folk music.
The last name that Jake Kiszka mentioned was singer, songwriter, musician, and activist, Joan Baez who is considered an important figure in contemporary folk music. Baez has been performing, creating, and recording for almost 60 years and has aimed to draw attention to global social problems.
Thus, the Greta Van Fleet guitarist took Baez as a great example with her awareness of the important issues and her unique way of playing guitar. Consequently, it seems that Jake Kiszka and the other Greta Van Fleet members listened to and learned many things from the old generation legendary country, blues, and folk musicians.