The Three Guitarists Mark Knopfler Listens To For Pleasure
Innovators and game-changing guitarists paved the way for others to rise on occasion. There are many big names who have become legends in the eyes of the music industry, and they come to mind for a good reason. Can you think of some names who have shared their talents with the world and have had a lasting impact on future generations?
For Mark Knopfler, listening to three legendary guitarists’ craft is a pleasure, and it will be no surprise to most who he picked as his top three. Knopfler shared with Rolling Stone in 1985 that two of them were Robert Johnson and Lonnie Johnson, who had passed away during that period. The third name who was alive at the time was none other than the King of the Blues, B.B. King.
The late blues singer didn’t become the King for nothing. He was known to play with all of his fingers; he had come up with a six-note scale called the B.B. Box, which separated him from his peers, and not he also had the ‘butterfly’ vibrato that was unique to him.
He had so many elements in his playing combined with his voice that he was on another level. Knopfler shared that when he first heard King’s ‘Live at the Regal’ album, it showed him how every element, whether it be the voice, the guitar, and the audience, was crucial to have the whole package.
There’s also the vital part Lucille played, B.B. King’s guitar, which had such a distinct voice. Knopfler, who prided himself as more of a guitarist, not so much as a great singer, adored the fact that the guitar had the potential to be a better voice than a vocalist if you give it the stage that it deserved.
Mark Knopfler’s words about his three favorite guitarists:
“Yeah, a lot of dead ones: Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson. B.B. King, who’s very much alive, is a big influence. I heard ‘Live at the Regal’ when I was sixteen, which was a great moment because I felt a triangle was formed on that record: guitar, voice, and audience, and it was amazing to hear. There’s also the fact that on his records, the guitar seems to do some of the singer’s work — his guitar has such a clear voice. Maybe that appeals to me because I’m not much of a singer in the conventional sense, certainly not like B.B. King is. So my guitar becomes another, the better voice I can use.”
Besides the impact of Robert Johnson and Lonnie Johnson, for the sixteen-year-old Mark, who was growing up, B.B. King became a massive pleasure to listen to as a guitar player in the industry. The amount of wisdom and knowledge that came out of the King of the Blues was immense, and what Knopfler took away from him more than anything was that the guitar could become the most important sound on stage if you give it the attention it needs.