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Bob Dylan & his guitarists: From Clapton to Knopfler

by Marian Quantity,

To date, Bob Dylan has employed over eighty guitarists on his 36 studio recordings. In addition to the big names such as Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ron Wood, Mike Bloomfield, Tom Petty or Mike Campbell, there were of course some who were not so much in the limelight before or after, but which were no less interesting or important in the career of the now 74-year-old singer / songwriter & guitarist Dylan. Some of them should be brought (back) into consciousness here.

In 1962, Robert Allen Zimmermann began his studio career under the pseudonym Bob Dylan and with it cracked the five-decade mark a few years ago. Over the years, the guitar and harmonica-playing folk singer has not exactly stood out as a reliable employer. He kept changing musicians and trying out the songs in different line-ups in the studio. Especially at the beginning of his career, this way of working is typical for the creation of his albums.

So it's no wonder that among the guitarists who were allowed to record with the Maestro there are some who were only given this honor for a single song, which may not even make it to a release. Nevertheless, there are a few names to discover in the large list of Dylan guitarists that are worth a closer look. Either because they had a great influence on the work of folk rockers apart from the music, or because they were able to successfully express their creativity in other ways and thus deserve their own place in music history.


Bruce Langhorne

Bruce Langhorne (* 1938) is one of the first guitarists with whom Bob Dylan worked. Dylan recorded his debut solo in 1962 with acoustic guitar and harmonica, but already with the successor, The Freewheelin ‘Bob Dylan‘, which appeared in 1963, he partly gathered a band in which Bruce Langhorne took over the role of lead guitarist. One track from the session finally made it onto the album:, Corrina, Corrina ‘.

Although Dylan refrained from bringing further band tracks onto the market for the following two releases, Langhorne nevertheless played an important role in the further work of his client: He was the godfather of one of Bob Dylan's most successful songs: Bruce Langhorne is, Mr . Tambourine Man ‘, at least he provided the inspiration for the lyrics of the song published in 1965 with the Turkish frame drum he brought with him to an early session. Since he is also involved in the recordings of Bringing It All Back Home ‘, on which the piece was published, it is he who plays the second guitar here. Since 1992 Langhorne has concentrated on the distribution of his Brother Bru-Bru‘s African Hot Sauce, for which he runs quite peculiar advertising campaigns.

Checkout tips:, Corrina, Corrina ‘(from, The Freewheelin‘ Bob Dylan ‘) /, Subterranean Homesick Blues‘ /, Mr. Tambourine Man ‘(both, Bringing It All Back Home‘)


George Barnes

Although there is only one regular recording of Dylan's single 'Mixed-Up Confusion', released in 1962, in which George Barnes (1921-1977) took part, however, at the time of the recording, he had already made music history long ago, if the current state of research can be trusted . Because supposedly the first recording of an electric guitar was not made by Eddie Durham, but was dated two weeks earlier in 1938, when George Barnes recorded two songs with Big Bill Broonzy on an electrically amplified guitar. Before the brief collaboration with Bob Dylan came about, George Barnes was active as a swing and bebop guitarist and had developed a great deal of excitement with the publication of a textbook for jazz guitar (1942) and a few Play-A-Longs (1961!) - shown to be extremely innovative on the teaching material market. In 1970, it was he who brought out the first guitar course on an audio cassette.

Checkout tip:, Mixed-Up Confusion ‘


Al Gorgoni

More recently, Al Gorgoni has focused on playing classical guitar music on one side and writing promotional music on the other. But in the 60s and 70s he was one of the busiest studio (rhythm) guitarists in New York. Evergreens like 'Brown Eyed Girl' (Van Morrison), 'The Sound Of Silence' (Simon & Garfunkel), I 'm A Believer' (The Monkees) or 'Solitary Man' (Neil Diamond) bear just as much his signature as Dylans, Like A Rolling Stone from 'Highway 61 Revisited' and some songs from the previous release, Bringin 'It All Back Home'.

Sample: 'Like A Rolling Stone' (from 'Highway 61 Revisited')


John Hammond, Jr.

In terms of the number of publications under his own name, John Hammond, Jr. - also known as John Paul Hammond and son of Dylan discoverer and producer John H. Hammond - can keep up with Bob Dylan. Just with the commercial success as a solo artist it never really worked out. Nevertheless, one cannot overestimate one's merit for the music world. It is not certain whether Hammond's guitar work, which he did for Dylan in 1965, can even be heard on the publications and that he once played in a band with Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix (together!) For several days is not either documented on sound carrier. However, it was he who introduced Bob Dylan to the members of The Band in 1965, who would then play a major role in Dylan's oeuvre.


Robbie Robertson

It cannot be said that it was Robbie Robertson (* 1943) who electrified Bob Dylan. Nevertheless, Dylan's Coming Of Age as a folk rocker is mostly associated with this backing band, which first called itself The Hawks and then simply The Band. Your guitarist: Robbie Robertson. Dylan got the idea to swap the acoustic guitar for an electric guitar in the summer of 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival. After seeing the disapproval of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band for their use of electrically amplified guitars, Dylan decided to put together an equally electric band for his performance the next day and put on a Stratocaster himself.

This unique “protest cast” gave rise to the desire for a fully electric tour, with which The Band came into play. A six-month world tour began, during which they even managed to go into the studio and record parts of 'Blonde On Blonde' (1966) together. This collaboration turned out to be so fruitful that in the following years it led to a regular studio liaison, during which a total of four albums were created.

Sample: 'Before The Flood' (LiveAlbum), 'The Basement Tapes'


Buzz Feiten

When Buzz Feiten came to the recording session for the album 'New Morning' in 1970, the then 22-year-old exceptional talent had already got to know all facets of musical life within a few years. In 1966 he was still playing as the horn player in a classical youth orchestra in New York's Carnegie Hall, two years later he accompanied some of B.B.'s appearances as a bass player. King and Jimi Hendrix, only to be on stage a year later as guitarist for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in Woodstock. In the following years an extremely active sideman (including Gregg Allman, James Taylor, Wilson Pickett, Bruce Willis) and fusion artist (Full Moon, Dave Weckl Band), he brought his invention - the Buzz Feiten Tuning System - to the market in 1992 . For several years now, the 67-year-old has also been building guitars under his own name, works as a producer and looks after the career of guitarist Aleks Sever, among other things.

Sample: 'If Not For You' (from 'New Morning')


Roger McGuinn

One thing is safe to say: Without Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn's career would never have happened. The now 73-year-old not only played the guitar in a Bob Dylan hit, but also landed one himself with a Dylan song. , Mr. Tambourine Man’s version of The Byrds, whose singer and guitarist was McGuinn, made it to number 1 in the charts. However, this happened at a time (namely 1965) when a collaboration between the two songwriters was not yet possible. Interestingly, the two albums, Bringing It All Back Home ’by Dylan and, Mr. Tambourine Man ’by The Byrds - whose releases are only three months apart - regarded as the birth of folk rock. Eight years later, the two of them worked together for the first time on an album by Dylans: in 1973 Roger McGuinn played the guitar on the recordings for the film music for 'Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid', which also produced 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door '. In 1975/76, McGuinn was also the live guitarist on Bob Dylan's live project "Rolling Thunder Revue".

Checking tips: 'Knockin On Heaven’s Door ’/, Cantina Theme (Workin’ For The Law) ’(both from the album, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid’)


Fred Tackett

Surprisingly, Fred Tackett was only able to join the illustrious circle of Dylan guitarists on the album 'Saved' in 1980 and on 'Shot Of Love' a year later. By then he had already accumulated a considerable number of sideman jobs: Rod Stewart, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Krisofferson, Jackson Browne, Bette Midler, Gregg Allman, Barbra Streisand and Rickie Lee Jones, to name a few. Not to forget his participation in the recordings of the band Little Feat, which he was already at his side as a permanent guitarist before he joined in 1988.

Check out tips: 'What Can I Do For You?' /, Solid Rock '(both from' Saved ')


Danny Kortchmar

The same is true of the studio legend Danny Kortchmar, who, when he went into the studio with Bob Dylan for Shot Of Love in 1981, was already out of the woods in terms of music history. After all, in the 1970s he had been part of a band called The Section (along with Leland Sklar, Craig Deorge and Russ Kunkel) and not only recorded his own albums, but was also one of the most sought-after rhythm groups of the time. Danny Kortchmar can be heard on legendary recordings by Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt and others. Later there were appearances for Joe Cocker, Tracy Chapman, Billy Joel, Neil Young and Robben Ford, among others. Another collaboration with Bob Dylan came in 1988. On the album 'Down In The Groove', Kortchmar is at Randy Jackson's side and Steve Jordan to hear.

Check out tips: 'Watered-Down Love' (from 'Shot Of Love') / Ugliest Girl In The World '(from' Down In The Groove ')


Pete Drake

Since Bob Dylan relocated the recording location to Nashville for three albums in the late sixties, it is not surprising that Pete Drake (1932-1988) is also on them. Drake had made a name for himself in the early 1960s as a pedal steel guitarist and sideman of local country greats and established himself in the scene, so it is hardly surprising that he too belonged to the select group who wrote the albums 'John Wesley Harding'. (1967), 'Nashville Skyline' (1969) and 'Self Portrait' (1970). Here, too, Drake only plays pedal steel guitar, but his influence on the world of the normal, six-string electric guitar was already immense in other ways: Pete Drake landed one of the first hits in 1964 with the single 'Forever', on which this peculiar device called Talk Box was used, which was to be on everyone's lips in the truest sense of the word just a few years later (for example in that of Jeff Beck, Alvin Lee or Ritchie Sambora).

Checkout tip: 'Lay Lady Lay' (from 'Nashville Skyline')




Ted Perlman

There is only one published song on which Ted Perlman is listed as guitarist, but the one with perhaps the longest title: 'Tight Connection To My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love?)' Is the title of the track, published in 1985 on 'Empire Burlesque' , in which Perlman can be heard on guitar alongside ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. Despite this rather small contribution, Ted Perlman became a musically interesting personality, because according to his homepage he worked as a guitarist and producer with artists and bands such as Whitney Houston, Joe Cocker, Chicago, Burt Bacharach, Harry Belafonte and even Engelbert Humperdinck, Engelbert for short, together. He is still active in the studio today, producing and saying the following disturbing sentence into the camera in a commercial for the Autotune program Melodyne: "If I didn't have melodyne, I would be living in Düsseldorf and selling hotdogs".

Sample: 'Tight Connection To My Heart ...' (from 'Empire Burlesque')


Jack Sherman

In 1984 Jack Sherman stepped in as a transitional guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and recorded the self-titled debut with them, a year later he could be heard on Dylan's next production. He recorded the Kris Kristofferson song, They Killed Him ’for the album, Knocked Out Loaded with him. Sherman was in good company, as famous colleagues such as T-Bone Burnett, Ron Wood, James Jamerson Jr., Mike Campbell and Tom Petty took part in the recording of the album. It is no different with the follow-up album, Down In The Groove ’, on which Sherman can probably (!) Also be heard. Among others, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Sly & Robbie, Nathan East and Larry Klein are part of the party. A year later, Jack Sherman turned back to funkier realms and recorded with George Clinton, R&B Skeletons In The Closet ’. In 2012, he was publicly angry about not having been invited to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for the Chili Peppers' admission ceremony.

Check out tips: 'They Killed Him' (from 'Knocked Out Loaded') / 'When Did You Leave Heaven?' ('Down In The Groove')


Daniel Lanois

Perhaps the musically most exciting colleague of Bob Dylan is Daniel Lanois, and that in several ways. The full-time producer (including U2, Willie Nelson, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young) was on the controls for 'Oh Mercy' (1989) and 'Time Out Of Mind' (1997) and is thus responsible for two important, more recent albums. In both cases, Lanois, who is often underestimated as a musician, insisted on taking up the guitar and giving the songs a very special atmosphere with his tasteful playing. Jazz drummer Brian Blade can be heard on 'Time Out Of Mind'. With him, as well as Daryl Johnson (b) and Trixie Whitley (voc / g / kb), Lanois came together in 2010 for a breathtaking recording session called Black Dub.

Check out tips: 'Most Of The Time' (from 'Oh Mercy') / 'Down Road Blues' (from 'Time Out Of Mind')

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