6 Guitar Players That Influenced Johnny Marr (Part 1)

I’ve been posting clips to my Instagram where I play ‘in the style of’ some of the players that JM has mentioned as influences. So, here’s a short serialised blog to compile them and talk some about where you can hear their traces in his music. There’s no priority order; I’m not claiming #1 is the most influential. Hopefully it will prompt you (as hearing him reference them did for me) to check out their work and cop some of the attitude, music, technique and approaches.

#6 – James Honeyman-Scott

‘Jimmy’ Scott was the guitar player (alongside Chrissie Hynde) for the first incarnation of the Pretenders and his contribution to their first two albums took, what were already great songs (largely written by Hynde), to another level. He also co-wrote ‘Brass In Pocket’.

Marr states that “He was the last important influence on my playing before I went out on my own. The first time I played ‘Kid’ with the Pretenders, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve used that solo to warm up with every day for years.”

For me, Scott is a great example of a player who has lots of ability and technique, but always deploys it wisely to support the song. He introduced some rootsy elements into the New Wave guitar collective – his concise solo on Kid being a great example of that.

# 5 – James Williamson

Primarily known via his stint as the guitar player in the second generation Stooges, Williamson is an interesting character who during the 90’s moved into consumer electronics and won industry awards in his field of expertise.

He was a major influence on Marr: “I’m his biggest fan. He has the technical ability of Jimmy Page without being as studious, and the swagger of Keith Richards without being sloppy. He’s both demonic and intellectual, almost how you would imagine Darth Vader to sound if he was in a band.”

To my ears there is a definite lineage from the acoustic on ‘Gimme Danger’ to tunes such as ‘Hand In Glove’. Also, the Wah running through ‘The Queen Is Dead’ has a real Stooges vibe to it, although arguably Ron Asheton (first Stooges guitar player) is also being channeled.

# 4 – John McGeoch

Arguably the least well-known name on this list, McGeoch was massively influential in the world of post-punk and new wave guitar. His various stints as sideman & collaborator in Magazine, the Banshees and Public Image Ltd and others in some ways mirrors Marr’s journey.

McGeoch used a very creative approach combining signature effects, off-kilter voicings & harmony with serious technique. As a result he was a signficantly in-demand player during the late 70’s and through the 80’s.

Of Magazine’s ‘Correct Use Of Soap’ Marr says “The space means that John McGeoch can really stretch out. Songs like ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Because You’re Frightened’ are based on guitar-playing that is utterly unique.”

You can really hear his influence in solo-period Marr, on tracks such as ‘I Want The Heartbeat‘. Plus the current guitar player in his band, Doviak, can often be seen channeling McGeoch via his Yamaha SG series guitar.

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