Tuesday, February 18, 2020


10 Black Guitar Players You Should Check Out.

January 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) We’re still diving into Black rock with guitarists! Black musicians have always been a part of hard rock and heavy metal whether it’s creating the music that inspired the path of these genres or being members of bands. Now, we all know Jimi and a lot are probably familiar with Slash of Guns N Roses (and Velvet Revolver). As a result, they’re not going to make this brief list. Let’s get into five Black guitarists in hard rock and heavy metal to check out.

Eric Gales

The Memphis native has a guitar sound with extremely strong blues roots. When he covers rock hits, he gets really into the performance. Very talented, he doesn’t let his gift on the guitar make him disconnected from playing. Sometimes, you get talented guitarists who just play. No chords missed, great speed and accuracy—but it comes off as mechanical. You don’t get that from Gales.

HIs own material is nothing to sneeze at either. Recommendations include the albums Process of Elimination and Crystal Vision.

Favorite Showcase: “Retribution” from Crystal Vision

Tom Morello

Known for his time as the lead guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, Tom Morello is a musician who should be more familiar in recent times. What I love about Morello’s playing is the aggressiveness. It was a requirement considering how hard RATM went in its three albums. Morello kept that same energy for Audioslave. Now, I’m not the biggest folk rock fan but he does some pretty enjoyable folk as well.

Favorite Showcase: “Guerilla Radio” from Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles

Rocky George

I became familiar with Rocky George’s guitar playing via the band Fishbone. However, it was his playing with Suicidal Tendencies that really hooked me. I’ll admit, it was how well his playing fit in with the band on their Join the Army album. I’m a speed freak when it comes to music and Rocky could keep pace with the band’s faster songs. That’s why I recommend…

Favorite Showcase: “I Feel Your Pain” from Suicidal Tendencies – Join the Army

Vernon Reid

I would say that Vernon Reid is a multiple threat as a musician—and he is—but that would do a bit of a disservice to the other members of Living Colour who were also multiple threats. Each of them did something outside of their primary instrument. Then again, this is about guitarists and this entry is about Reid—who is also an incredible singer! I didn’t want to pick an obvious Living Colour song for the showcase but here’s another of my favorite picks for Reid’s well-rounded approach as an artist.

Favorite Showcase: “Type” from Living Colour – Time’s Up

Spacey T.

The guitarist for Los Angeles heavy metal band, Sound Barrier is extremely flexible on the frets. His guitar solos and speed are the one of the things that really sold me on the band—the other being Bernie K’s vocals. Spacey T. has played in other bands such as Mother’s Finest and Fishbone. He really delivers on high energy, fast-paced songs.

Favorite Showcase: “Hard As A Rock” from Sound Barrier – Speed of Light

Ernie C

I dig Ernie C’s guitar playing. It’s similar to Morello’s in the sense of aggression and power. Again, necessary considering he’s playing for fellow classmate Ice-T’s Body Count. Actually, Ice-T admits that Body Count was formed so that Ernie C would have a band to play his guitar in.

The thing is, Ernie C is so good it’s weird that he wasn’t getting auditions often. He would also teach classmate, the late D-Roc guitar. D-Roc would later join Ernie C and Ice-T in Body Count. The band has a lot of songs that will showcase Ernie C’s proficiency but my pick has to be…

Favorite Showcase: “Raining Blood/Postmortem” (Slayer cover) with Body Count

Tony MacAlpine

Probably my favorite player on this list, Tony MacAlpine is known for playing a subgenre of metal called neo-classical metal. It focuses primarily on instrumentals and kind of bleeds over into power metal and progressive metal. His guitar playing isn’t as fast as contemporary and guitar legend Yngwie J. Malmsteen but it’s cleaner, in my opinion.

Favorite Showcase: “Autumn Lords” from Maximum Security

Dr. Know

The axman for Bad Brains, Dr. Know is a versatile guitarist who could likely play almost any style. I’ve always wanted to hear him play something blistering like thrash metal. His guitar work has been mainly rooted in hardcore punk and reggae and has run the gamut of speedy chaos to chill jams. Dr. Know’s guitar is extremely important to what Bad Brain’s sound began as and how it evolved.

Favorite Showcase: “Secret 77” Bad Brains – I Against I

Dean Pleasants

Suicidal Tendencies delivered some great albums with Rocky George on guitar. He came to my attention while going through ST’s albums first appearing on the 1999 release Freedumb. This was a period where Suicidal wasn’t really hitting it out of the park as far as something I’d sit and listen to throughout. However, his guitar playing piqued my interest.

After finding out about his band before ST, Infectious Grooves, I really got a taste of his playing. Infectious Grooves plays funk rock and sometimes, great guitar work shines through funk, blues, and jazz fusion. This was no different. If you want a good earful of Pleasant’s work with the ax, check out this band.

Favorite Showcase: “You Lie…and Yo Breath Stank” Infectious Grooves – The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move…It’s Infectious Grooves

Suzanne Thomas

Most would probably be familiar with the late Suzanne Thomas as the guitarist, songwriter, and singer in the second incarnation of A Taste of Honey as a duo with co-founder Janice Marie Johnson. Her best work to me is on the very early 90s PMS—not the same PMS as Pre-Metal Syndrome. This band played funk metal as well and had a very tight band that oddly didn’t go further. Clips of some of their shows can be found on their Facebook.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.


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