100 Greatest Guitarists

51

Johnny Marr

johnny marr
Peter Pakvis/Redferns

The Smiths' guitarist was a guitar genius for the post-punk era: not a showboating soloist, but a technician who could sound like a whole band. As a kid studying Motown records, Johnny Marr would try to replicate not just guitar riffs but piano and strings too, all with his right hand. His voluptuous arpeggios – often played on a chiming Rickenbacker with incredible flow and detailing – were every bit as essential to the Smiths' signature sound as Morrissey's baritone. And he was a tireless explorer: For 1983's "This Charming Man," Marr dropped knives onto a '54 Telecaster, a revelatory incident that Radiohead may have been alluding to in their Smiths-inspired "Knives Out." "He was a brilliant rhythm player, rarely played solos, so full of sounds," said Radiohead's Ed O'Brien – part of an entire generation of British guitarists who took their cues from Marr. "I've been in the studio with him, and there's nothing he cannot do on guitar," said Oasis' Noel Gallagher. "The man's a fuckin' wizard."

Key Tracks: "This Charming Man," "How Soon Is Now?"

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