Guitar maestro Richie Kotzen (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, solo) said that being universally adaptable is the mark of any good musician, explaining to Total Guitar during a recent interview:
“You should be able to solo in any key – major or minor – if you plan on playing music. One thing I’ve noticed, especially in hard rock, there are so many musicians who sound like they’ve only been playing six months when forced outside that one style. It can be like a bull in a china shop… a complete miss!
“Guitarists can get caught out playing just in A minor or in one blinkered genre and it’s a bit like screaming all the time. I don’t know how musicians can be so great in one way and then suddenly not so much. I’m not saying go from playing rock to playing [John Coltrane’s] ‘Giant Steps’ overnight – there are varying degrees of rock and some people can’t even make that switch.
“I’m not a jazz musician, I can fake a jazz lick real good but I’m not George Benson. Nobody plays guitar like him – nobody. To me, he’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived, period. That was the first concert I ever went to as a kid – I saw George at Valley Forge Music Fair, followed by Stevie Wonder the week after!
“I grew up outside Philadelphia, so there was a lot of R&B and soul on the radio, which is why I have a lot of those kinds of influences.”