Five live stylists


Five impressive guitarists that I’ve been in the same room – or stadium – with.

John Hammond Jr, Basement, 1985
John toured when I purchased ‘King of the delta blues’ and a green Stratocaster. One man and a guitar, sliding blues licks, master of his craft. His dad was the utmost of legendary A&R men. Perhaps he had some good teachers, he put it to great use.

Chuck Berry, Entertainment Centre, 1989
Package tour, Mary Wilson, Everly Bros, Lesley Gore, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. “When I bring my foot down when we’re playing, stop.” And when you’re not playing, start. The local backing band weren’t getting it, neither key nor rhythm. Chuck was exasperated. He played ‘Honest I Do’, the band clicked, Chuck figured he’d ride this groove, ripped thru a few more hits and finished on ten minutes of ‘Around and around’, a tremendous guitarist! He went 20 minutes over his 20 minute set, was followed by one very angry Jerry Lee.

Brett Curotta, Petersham Hotel, July 1990
Neither first nor last Mass Appeal show I caught, but the most memorable. Focussed intensity, super loud, Brett was a monster with a Marshall stack. 2004 or so, MA played the Annandale, Brett broke his guitar by playing too hard. It just fell apart in his hands.

Keith Richards, SCG, April 1995
‘Midnight Rambler’ breakdown, Keith hit one chopped E chord. Perfect timing. Perfect echo in the stadium. One chord, worth a million gtr solos.

Alex Chilton, Metro, 1996
Stand-up bass, two-piece drumkit, Alex played a hollow-body Gibson, those great songs, clean and simple, aint heard anyone make so much of the two-finger blues box. Magic.

There’s been a lot of others, from Link Wray to Rick McCollum. I’m a lucky man.



About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Rick Kane says

    Hi Earl

    Love it! Man what I would give to have seen Chuck!

    Here’s a few of mine:

    Johnny Diesel started his career in a Perth band called Innocent Bystanders. For a while in Perth (a cover band city if ever there was) in the mid 80s Innocent Bystanders were the best original band in town. And Diesel at the barely coming into his own as a teenager age of 16 was the coolest guitarist in town.

    Oh and I saw Albert Lee with The Everly Brothers. That was cool. They were great. He was shit hot.

    B.B. King is probably the best guitarist I have seen live at the Perth Concert Hall in the 80s.

    Even Justin Townes Earle who isn’t considered a gun guitarist is amazing in how many sounds and melodies he can produce from one instrument and two hands.

    But I haven’t seen better than the E Street Band with Bruce, Little Steven and Nils jamming. Three world’s best guitarists both showing off and interconnecting is the bomb. And I’ve witnessed them with and without the assistance of jazz cigarettes.

    I must include Lucky Oceans even though he isn’t strictly a guitarist. I do so because he plays my favourite instrument, the pedal steel. And he is like super good. he’s won a Grammy! Living in Perth in the 70s and 80s we were super conscious that we were a long way from the eastern states and missed so many international tours. But to have someone like Lucky Oceans who we could go see play at a small pub in Freo on a Saturday afternoon was our own little secret.


  2. Earl – saw Chuck Berry play live in Barcelona in 1987. It was crazy. Will stay with me forever.

    Huge Chain fan as well. Matt Taylor is a legend of Aussie rock and blues, often ignored.

  3. I’ve heard about that Chuck Berry gig in ’89 from a friend of mine who was 17 at the time. Apparently Col Joye put in an absolute stinker of a performance and my mate’s dad (who was there to see Bo Diddley more than anything) heckled him the whole time.

  4. Brett Curotta was mindblowing. A really good surfer, he travelled to England to compete in some tour events, caught a punk rock show on a stopover, rang his sponsor to say he was going to pay him back the cost of the air ticket for not surfing in the events and poured his heart into guitar and band.

    What about Blackie? Ed Kuepper? Johnny Ramone? (To be fair, I’m more likely to be paying attention to the bass player)…

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