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In guitarland, I have a Big Four. These are Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch, Paul Gilbert, and Jason Becker. This is how I got to know George.
Again, it was early 80’s San Jose rock radio that got me onto George Lynch. The station was playing stuff off that first Dokken album: Paris is Burning, Breaking The Chains, and Live to Rock. When I heard Paris is Burning, I was like, “Ahhh, shit, my precious Eddie!!” I thought that any time I heard a mad solo by anyone other than Eddie on the radio.
So I bought that first Dokken album. I think at least half the songs on there were pretty average, but George’s solos made them a little more palatable. For me, anways. It’s funny, on the back sleeve of that album, it shows all the band members. George is so tan I thought he was African American until Tooth N Nail came out.
There was something I liked more about George than I did Eddie, and I couldn’t really put my finger on it ‘til Tooth N Nail came out. By this time I was 16 or 17, and I was starting to get pretty serious about heavy music and guitar. I started figuring out the songs on that album, and then it hit me.
What separates George from Eddie (and everybody else) was finger vibrato (Ed’s vibrato is pretty tough, it’s just that George’s was a tad tougher). In my brain, Lynch vibrato was the key. A wide, slow deliberate massaging of the string. Consistent everywhere on the neck. That is the key, man. Fast playing, slow playing, it didn’t matter. When you hit a note and apply Lynch vibrato, it screams, “I meant this!!” Even if you’re out of key but apply Lynch vibrato, it tells the listener that all that wacky shit was deliberate. It is the perfect punctuation to a whisper or a scream. And he was the first guy I ever heard apply vibrato to power chords, how rad is that?
From that day forward, I started applying Lynch vibrato to my style. Even now if I have a shit night playing live, I always go, “At least my vibrato rocked!” And that saves me from beating myself up. Cuz that ain’t gonna help.
At age 18, I remember thinking, “Well, now that I’ve found the definitive Metal finger vibrato, I guess everyone will catch on and follow suit.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s fairly apparent in the early 80’s as it is now; no one really gives a fuck about vibrato. How is that? Why is that? It’s an easy technique to correct, and it falls under the ‘feel’ category. The judgmental asshole blues pricks will cut you a bit of slack. Everybody has a guitar pet peeve, and mine is vibrato. Friends know I can be harsh with this, and that’s why I get so down on Kirk Hammet at times. And trust me, I love Metallica’s early work. Ride the Lightning is thee shit! So is Master….
And I know a lot of people think I’m right into EVH, and I am, but really only the first four albums. I was more into George, actually. I thought he was a bit more aggressive. And while Eddie was doing Jump, George was guest soloing on a Tony MacAlpine album. And trying to become better. I think Ed was just coasting.
“Bitch, I got your coasting..”
The last Dokken album I bought was Back for the Attack. I do have Lynch Mob Wicked Sensation. And as you may or may not know, by the age of 20 I started moving from Cock Rock to Thrash.
George, I love you man. You fucking fixed my vibrato, and I told you this every time I saw you at NAMM. As a tenth grader, I even had the half and half bleach dye job as well. I got teased at school, but fuck those clowns. My dad hated it, and fuck him, too. Ha ha.
Dokken gigs I’ve seen that I remember: 87 with Loverboy at Marriott’s Great America, and ’89 supporting Aerosmith. Oh, and a Day on the Green, with Metallica, and Van Hagar were headlining. My friends and I were walking to the car as “There’s Only One Way to Rock” was playing.
George, do me a favor; fuck off the single coil strats, the shitty phaser pedal you’re now using, and burn the fucking black fingerless gloves. Play for an hour a day and show every mutherfucker you mean business!
Ah! It won’t happen, I’ve been told:
I do love you though. I’ll always have a soft spot for you. And EVH. And Gilbert. And Becker. You four, baby. You four.
Another vibrato rant can be found HERE