thepsychedelicguitar.com is proud to present 10 quick questions with the Godfather of heavy guitar himself, Leigh Stephens! Leigh was a founding member of Blue Cheer and responsible for some of the wildest, feedback-drenched psychedelic guitar outbursts ever captured on tape.
Besides the "biggies" that stunned everybody (Hendrix, Clapton), who were some not-so-huge guitarists from the late '60s scene that you thought were just great?
The guy from Moby Grape was great and the guy who played the solo on Midnight at the Oasis. I think his name was Amos Garrett. That guy was unbelievable, so innovative. I would love to hear more of him.
I believe there ARE cures for the Summertime Blues: what are your top five?
Golf, golf, golf, golf and golf
What does music mean to you?
Music is the purest form of communication there is. It transcends borders, languages, cultures.
Was there a moment when music or the guitar grabbed you, shook you to the core and said "This is your path!"?
No, I took up the guitar because my parents bought me one. I actually like to play the piano more than the guitar.
What do you still carry with you from the psychedelic era?
A perception and healthy fear of government and mainstream media.
What are five albums that move you, that you consider essential to the soundtrack of your life?
The Bluesbreakers with Clapton
Cream/ Fresh Cream
Hendrix/ Are you Experienced
Bob James/Erroll Klugh/Match
Beatles/The White Album
What have been some lasting sources of inspiration for you? (books, music, stuff of spiritual nature... whatever you'd like to offer up as information or seeds for those reading)
I don't know. I attend the church of audio and visual. I don't need any more religion or inspiration than what I see and hear everyday. I believe in the power of Border Collies. Just look Rocket (one of my Border Collies) in the eye for awhile and you will know what I mean. I look in the sky every night fully expecting to see something spectacular, sometimes I do. Read the Da Vinci Code. It's fun and revealing.
What are 3 causes you feel strongly about? Historic preservation (buildings etc.), preservation of this planet period. Taking it back from the people that would rape it for any resource that makes a buck. And last but not least, getting the money back to the musicians that created the music and out of the pockets of lawyers, unscrupulous managers, and every other parasite that exists in this business.
Describe the strangest gig you ever played.
The Avalon ballroom. the bill I think was Blue Cheer, Charles Lloyd, and maybe the Charlatans. This was when they were putting all those eclectic shows together. Try to imagine, if you will, the audience alone.
Any core philosophy or life wisdom you'd like to pass along, Leigh?
Just do it now, don't wait. The last 20 years of my life have seemed to pass in 20 minutes, life is too short to defer everything to later. Besides you're old and it's all harder to do.
UPDATE May 19, 2004: Leigh is at work on a new CD with "Lots and lots of guitar", a single is out now, and you can find out more at www.leighstephens.com.