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Guitar Masters Photo Journal

Guest Blogger: Alan di Perna, author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits (Hal Leonard Books)

Here’s a photo of me with the one and only Keith Richards, taken at Industria Superstudio down in the West Village, NYC on July 10, 2002.  That was the day I interviewed Keef for the cover of Guitar World ’s October ‘02 issue, with photos by Michael Lavine who snapped the shot seen here. It was my second cover interview with Mr. Richards for the magazine. He generously granted me several hours of his time for an in-depth sit-down chat. “I don’t know if he psychoanalyzed me or I psychoanalyzed him,” Keef said on emerging from the interview room. Guitar World laid on all necessary provisions for the shoot and interview, front-loaded by copious amounts of vodka and some Jamaican soft drink known to be one of Keith’s favorite mixers. (Some Stones trainspotter out there can doubtlessly supply the name of the beverage, which I’m afraid has escaped my memory.)

All Hail Dick Dale!!! Having interviewed the King of Surf Guitar for Guitar World magazine and written the text for the Dick Dale exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, I was greatly honored to host Mr. Dale and spend the day with him when he visited the museum in 2010. This photo, by Sara Blackwood, was taken in front of Dick’s exhibit. The guitar I’m holding is one of Dick’s signature Fender Malibu acoustics that he’d kindly autographed for some lucky contest winner. Throughout the day I was impressed by Dick’s indomitable spirit, gentle wisdom and profound strength in the face of some very serious health challenges. That night he held a master class and I was front row center. Thanks to the kindness my dear friend, the curator, organologist and guitar historian Matthew Hill, I was appropriately equipped with a vintage ‘60s Fender Newport acoustic guitar to play in the class that Dick led.






An interview with Billy F Gibbons of ZZ Top is always a bit of a Hunter Thomson-esque adventure. You basically just drop into his life for a day or more and ride shotgun. You invariably end up someplace interesting—conversationally, geographically or otherwise. The trick is getting Billy to sit down and focus on doing an actual interview. It always takes a bit of wranglin.’ This photo was taken on the occasion of my first interview with the enigmatic Mr. G in Houston, TX for the March 1994 cover of Guitar World. The day before, we’d done a photo shoot with two local strippers (alas, I have no images of that). Billy was still in full “art director” mode the following morning and arranged the shots seen here. I’m supposed to be rigged up as his twin, although my complete lack of facial hair does kind of ruin the impression. The stuff we’re holding behind our heads is vintage pickguard material from the old Kay guitar factory. Needless to say, Billy is completely obsessed with vintage guitar gear, among a few hundred other topics. 

Guitar Masters spotlights the players who made it that way: the visionary talents and living legends who developed the sound and style of the electric guitar as we know and love it. This book traces the life stories and assesses the musical legacies of such superstar guitarists as Jeff Beck and Keith Richards as well as anonymous but influential sidemen and behind-the-scenes stalwarts such as James Burton. Veteran music journalist Alan di Perna draws on three decades’ worth of experience as a writer and interviewer to extract the essence of what makes these gifted guitarists so influential and unique.