Mike Figgis’ documentary Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me follows one of Rock n’ Roll’s most prolific guitarists as an intimate story of music and art.
On the cutting edge for over 5 decades, Ronnie Wood may best be known as one-half of one of the best guitar duos of all time (with, of course, Keith Richards as a member of The Rolling Stones). However, Wood’s extensive career has seen him a member of legendary groups like The Birds, Jeff Beck Group, The New Barbarians, Rod Stewart, and The Faces, carving out his distinct place in annals of Rock n’ Roll history along the way.
Originally the IN-EDIT NL opening film, the year’s events have turned it into a very special screening happening at Amsterdam’s Melkweg on 4 July 2020. With this on the horizon, we thought we would take a look at some of the best guitar duos of all time with this article. Do you agree with our picks? Who do you think are some of the best guitar duos of all time?
Ronnie Wood & Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
We know, we know! We could have said Keith Richards and Brian Jones or Keith Richards and Mick Taylor here as well. But, this is an article celebrating the life of the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, so it is his collaboration with Richards that makes the cut. Though a studio and touring member of The Rolling Stones since the mid-1970s, it was not until the early 1990s that Ronnie Wood received “official” member status. Regardless, his contributions to the Stones canon is undeniable. His slide and steel guitar work fits in perfectly with the band’s delta blues roots, and the Richards/Wood dynamic was one of the original guitar duos to blur the lines between lead/rhythm. Still going strong with The Rolling Stones some 5 decades after joining, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards are examples of the ultimate in Rock n/ Roll longevity.
Slash & Izzy Stradlin (Guns N’ Roses)
The late 80/s/early 90s pretty much belonged to Guns N’ Roses. With its charismatic once in a generation vocalist to its legendary tales of debauchery Guns N’ Roses is one of those trash metal bands that sit atop the pinnacle of an era. It’s guitar duo of Slash & Izzy Stradlin, not only complemented each other, creating the essence of the Guns N’ Roses sound but also oozed cool from every corner of the stage. The top hat-wearing, sunglassed, party animals were the heir apparent to The Rolling Stones lead/rhythm dynamic. This sound is (in my opinion) best experienced via ‘Appetite for Destruction’ on the likes of ‘Mr. Brownstone’ and ‘Paradise City’, but the more symphonic elements of ‘Use Your Illusion 1+2’ also provide ample space for the Slash/Izzy machine to shine.
The Allman Brothers Band
It would be something of a crime to single out two of The Allman Brothers Band members that would fit into the “duo” definition. From original members Dickey Betts and Duane Allman to the decade-plus contributions of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, The Allman Brothers Band represent that Southern US-style or rock n’ roll that was built around the guitar. As much a live act as the creators of classic studio material, the guitar stylings of The Allman Brothers Band will always make such lists.
James Hetfield & Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
Maybe more a singer and guitarist duo, it is undeniable that the thrash metal of Metallica would not be where it is today without the guitar work of Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield. Listening to Hetfield’s rhythm work, one would be hard-pressed to think of more complicated riffs for many a singer/guitarist, while Hammett is nothing short of a metal guitar god. On virtually every track, the combination of Hammett and Hetfield shines through with the likes of ‘One’, ‘Fade to Black’, and ‘Master of Puppets’ prime examples.
Stone Gossard & Mike McCready (Pearl Jam)
The seminal staple of the Seattle grunge era Pearl Jam is one of those rare bands that have stood the test of time, pushing through the angst-driven sound of the era and evolving into something timeless. Though much attention is reserved for lead singer Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam’s one-two guitar punch of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready play as strong a role in the band’s success and sound. Blurring the lines between lead & rhythm, Gossard and McCready juxtapose the traditional distorted electric of the former with the clean, blues-inspired riffs of the former, into something instantly recognizable.
Jonny Greenwood & Ed O’Brien (Radiohead)
Though very different, the guitar duo for Radiohead has perhaps the most symbiotic relationship of any on this list. Greenwood’s more traditional guitar showcase combines with O’Brien’s experimental penchant into the sound of a defining 21st Century band. Greenwood’s sound is best heard on the likes of ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘Creep’, while O’Brien’s experimentalism can be felt on ‘2 + 2 = 5’ and ‘Lucky’
IN-EDIT NL & Piece of Magic Entertainment presents Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me (2019) + Livestream Q&A @ Melkweg, Amsterdam on 4 July 2020. 19:00 – 21:00 CET – Event
By Steve Rickinson
Featured Image: Gorupdebesanez; derivative work: Miss-Sophie / CC BY-SA