Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greg Howe and Marty Friedman -- Birthday Tribute

Greg Howe and Marty Friedman, two of modern rock guitar's dazzling exponents, just happen to share the same birthday!

Greg Howe (born 8th December 1964) came to prominence after being discovered by Shrapnel Records head Mike Varney who at the time was soliciting guitarists' demos and writing a monthly Spotlight column for Guitar Player Magazine. Howe's outstanding self-titled debut, Greg Howe, was released on Shrapnel Records in 1988.

Emerging at the peak of the neo-classical shred guitar era, when it seemed that a new usurper to Yngwie's crown popped up with a new album every month, Howe's album revealed a fresh musical concept that combined rock, funk and blues influences with cutting-edge rock guitar techniques. To top it off, the writing on Howe's debut was extremely mature, borrowing more from Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs than Yngwie.

In recent years, Greg Howe has dabbled as sideman on the pop tour circuit as lead guitarist for the likes of Michael Jackson and Enrique Inglesias. He continues to embrace his rock-fusion roots on his recent albums, although he seems to have downplayed the stomping, funkier aspects of his early work.


Marty Friedman (born 8th December 1962)also made a name for himself emerging in the late 80's from Shrapnel Records stable of virtuoso shredders. Like Shrapnel label-mates Racer X, Cacophony featured a twin-lead guitar assault, with Friedman and co-guitarist Jason Becker attempting to break new fingerboard-speed records.

After Cacophony disbanded in 1989, Friedman joined Dave Mustaine's Megadeth in 1990. Friedman's nimble fretwork and unusual use of exotic Eastern scales were the perfect foil to Mustaine's crushing rhythm style. During his 10 year tenure, the band built a huge following, selling in the region of ten million albums. It's interesting to note that even during his time with Megadeth, Friedman continued to produce solo albums which were released on the Shrapnel label.

After his departure from Megadeth, Friedman moved to Japan where he continues to live. He collaborates on numerous musical projects with Japanese artistes and has even been known to host television talk-shows given his fluency in Japanese.


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