Tommy Thayer picks his favorite songs ever. KISS‘s guitarist Tommy Thayer is one of the most influential guitarists and Thayer likes to add old-school sound and guitar riffs to his music for the KISS band. In this article, we listed what made Tommy Thayer a great guitarist and who influenced his musical style.
Tommy Thayer’s Favorite Guitarists of All Time
Throughout Tommy Thayer‘s musical career, KISS band’s guitarist shared his respect for various guitarists who have influenced his guitar-playing style.
In 1994, Tommy Thayer was hired by Kiss band Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to work part-time on their upcoming book, Kisstory. This opportunity led to other projects and eventually a full-time role with Kiss. Tommy Thayer also started by performing basic tasks such as painting Stanley’s house and cleaning out Simmons’ gutters.
As his involvement with the KISS band grew, Thayer managed the 1995 Worldwide Kiss Convention tour and the Kiss MTV Unplugged concert. In preparation for the Kiss Alive/Worldwide Tour in 1996, Thayer also assisted guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss in relearning their original guitar and drum parts from the 1970s.
Additionally, Thayer served as a producer and editor for several of Kiss’ video and film releases, including Kiss, The Second Coming in 1998, Detroit Rock City (produced by New Line Cinema) in 1998, and The Last Kiss (produced by Showtime Television) in 2000.
Let’s look at which guitarists are Tommy Thayer‘s favorite.
First on the list is Pete Townshend, whose explosive and energetic playing with The Who has inspired Thayer’s own use of power chords and aggressive strumming techniques. Townshend’s innovative use of feedback and distortion effects have also influenced Thayer’s playing style.
Peter Frampton is another major influence on Thayer’s playing style. Thayer has cited Frampton’s use of talk box effects as a major influence on his own use of innovative guitar effects. Frampton’s catchy riffs and melodic solos have also been a source of inspiration for Thayer.
- Ritchie Blackmore
- Pete Townshend
- Peter Frampton
- Davey Johnston
- Alex Lifeson
- Pat Travers
- Ace Frehley
- Mick Ralphs
- Robin Trower
- Ronnie Montrose
KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer revealed this in an interview with the magazine. Here is the Thayer picks as follows (randomly placed):
1. Ritchie Blackmore
As a solo artist, Ritchie Blackmore made a name for himself by founding the hard rock band Rainbow. Blackmore’s unique fusion of baroque music and hard rock gets attention, and as Rainbow evolved, the band’s sound transitioned into catchy pop-style mainstream rock.
In addition to Rainbow, Blackmore also founded the traditional folk rock group Blackmore’s Night with his current wife, Candice Night. With this project, Blackmore shifted his focus to a vocalist-centered sound, exploring a different side of his musical creativity.
Blackmore’s contributions to music are widely recognized, as evidenced by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple in 2016. He has been hailed by publications like Guitar World and Rolling Stone as one of the greatest and most influential guitar players of all time, cementing his status as a true rock legend.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Ritchie Blackmore:
“Because of my age, I was a Deep Purple Mk II and III fan first. I got the Burn album when I was 13 and just barely playing guitar.
Blackmore had a wonderful way of combining fluid blues licks with classically inspired runs. On the song Burn, you can hear him switch his pickup selector between riffs – you can tell it was blow and go, very live, very real. Amazing.”
2. Pete Townshend
As a key member of The Who, Pete Townshend has left an indelible mark on the rock music scene. Throughout the band’s storied career, he has written over 100 songs that appeared on 12 of their studio albums.
These include acclaimed concept albums, such as the legendary rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, as well as chart-topping classics like Who’s Next. In addition to his work with The Who, Townshend has also released a slew of solo albums that boast over 100 songs. His songwriting prowess extends beyond album cuts, with his compositions appearing in radio jingles and television theme songs. With such a prolific body of work, it’s no wonder Townshend is regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Pete Townsend:
“Pete is one of my all-time favorite guitar players from one of my all-time favorite bands, the Who. Pete invented the power chord. He was the original punk rocker. His riffs and writing were and are epic and symphonic. Without Pete, so many great players after him would never have existed.”
3. Peter Frampton
As a major figure in the classic rock scene, Peter Frampton has left an indelible mark on music history with hits like “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Do You Feel Like We Do,” and “I’m in You.” These iconic tracks continue to receive regular airplay on classic rock radio stations worldwide.
Frampton’s influence extends beyond the music industry as well, having made appearances as himself in popular television shows including The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Madam Secretary. It’s clear that Frampton’s impact on both the world of music and popular culture as a whole will not soon be forgotten.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Peter Frampton:
“Frampton had this beautiful way of combining English hard-rock blues guitar with a jazz taste but still rocking hard. He’s an amazing singer, writer, and expressionist. He made the talkbox famous. But my favorite is his open-G tuning, on acoustic and electric – listen to Nowhere’s Too Far (For My Baby).”
4. Davey Johnstone
Davey Johnstone is a Scottish guitarist and songwriter who is best known for his longtime collaboration with Elton John. He has been an essential member of Elton John’s band since the early 1970s, contributing to some of the biggest hits in rock history.
With his different playing styles and ability to blend genres seamlessly, Johnstone has also established himself as a respected and influential figure in the world of rock music.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Peter Frampton:
“Elton John’s guitar player, Davey Johnston, wowed me when I first heard him playing on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. He played in a souped-up Clapton style with amazing tone, articulation, and wide vibrato. Listen to Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding; his playing brings me chills.”
5. Alex Lifeson
Alex Lifeson is a Canadian musician, best known as the guitarist and founding member of the progressive rock band Rush.
He has been recognized for his technical proficiency and creative guitar playing, which has been a key component of Rush’s signature sound. Lifeson has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Rush, and he continues to be a respected figure in the rock music history.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Alex Lifeson:
“Caress of Steel was the first Rush album that I had, and Bastille Day was the song I tried to learn first. Alex Lifeson played beautiful, loud, heavy guitar riffs, all churned into melodic songs with crazy sci-fi lyrics.
Alex had the chords – I call them ‘golden chords’, with these droning, sustaining voicings that made his guitar playing symphonic. His sound was rich. I saw Rush play at the Paramount Theater in Portland in the mid-’70s; you had me hanging on the edge of the stage, mesmerized by what I was hearing and seeing. Alex was regal with long shiny blond hair and bangs, rocking in front of a wall of Marshalls and Hiwatts. I realized then, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”
6. Pat Travers
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Pat Travers:
“One day, I heard a six or seven-minute-long song that completely blew me away. It was a fiery new guitar player named Pat Travers, and the song was called Hooked on Music, from his latest LP called Makin’ Magic, with was only available as an import at the time. I went out and grabbed the album and couldn’t stop listening.
I loved Pat’s chord voicings – I hadn’t heard anything like it. A few months later, he played the Paramount in Portland. He had Mars Cowling and Tommy Aldrich – what a friggin’ band! The sound was huge: he played a Gibson Melody Maker through four Marshalls and a Leslie. I was hooked.”
7. Ace Frehley
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Ace Frehley:
“Ace [Frehley] obviously was a big, big influence on me and my desire to play guitar.
When I started, I discovered Kiss and was immediately drawn to their look, their sound, and most importantly, the guitar playing. Ace played in a Clapton/Page style but made it his own. His guitar solos on the first three albums, plus Kiss’s Alive!, were signature, melodic, and memorable. That’s what makes him and his playing so special.”
8. Mick Ralphs
Mick Ralphs is an English rock guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work as a founding member of the bands’ Mott the Hoople and Bad Company.
He has been praised for his blues-influenced guitar playing and his songwriting contributions to some of the most iconic rock songs of the 1970s.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Mick Ralphs:
“Kiss’s drummer, Eric Singer, often says I sound a lot like Mick Ralphs and have his ‘left hand’.
Mick’s melodic, flowing lead playing and super-wide vibrato always appealed to me, affecting my playing in a big way. In recent years, I was introduced to him, and he was so great to me. It’s nice when someone you’ve looked up to your entire life turns out to be such a wonderful person.”
9. Robin Trower
Robin Trower is an English rock guitarist and songwriter who gained fame as a member of the band Procol Harum before embarking on a successful solo career.
He is known for his soulful playing style, which blends elements of blues, rock, and psychedelic music. Trower’s influential work has earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Robin Trower:
“Robin Trower reached his pinnacle in the US with Bridge of Sighs, and that was right when I was learning to play guitar.
I saw him in Portland around that time – he played a Strat through a wall of Marshalls. He had to be by far the loudest guitar player I’d heard at the time. As I got a little better, I’d constantly riff on Day of the Eagle, Bridge of Sighs, and The Fool and Me. Funny I didn’t end up playing a Strat!”
10. Ronnie Montrose
Ronnie Montrose was an American rock guitarist who rose to fame in the 1970s with his band Montrose. He was known for his innovative and influential guitar playing, which blended elements of hard rock, blues, and heavy metal.
Montrose collaborated with numerous famous musicians during his career, including Sammy Hagar, Van Morrison, and Edgar Winter. His legacy as a guitar hero and innovator continues to influence rock musicians to this day.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, Tommy Thayer shares why he likes Ronnie Montrose:
“Ronnie Montrose is probably the biggest influence on my guitar playing. He was a second-generation Clapton, Bloomfield, and Beck.
His playing was always fiery and exciting – his articulate, melodic style exploded with energy. His playing with Van Morrison and Edgar Winter was impressive, but his first two albums as Montrose took it over the top. They were quintessential hard rock albums of the time, particularly the first one. Listen to his solos on Good Rockin’ Tonight, and I Got the Fire. It’s an ‘A’ lesson for any rock ‘n’ roll guitar player.”