James earned a BA degree in Music Performance-Keyboards from Concordia University and is a recording artist, composer and producer.
As Terry Kath, guitarist of the rock band, Chicago Transit Authority, rips through an unimaginably-complex yet tasteful guitar solo, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone Magazine's 2011 so-branded greatest guitarist of all time, leans over to Kath's band member, Walt Parazaider, to say, "Your guitar player is better than me."
This well-known quote takes place in 1967, as Chicago Transit Authority (CTA - now known as Chicago) plays a live gig at Hollywood's famous Sunset Strip nightclub, The Whiskey-A-Go-Go.
Chicago's phenomenal career began in L.A.
Their ever-growing tightness becomes the backbone of a new sound in Rock. With the addition of a 3 part horn section and thanks to militaristic, grinding, daily rehearsals led by Chicago's manager from 1967-1977, James William Guercio, Chicago becomes an 'overnight sensation'.
This next Hendrix quote shows the highest respect one musician can possibly hold for another. Hendrix, over the microphone in the middle of a concert says, "You gotta check out this guy Terry Kath. His band is CTA. He's the best guitar player in the universe." Chicago: Terry Kath FAQ - Chicago Rocks!, http://www.timmwood.com/kathfaq.html (accessed December 25, 2011).
Hendrix added Chicago to his tour for a short while where he and Terry developed a strong bond. The 2 superstars are known to have jammed at least one time onstage.
Maybe THE best example that displays Terry's Kath's awesome talent.
Cover of Rolling Stone's Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time!!!?
On the Cover of Rolling Stone?
To this day, Rolling Stone ignores Terry Kath's talent; and the magazine's editors continue to exclude the band Kath's wizardry helped make famous - Chicago.
It's ironic that the person named #1 on the greatest guitarists of all time list, Jimi Hendrix, declares Terry Kath the best; and Rolling Stone doltishly inquires, "Terry, who?" Ha-Ha!
A look at the partial, biased member list composing the Rolling Stone "greatest" voting committee may help explain:
Trey Anastasio, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket), James Burton, Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Gary Clark Jr., Billy Corgan, Steve Cropper, Dave Davies (The Kinks), Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Tom DeLonge (Blink-182), Brian Hiatt (Senior writer, Rolling Stone), David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Jim James (My Morning Jacket). MLA: "Red Hot Chili Peppers News. Forum. Fansite. I'm With You News ..." Insert Name of Site in Italics. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Dec. 2011 <http://stadium-arcadium.com/>.
To be fair, highly-respected, "brand name" musicians like Don Henley and Joe Walsh also cast their votes as did many other world-class guitarists, musicians and writers.
The ORIGINAL Chicago Transit Authority
For Rolling Stone magazine to ignore Kath's guitar playing wizardry in favor of adding no-talent names like Carl Broemel and Nancy Wilson to a list of guitarists that are supposedly "The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time", is a blatant travesty!
Kath could play circles around EVERY one of the 100 on this sham of a list.
Terry Kath composed "Oh Thank You Great Spirit" for his friend and contemporary, Jimi Hendrix, who died September 18, 1970. The song demonstrates Kath's prestissimo, fast-breaking, yet - deliberate note choices. This cut was indexed 8th. On Chicago VIII, released in 1975.
"Oh Thank You Great Spirit", over all other songs Kath penned, displays his full break free approach (if only for a moment in his short lifetime.)
"Oh Thank You Great Spirit" also proved to be a haunting, prevision for Kath's death in 1978. Kath was into guns in a big way. He owned many different types and makes, and friends say he had a near morbid fascination with guns.
While cleaning one of his many deadly toys at a friend's house, Kath played a game of Russian roulette... Unfortunately, Terry lost. Unaware a bullet was in the chamber, he pointed the gun to his head, pulled the trigger and was instantly killed.
Terry's amazing guitar virtuosity is displayed... "Oh Thank You Great Spirit."
A Challenge For Rolling Stone
Why are Terry Kath and Chicago on the Rolling Stone "they don't exist list"?
Is it because Terry and Chicago wrote incredibly difficult music most of these limp-listed names could not begin to simulate?
Is it because Kath's work is beyond your ability to write about?
Or is it because Terry was so good, he made your current directory a literal joke?
Following, is a fantastic way to resolve this question that's been raging for almost 50 years:
Assemble a group of young (as yet undiscovered) guitarists between the ages of 18-30. Play Terry Kath's solo from "25 or 6 to 4", his incredible solo found in "Ballet For a Girl in Buchannon", or perhaps his best guitar solo taken from "Oh Thank You Great Spirit" for these 100 hot-shots... But isolate them, thereby eliminating influential 'looks around the room', and most importantly, do not tell them who they are hearing!
Most likely, virtuoso guitarists at this age have never heard the name, Terry Kath. Keep the names of other Rolling Stone choices secret as well. Make this a double-blind test! Then...
Choose Nancy Wilson's best solo...
Or better yet, choose your #2 pick, Eric Clapton. Play Eric's absolute best guitar solo against Terry's. Then, let this group vote.
This would be a REAL test; not a political bunch of pure BS!
If YOUR #1 pick, Jimi Hendrix said Terry Kath is #1, does it not follow you, at the very least, give Terry consideration... Seems like plain, old common horse sense to this writer/musician.
Truth is, Rolling Stone magazine, you made a glaring, inexcusable decision to leave out the REAL "greatest guitarist of all time" - and thousands of other musicians know it!
© 2011 James Ranka
Marc on December 07, 2019:
It is good to read an author who understands. Chicago wrote very diverse music with Terry at the lead. Terry changed the sound of his guitar on each album. Especially the wah wah. I was lucky to have seen these guys 3x with Terry. Great article
Ted Fiorito on December 06, 2019:
Terry could go from being a Machine Monster on guitar to Classical, Country, etc... as well as any guitarist. Terry is in my top 10 Favorite no doubt, along with Clapton, David Gilmour, Duane Allman, SRV, Freddie King, Mr. Jimmy, Chuck Berry, BB King, Buddy Guy. Rolling Stone is a lost stone by ignoring the greatness of Terry Kath.
Spiro Agnew on August 05, 2019:
If you listen to Chicago's albums with Terry, you can hear the change of his sound. I loved his wah wah. I seen him 3x with Chicago. He ruled the stage. One of my favorite tunes that highlighted Terry and Pete Cetera was on Chicago VII. Woman don't want to love me. That bass track and his wah wah is phenomenal
Ognyan Nachev on July 20, 2017:
Terry was the incredible talent - musician, guitarist, singer, writher - Hi made & led Chicago 1967 - 1977. Thanks for the music Terry!
Philip on December 31, 2016:
Put on Chicago's first album, skip to the last song, forward to about 1:25. This is possibly the best power trio jam ever pressed into vinyl. I defy anyone to show ma a Cream jam better than this. Three amazing players and Kath is beyond unbelievable.
Meterman on February 27, 2016:
I have been reading posts about Terry all day... I have been in a Kath mood today. Somewhere in all these comments, I wonder which one was from Andy Aledort. A post about who was the best guitar player, someone who might have known both players??? Shit, if Andy hasnt posted on here yet, I would like to hear what he would have to say... But a comment or two leads me to believe he already has.
Neil B on February 02, 2016:
Any list of greatest rock guitarists that does not include Kath, Alvin Lee, or Randy California should be seen for what it is, a contrivance designed to sell media and not an objective assessment of talent. The Rolling Stone list reminds me of the old joke that a camel is a " horse created by a committee." Along with Jimi, these guys are thoroughbreds.
MJM on February 01, 2016:
It seems to me, having grown up in the 1950's and 60's, I recall Dick Cavett interviewing Jimi Hendrix asking him how it feels to be the greatest guitar player in the world. Jimi's response was that he did not believe that he was. Dick asked him "who is then?" Jimi's response - "Terry Kath".
QuintLeo on January 25, 2016:
With all due respect to Kath's fine playing, he wasn't the greates. Top 100 NO QUESTION, and perhaps an outside shot at the top 10, but definitely not #1.
Rolling Stone has a severe case of rectal-cranial inversion when they ignore Kath.
Tanya3 on December 04, 2015:
Good article, but it is inaccurate to say that Terry was playing Russian Roulette. He thought the gun was unloaded and was just messing around. Russian Roulette is when you know the gun has one bullet and you are playing a game of chance, knowing you can die. It is unfair to imply that he was being much more reckless than he was.
ron from hawthorne on October 24, 2015:
i seem to recall a story that in some way, chicago insulted the Rolling Stone people and that's why terry kath is not on their list of top guitarists and never will be. kath was the best and thanks for this story.
JeffW on July 18, 2015:
It is a shame that his incredible talent isn't recognized even to this day.
I feel blessed that I got to see him perform at The Lakeland Civic Center in the seventies.
Forced my way up to the stage, leaned up against it and took pictures!
Oh, the memories.
robertcaspar on April 09, 2015:
terry was hands down the best guitarist being a pro musician I could imitate him quite well but some of his music was impossible to reproduce a tragic loss maybe if he were alive pet cetera and danny seraphine would still be in band pete cetera played with a guitar pick so what his work on introduction and a question 67 and 68 Chicago brought greattalent to music and was the best band in second half of 20th century pankow was an excellent arranger and player god bless you terry I miss you very much
Batman on April 04, 2015:
Some people say that TK used a lot of double hammers, which is kinda like cheating. I like the style. But I love his chops, no one can come close.
rich on September 11, 2014:
Terry was the best. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 95 I got front row seats for the Night and Day tour. Second best show I've seen.... The only one better was the time Carlos Santa played with them in 81. I unfortunately did not get to see Terry live. But to me the number one band of all time is Chicago. Many are great... But nothing beats Chicago. I have a very rare LP set of them with a Giant poster only distributed to radio stations. Mine has stamped not for sale. The concert was at Carnigie Hall in 72... I think. Its mint. I plan to be buried with it. :-)
sambucaron on March 29, 2014:
@Thundercat----I defy you to go to youtube to view Chicago at Tanglewood, 1979 and view 25 or 6 to 4 or anyversion of ?67 and 68and tell me with a straight face that TK was 'not as good' as Duane....hell, half of Duanes talent was Dicky Betts and nowhere in my recollection does he ever approach the speed and taste of TK
Clog on February 20, 2014:
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 12, 2014:
To Richard: I attempted to add more to my response to you but was blocked to a cemented number of words, so you and all others will need to fill in the blanks. Sorry... .
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 12, 2014:
Hi Richard, your occasional usage of simile, "house of a horn", " sonic serpent", and a touch of alliteration lead me to believe you are a copywriter, a magazine writer/editor or a news reporter. Doesn't matter how close my guess, you're way with The King's English is hugely impressive. If you are NOT a writer, you are depriving us all!
I wrote this post in anger as the "Rolling Stone Top 50 Rock Guitarists" issue had just been released. For the 25th. time, Terry was missing. I think your comments are spot on with two exceptions.
I disagree with: " these discussions degrade into something like sports talk." In the Baroque Era, around 1600 A.D., players of the day (Bach,ex.) regularly held competitions for finding the best of the month, year, etc. One more thing: I wrote a review on a relatively new (at least to The 50 States) guitar-based group that, in my opinion will change Rock 'n Roll's sound again. The link is: http://rankamedia.com/?p=2095.
Thanks for your wise and very informed comments.
Richard Foulkes on February 12, 2014:
Comparing artists is dangerous territory copywriter. Just saying top 50 guitarists as an example leaves out flamenco most jazz players classical and other amazing artists that use this exact same instrument. Even trying to limit the list to rock guitarist leads to exclusion of many greats! Our obsession with the ranking seems to run against the basic grain of the freedom that our love of the rock 'n roll genre has at its core. Most of these discussions degrade into something like sports talk which to my mind have little value to the understanding or appreciation of rock 'n roll guitar. I saw Terry play at Gonzaga in Spokane in 1969. He was a pivotal part of a high-energy an incredibly tight band and live he absolutely impressed with his speed and his triple threat of rhythm and vocal. Chicago was an orchestrated horn band and Terry was an element of danger as he could take his guitar out on the tight wire and provide tension and spontaneity that otherwise couldn't happen. His use of feedback incredibly fast justin time pentatonic lead patterns and wha kept this band in the rock 'n roll genre. Still he had to live within that house of a horn band that is playing from a songbook. Jimi Hendrix didn't. Jimmy was free to explore in ways that no one before him had been able to take full advantage of. His background playing in the rhythm and blues circuit, the blues circuit and his knowledge of country stylings and jazz stylings made him an ideal explorer at that psychedelic and power driven moment and musical history. He was also was a bit of a workaholic and recorded nearly everything that he experimented with. I saw him play twice. Once in Spokane at our coliseum and and a second lucky occasion in London when I was an exchange student there in 68. To watch Jimmy ride that sonic serpent through a fender Stratocaster and Marshall amplifier with a fuzz face, a wha pedal was for many of us a moment that indelibly changed our world view of music and the idea of a musician. You were "experiencing" his explorations using this art form. He was a showman because he had to be and gave you your freak show teeth picking and gyrating but something bigger and more significant was blindingly present. I think this is what humbled and inspired Eric Clapton and others that saw him in London at that time when they compared their talents to this artistry. Somehow this energy that burned so brightly in Jimi Hendrix has inspired perhaps millions to accomplish to give more of themselves. This may ultimately be the point of all great art.
So Terry should not have been left off the list and I fully agree with the thesis of your piece. However as an artist to my muse Terry was an extremely accomplished journeymen but never the inspiration of a shaman like Hendrix.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 11, 2014:
Well, thank you very much, Evan. Your heartfelt comments mean much to The Copywriter.
Evan on February 10, 2014:
Thank you so much for this. Classic rock and music in general is my greatest passion and Terry is one of my favorite musicians. Chicago, Traffic and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac are my favorite underrated bands. Rolling Stone is a joke for excluding Chicago from their ranks. Terry's guitar playing and the entire bands harmonies and musicianship easily cement them as one of the greatest bands of all time.
One day I would love to be a classic rock writer and reading your piece has been very motivational. I live your style and passion, but mainly appreciate that you love Terry and are calling out Rolling Stone on their omission. Great journalism!
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 09, 2014:
Just making a point, quikmart. I was not attempting to downplay the abilities of other guitarists - but in comparison with Kath and Hendrix, these mentioned players were/are not in the same league. Appreciate your comments.
quikmart on February 08, 2014:
The only thing I don't agree with in this article and in many of the comments are the disparagements of other great guitarists. You don't have to put down other performers to champion Kath.
What I liked most about his work was his ability to blend beautiful solo work into the total sound of the song- a great example being "Poem For The People." Chicago was a unique thing, they had a singular sound that will always resonate with me. Only Kath could have been their guitarist. WTF is with Rolling Stone, I have no idea. He should have been top ten.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 07, 2014:
Appreciate your comments!
Fan on February 07, 2014:
I've been listening to a lot of CTA lately and got bored so I googled the best guitar players of all time and Rolling Stones list came up. I started with 1-10....no Terry. Kept going and no Terry?! I was pretty surprised so I googled the same thing but with his name and your article came up. I really enjoyed reading it!
Now back to listening to some CTA..
Allison on January 31, 2014:
I am not a musician, but a music enthusiast and Terry Kath is my favorite musician of all time...his voice and his guitar playing. The Chicago Transit Authority is my favorite album of all time as well. I could listen to his playing and soulful voice for days on end.
Tim Gates on November 06, 2013:
I have been a Chicago fan for over 40 years and I enjoy listening to "Free Form Guitar" off of CTA (first album). That REALLY shows what he could do on a Fender.
S. Benford on November 06, 2013:
I am 51 and learned how to play the trumpet because of guys like Herb Alpert and Lee Loughnane of Chicago. Chicago was my favorite group growing up and Terry my favorite guitaist. Lamm used to take pot shots at RS on songs like "Critics Choice" so it is no surprise to me that RS ignores them. One song that is one of m favorite that never seems to get mentioned is "Taken it Uptown" that was on the last album before Terry died. I have heard conflicting stories however on how Terry died. The gun he used was not a revolver so there is no way he was playing Russian Roulette. The gun he had that day was the type that a clip slides in under the handle. His roadie friend was pleading with Terry to put the gun away and Terry showed his friend the empty clip. Terry said, "See? it ain't even loaded". Slammed the clip in, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Only one problem. Although the clip was empty, the chamber housed a bullet. The gun would not have fired had Terry not put the clip back in.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on June 04, 2013:
Cory on May 19, 2013:
better, best, doesn't matter. Just love the music, Kathy and Chicago left us great music to enjoy and treasure just like Hendrix and others. Kath's rhythm and lead job was an unusual task for any band, let alone one that created such great music, not just songs or memorable solos. Embrace it, he was truly a wonder, enjoy the legacy in your own heart but mostly just enjoy the music. "it was fun, I don't know about anytHing else"
azfourzig on April 17, 2013:
Very good and very underated,Not a fan of Hendix as champion of anything. My taste runs to Knopplfer,Buchannon and Zappa as some of the best.Also Duane and Outlaws trio.so many incredible options,Larry Carlton, Mike Bloomfield,ect.Depends on what I am feeling at the moment.Pure live sound and not effects for me.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on March 04, 2013:
Very cool! What a thrill . . . getting the opportunity to see Seraphine in person. On The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, Buddy Rich said Seraphine was the best up and coming drummer he had ever heard. Most musicians rank Buddy Rich as the best drummer ever, so this was quite the compliment for Danny Seraphine to hear. Thanks for the comment, Joe.
Joe A. on March 03, 2013:
I'm a drummer and while I love Danny Seraphine's playing in the band, I've been nuts about Terry ever since I first learned about him. I got to ask a question in the Q and A of a Danny Seraphine clinic at the Chicago Drum Show and, naturally, I asked him about backing Terry. He said backing Terry was an immense challenge because he was reliant on Danny's tempo and generally Terry wanted to run away with it. Then he said Terry is somewhere smiling because I took the time to remember him. Greatest compliment EVER!
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 06, 2013:
Thanks for your comment. I meant no offense to any named guitarist; I was simply making comparisons between 2 of the best. Nancy Wilson is good - she's not great... .
The Basement Rug on February 06, 2013:
I agree that Terry Kath is too often overlooked, but why the hate-on for Nancy Wilson? She is an incredible musician. I think you are being a bit harsh. It's understandable why Kath and Hendrix got along so well - musically, their approach is similar, and neither of them read music.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on January 25, 2013:
I haven't read Rolling Stone for years now, and like you, I believe the rag has lost any and all credibility!
J, Conrad Guest on January 25, 2013:
You wrote "To this day, Rolling Stone ignores Terry Kath's talent; as does his band Chicago." This indeed makes it sound as if his band mates ignored his talent. I think what you meant to write is, "To this day, Rolling Stone ignores Terry Kath's talent; as well as his band Chicago."
I agree with the majority of the comments in this string, that Rolling Stone's glaring omission of Terry Kath from their list of greatest rock guitarists is a travesty. It betrays ignorance of the greatest magnitude, and eliminates Rolling Stone from relevance anything concerning rock and roll. I haven't read them for years.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on January 24, 2013:
AlanNaldrett on January 24, 2013:
I noticed right away they didn't list Mr. Kath. They also didn't list Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter from Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. Check out the beginning of Sweet Jane on Rock and Roll Animal.
Leaving Terry Kath off the list is the most unforgivable.
Their best singers list is much worse, if possible. They have BOB DYLAN as #6. I've heard a lot of good things about Dylan, but never have I seen anyone put him on a best vocalist list. Even worse, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed are ahead of Steve Perry and Patti LaBelle.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on December 14, 2012:
Terry was an amazing player . . . Chicago was NEVER the same following his death.
Joshua Arritt on December 14, 2012:
That was a great article. I am 35 and got into Kath about 5 years ago. Amazing guitarist and great voice. Best guitarist I know about personally.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on November 08, 2012:
ablack3719 on November 08, 2012:
Great article and on point. Anyone who wants a real education about real guitar should get "Chicago Presents the Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath". Absolute genius. Rolling Stone has to re-do this list if they want to remain relevant.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on September 19, 2012:
I don't recall writing Chicago didn't give Terry his due. I was referring to Rolling Stone not giving Chicago (as the entire group) their due.
Thanks for the comment.
ALongworth on September 19, 2012:
Don't forget the feud between Chicago producer Jimmy Guercio and Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner. Wenner is a vindictive little thing, it appears.
As for Chicago not giving him his due, I'll disagree. Robert Lamm says that as good as his lead guitar skills were, his rhythm guitar might have been even better. So there you have it, the total package. There will never be another terry Kath.
ALongworth on September 19, 2012:
Don't forget the feud between Chicago producer Jimmy Guercio and Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner. Wenner is a vindictive little thing, it appears.
As for Chicago not giving him his due, I'll disagree. Robert Lamm says that as good as his lead guitar skills, his rhythm guitar might have been even better. So there you have it, the total package. There will never be another terry Kath.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on September 05, 2012:
Well written, Pete T. ...
Pete T on September 05, 2012:
Terry was the real deal. He sang like Ray Charles and played like Jimi Hendrix. Kath could play circles around Page, Clapton and SRV. His solo playing is unmatched. A master of the wah wah pedal The guy played lead and rhythm with soul and style from the bottom of his boot straps. God rest his soul, Chicago never recovered. Jan at Rolling Stones hates Chicago because Lamm told him off! Ain't funny, RUSH, ELP, YES and MOODY BLUES are not in Hall but Madonna is! They should build a wing in the Hall just for Terry
Torbjörn Lundmark on August 20, 2012:
In my humble opinion the two best guitarists that have so far seen the light...
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on May 26, 2012:
At one time, I owned every album, cassette, download and CD Chicago ever produced. Following Terry's terrible accident, Chicago never recaptured the sound that made them household names; and Cetera's exit spelled 'The End' for these guys, in my opinion.
Also, thanks for the compliment concerning my writing style. Those words mean so much more when conveyed by a top-notch writer as yourself!
rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on May 26, 2012:
I forgot about that remark that Hendrix made! I used to own that album that this song is on. Chicago was such an incredible sound, I saw them live ages ago. Such a tragedy to lose his life in such a manner, and still so young. I like your writing style, very engaging.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on May 20, 2012:
Thank you, Kaili. His death occurred over 40 years ago, but he left such a legacy along with a missing piece wiith Chicago that was never found.
Kaili Bisson from Canada on May 20, 2012:
Wonderful article on Terry...thank you for sharing. Such a sad ending, as it seems is too often the case with great talents.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on April 17, 2012:
We're all very happy you were good enough to get rich. Take that money and get some spelling and grammar lessons.
thundercat18 on April 16, 2012:
I knew both Terry and Jimi very well, Terry was awesome no doubt, but ti say that Vernon Reid has/had no talent, is bullshit on the level of NO ONE knowing who EDDIE HAZEL of parliament fukadelic was, nor Shuggie Otis, you assholes who WEREN'T there nor only read the bullshit in Rolling Stone or.on TV with "That Metal Show" need to know that not all of the best guitar rippers were American nor white for that matter. Im listed as one of the top 50 greatest guitar players ever and I can tell you that as Great as Terry was, he wasn't as good as Duane nor Ernie Isley nor Stevie Ray, you motherfuckers are a trip. Later forever. Glad i got rich and left this game.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on March 23, 2012:
I guess it all boils down to style over substance... Meaning, Terry was a self-educated player who could "keep up" with the Master's-degreed Chicago ensemble. Hendrix on the other hand, wrote his own, unique material - a totally different wavelength and sound than what Chicago produced. They were both great in their own, unique styles! Great Post.
Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on March 23, 2012:
You're right about a couple things - Terry Kath was very good and he's essentially been forgotten by the world of rock. I've written about classic rock guitarists, and I had forgotten him too! (He accidentally shot himself in the head, didn't he?) Anyway, I'm not too surprised Hendrix said he was better, but that doesn't mean Kath was better. Hendrix also liked ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons as well. Hey, Hendrix, in spite of his great talent, was a very modest guy. Thanks for the memories. Later!
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 26, 2012:
Whoa! That is a HUGE compliment, and you are right - Terry will never be forgotten.
Joe Prest on February 26, 2012:
Terry was and is a monster guitar player. I know it and will always keep him in my heart. No magazine will make a difference on way or the other! I was playing with a classic rock band at Tuckermans in Mass. The owner was a former roadie from Chicago...he paid me the greatest compliment I could have ever had...He said I reminded him of Terry....wow. to this day I am still humbled by that compliment....Terry will never be forgotten...
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on February 07, 2012:
In my mind, Terry was the best.
Hector Rodriguez on February 07, 2012:
Terry Kath is the Guitar God
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on January 04, 2012:
GREAT, educated comments, Mike. Thank you.
MikeH on January 04, 2012:
Saw Terry many times live. He was an amazing incendiary player. Could improvise in a fingersnap. Extremely fast clean player early on. I think he got disillusioned as time went by and his playing suffered toward the end,His sound becoming highly flanged and wawa'd. the shame is there are almost no quality recordings of the band early on when he was a monster live talent. Shame on Jimmy Guercio for that. He made millions on these geniuses and so little remains. No matter. The minds eye is crystal clean after all these years. Rest in peace Terry.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on November 30, 2011:
I am finding that MANY more people knew Terry was the best than I ever could have imagined! thanks for your comment.
Mark Nicholas on November 30, 2011:
Thank you for this thoughtful piece. TK's ommission from such list has always dumbfounded me. The guy was brilliant! Skipped similarly to another relatively unheralded guitarist who's on my fav list: Lowell George.
Bob Pittman on November 26, 2011:
I look all these lists expressly to see my man Terry on them and as usual no love. I think his omission is in part due to the later efforts of Chicago which makes it easier to disregard just how good a player he was.
I defy anyone that digs great guitar, especially musicians, to not be moved by those solos you mentioned as well as others . 25or6 to4 was a tour de force now as it was then. That soulful white boys voice was icing on the cake. Thanks for the write up.
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on November 26, 2011:
Thanks, Joe... The gun tragedy was accidental. I've read 2 or 3 different accounts but they all agree on this: Terry was feeling no pain the day it happened. Though he was experienced in handling guns, his "extreme happy" mood due to alcohol and another substance, caused the accident. Seems, he did check the cylinder, but neglected to look at the loaded chamber. His friends were begging him to quit 'playing around' with the gun, but he laughed their concerns off, and soon thereafter, Terry Kath was gone. Very sad! Thanks for your comment.
joejagodensky from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 26, 2011:
Very interesting article. You developed it very well. (I hope the gun incident was an accident.)
James Ranka (author) from Port Neches on November 25, 2011:
jjexon on November 25, 2011: