Written By Jason Voorhees
As I sit here writing this piece, this all seems so surreal.
You don't have to be a fan of heavy metal music to know who Metallica is. One would not have to be a fashion enthusiast to recognize the name, Versace. And the same goes for Kobe Bryant...even a person that despises basketball would know the name KOBE.
I am not a huge basketball fan, nor am I knowledgeable about the sport in general. The extent of my understanding of the game comes only as an occasional viewer of the local Philadelphia 76ers. However, if there ever were any basketball player that I truly respected and idolized, it would be Kobe Bryant.
The "Black Mamba," as he has become to be known, is a legend. Kobe was not just some local star. He was not only a national superstar. Kobe was an international icon. He was more than a man. Bryant was an elite superstar that became more than human. Life after basketball for this man was all about family and him becoming an ambassador for millions of people around the world.
When I first heard the tragic news of Kobe and his daughter Gigi's death yesterday, I was in total shock. My first reaction was that this couldn't be real and that it was just fake news. Unfortunately, as I continued to refresh Twitter, I realized that the report was, in fact, correct and that Kobe had died.
This is a tragedy of epic proportions. 9 Lives lost. Countless souls affected. Families were torn apart, and their worlds ripped upside down. First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to ALL of the families, friends, fans, and followers that have been affected by this terrible accident. This is a somber day, and I know many will be mourning for a long time to come.
As we all try to make sense of this tragedy, one thing that has quickly become apparent is the number of lives that Kobe touched during his 41 years of life. The outpouring of tributes has spanned all walks of life. And this is the theme I am choosing to portray as I try to pay my special tribute to Mr. Bryant and his Mamba Mentality.
In my opinion, Kobe Bryant is a Top 5 player of all-time in basketball history. Kobe has achieved the following awards and accomplishments: 4th all-time in regular-season scoring. 18x all-star. 15x member of All-NBA team. 5x NBA Champion. 2x Scoring Champion. 2x NBA Finals MVP. 4x NBA All-Star Game MVP. He holds countless NBA and Los Angeles Lakers records, among other achievements. That, my friends, is Kobe Bryant, the basketball player.
But Kobe Bryant, the person, was so much more than a man. He was one of the most beloved people on and off the court. When I think of Kobe Bryant, "the person," the following adjectives come to mind...
Self Driven, Motivated, Passionate, Competitive, Fearless, Compassionate, Tenacious, Humble, Confident, Relentless.
Those are some severe attributes, and Kobe was elite through all of them. Kobe is a guy that transcended the game. Bryant was an exceptional human being that inspired countless others from all walks of life. Kobe Bryant was much bigger than an athlete. He was almost Super Human.
These are the characteristics I choose to remember as I pay tribute to Kobe.
One thing that these types of tragedies bring light to is just how fleeting life is.
And as we pay tribute and mourn all of the lost lives yesterday, we all need to face the fact that we are all mortal. Life is not promised. And as we come to this realization, we can all take a page out of Kobe's resume as a role model of how to live our lives.
Live life to its fullest and embrace every challenge like it's your last. Face every obstacle as a fierce competitor and take things head-on. Treat others with respect. Tell your family members that you love them. Be an ambassador for doing the right things.
Embrace the Mamba Mentality. Kobe Bryant was More than a Man. Kobe Bryant was legendary.
To pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, maybe we all could try to model ourselves like him, and in doing so, his death will not be in vain. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and this tragedy can now have more meaning. Just embrace Kobe Bryant and what he stood for, and maybe we will all find peace. Kobe Bryant, your legacy will live forever, and we will always remember you and your family. Thanks for all of the memories and the lives you touched! Rest Easy, Kobe.
#RIP #MAMBA #KOBE #GIGI
The undertaking of any all-time greatest list is never easy.
When it comes to music, the task can be even more difficult. So the question remains...how do you chose the best guitarists of all-time when there are so many styles and techniques to choose from?
Some guitarists are technically brilliant. Others may be less skilled in the technical aspects but more of a "feel and attitude" type player. Then, the freestyle "wow factor" players have to lead to the "legendary" status they invoke today. No matter which category these guitarists find themselves in, they all share one thing in common, and that's the way they command themselves on the stage and the way they operate the ax.
I have composed many lists in my day, and this will undoubtedly be one of my most challenging tasks to date. However, I am confident in navigating the landscape and narrowing it down to the highest upper echelon elite group. To do so, I will combine rankings based on a myriad of polls and expert opinions. I will then use my musical research to make the orders and populate the list.
As with any list, this is a matter of opinion, and I am sure there will be many who disagree along the way...and indeed that's ok. I love these types of disagreements because it sparks some excellent conversation. With that being said, here are a few guitarists that I love but unfortunately just missed the cut...
I know you are all waiting to see which players cut...so without further ado...Ladies and Gentlemen, here are the Top 25 Guitarists of All-Time...
24) Mark Knopfler
Knopfler is the lead guitarist and co-founder of the band Dire Straits. He is a fingerstyle guitarist that can bring it on all levels. He may not have the name notoriety of many other greats, but what he lacks in the name he makes up for on the stage—a terrific songwriter with underrated talent.
23) Duane Allman
An American session guitarist and the founder of the band The Allman Brothers. Known as the "Skydog," Duane was one of the most formidable working guitarists in the biz. He is most known for his expressive slide technique and his use of improvisation. The world will never know his true potential as he tragically died at the age of 24.
22) Neil Young
Young was a Canadian born musician known for his talents on multiple instruments. However, most of his fame came on the ax as he fronted numerous bands, most notably Buffalo Springfield and Crazy Horse. His work with the latter led to his nickname "The Godfather of Grunge," as he has been attributed to the beginnings of this important genre of music. Neil is known for his wide range of styles, which combines folk, rock, and country with rapid use of distortion.
21) Alex Lifeson
One of the co-founders of the band Rush, Lifeson is known for his well-rounded approach to guitar. His agility and versatility have been praised by many artists alike. He is an active member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has won the Best Rock Guitarist award twice in his lifetime. James Hetfield and John Petrucci have both cited Lifeson as significant influences on their careers. Underrated and a stone-cold lock for this list.
20) Angus Young
Co-Founder and Lead Guitarist of the Australian rock band AC/DC. The second "Young " to make this list. Angus is a tremendous guitar player that brings an added level to the stage that is rarely matched. He is well known for wild onstage antics that have helped cement his legacy among the greats. Many people have criticized his often simple chord progressions while failing to recognize his unending repertoire of arpeggios. No matter what difference of opinion may arise about Young's talent, there is no underselling of his place with the greatest of all-time.
19) Pete Townshend
Another dual musician threat, Pete was the leader and co-founder of The Who. Townshend thrived at his craft despite never having any formal training. He is well known for his aggressive playing style and has received critical acclaim for his innovative songwriting techniques. Another member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the first great riff writers of our day.
An American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. His resume speaks for itself. He is regarded as one of the most excellent musicians in the history of music. What gets sometimes lost, though, is how great of a guitarist he was. It was on the ax where he made his most magic. He has won awards galore for his achievements both on and off the stage. His album Purple Rain remains his most extraordinary effort of all-time as it stayed atop the Billboard 200 for 24 consecutive weeks. A true legend in music and a Guitar God for sure.
17) Dimebag Darrell
Darrell Abbott, best known as "Dimebag Darrell" was a co-founder for the band Pantera. His work on the guitar was absolutely breathtaking. No doubt one of the most influential guitarists of the past 25 years, this legend was tragically taken away gone too soon. Dimebag fused a blues style with traditional metal to forge the groove metal style that would eventually become its own musical genre of metal. He is also known for his heavy use of the major third in his riffs and leads. Another disciple of Eddie Van Halen.
16) Steve Vai
Vai is a three-time Grammy Award winner and fifteen-time nominee; who has stood the test of time and produced at an epic level. A Frank Zappa and Joe Satriani pupil has gone on to forge his legacy of guitar excellence. He is known for his attention to detail and has maintained a rigorous practice schedule that sometimes would transcend fifteen hours. He blends many styles and has set the bar high. This guy can shred and will knock your socks off.
15) Tony Iommi
Tony had overcome many obstacles during his career, beginning with a right-hand injury before he even started playing. Most people would have folded but not Tony. Known mostly for his work with Black Sabbath, Tony can be attributed to much of the metal we hear today. He perfected the power chord while combining blues-style solos with dark and minor melodic riffs. He was also one of the early pioneers of treble boosting effects pedals, and his sound is well pronounced. No list will ever be complete without Tony...a wrap.
14) Randy Rhoads
Another guitar great gone way too soon. Randy was a devout student of classical guitar, which he combined with metal to form his distinct style. Rhoads was an extraordinarily technical player and maintained rigid precision throughout all of his solos. He began his career with the band Quiet Riot but made most of his fame as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne during his prime solo act. His use of classical guitar became his signature style, and his riffs can be recognized a mile away because of this. There is no telling how great he would have been; had he not died so young, but his talent was limitless—one of my favs of all-time.
13) Brian May
Brian is the lead guitarist and co-founder of the rock band Queen. He is responsible for writing most of the band's hits and was instrumental in the group's rise to the top in music. Referred to by many as a virtuoso of guitar, his style included many classical and pop-driven leads. Although he sometimes does not get the credit, Brian deserves so much more. He had a unique sound that was unable to be replicated, which puts him on another level. He is responsible for some of the most iconic solos, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Brighton Rock," both of which belong on the Top 50 all-time.
12) Ritchie Blackmore
Blackmore dove onto the scene with Deep Purple and continued his excellence with Rainbow. He was one of the earliest guitarists to use the classical guitar style, and he used that style to mold his distinct sound and tone. Ritchie focused on composing tight and on point solos for every song he wrote, a prolific riff writer. Blackmore was also big on Vibrato, which he took to another level. Very underrated artist and sometimes forgotten as one of the greats...but not by me.
11) Chuck Berry
Known as the "Father of Rock and Roll," Berry is entirely responsible for the world of music that we know today. Rock and Roll's pioneer set the tone for all of the great guitarists that we have grown to admire. He was one of the first guitarists to use a "solo" as a way of expression. He has appeared anywhere from fifth to twenty-fifth on most all-time lists. An inspiration and one of the early groundwork layers of rock music culture. Also responsible for the redefinition of Rhythm and Blues, an essential element of rock music in general.
10) Keith Richards
Richards is the lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, one of the most iconic bands of all-time. Richards has shown the propensity to stand the test of time, and he has refined his skills throughout the past decades. One of the true stalwarts of both rhythm and lead guitar, he thrives no matter what position he finds himself in. Although he shared most of the band's songwriting credits, Keith was the driving force in most of the band's successes. Most guitar players today cite Richards as being a significant influence on their craft.
9) Jeff Beck
Many guitar experts put Beck on the same level as Clapton, Paige, and Hendrix regarding innovation and sound. That's some serious company which is well deserved and rightfully stated. Beck came from the same tree as two of those stalwarts when he played with The Yardbirds. Jeff recorded two hit albums during his solo career, but most of his greats have come playing for other artists. He was one of the pioneers of the "lead" guitarist and put his stamp on every project he ever worked on. Beck may not have the name pedigree but has the talent, and that's precisely why he makes the top ten.
8) Stevie Ray Vaughn
Vaughn was an American singer and songwriter and was responsible for reviving blues guitar during the eighties. His main influences were Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, and Buddy Guy, among others. Vaughn was big into tremolo and vibrato as well as sweep picking. You would classify Stevie Ray as a "feels style" player as it all came from the heart. His playing transcended many genres as far as style and attitude. When you listened to this guy play, you were in for a treat at any given moment. He was a guitar hero of the present if we ever did have one and yet another gone way too soon.
7) B.B. King
The grandfather of the string bend, King, developed an intricate style of soloing that would go on to influence future generations of blues guitar. King was another player that was maybe not as technically sound, but he made up for improvisation. He further cemented his legacy by combining rhythm and blues with jazz to form his unique sound. He was a master of live performances during his career, sometimes averaging over 300 appearances per year, definitely ahead of his time, and a true master of ax dominance.
6) David Gilmour
Gilmour made his legacy playing for the band Pink Floyd. David is an excellent guitarist who combines precision, skill, and technique to balance raw emotion and feel. The result is an all-out masterpiece of sound and energy. Gilmour is responsible for many iconic solos, and his lead play is of elite status. Whether its long sustaining melodic tones or dark eloquent riffs, his sound always seems to break the barriers. One of the true legends of the craft and well-deserving of all-time great prowess.
Few guitarists have made as much of an impact on music as Slash. Known mostly for his work as the lead guitarist for Guns N Roses, Slash has carved out quite a solo career as well. He has also appeared as a guest for many music's most outstanding performers, including Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, and Ozzy Osbourne. An absolute beast of his craft, Slash is known for his epic solos and arpeggio laden leads. His style is often bold and to the point, and not many can maintain his playing's attitude or feel. Quite honestly, he could belong in the top three, but number five is not too shabby.
4) Eric Clapton
Often referred to as one of the most influential guitarists of all-time and revered by pundits everywhere as a guitar legend. Beginning with the Yardbirds, Clapton set sail on one of the most incredible journeys a guitarist could ever travel. He made his fame with the band Cream, where he produced most of his hit songs. Clapton is another "feel" inspired musician; however, his skill and technique were also elite. He is also known as one of the most formidable working guitarists as far as practice goes, and that practice made for the perfect sound. He is a three-time member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. A Rock God on earth.
3) Jimmy Page
Lead guitarist and founder of Led Zeppelin, Page is another of the most influential musicians of all-time. Probably the best pure riff writer of the generation as well as a musical genius. Just about every guitarist today will credit Page for some of their influence. He has transcended every genre of metal and would easily blend in with any of the bands today. Page was a master of the lead element and has fathered countless guitar greats today regarding style and technique. The Page is in a league of his own leaving most others in the dust.
2) Eddie Van Halen
Although he is not credited for inventing the "tapping technique," he indeed did perfect the style. He never fully learned how to read music, but the audience could never tell. Van Halen is a Rock God that leaves listeners in awe. His style is epic, and his energy is relentless. Eddie was a prodigy and one of the great innovators of the guitar world we know today. To put it simply...There would be no Synyster Gates without Eddie. There would be no Kirk Hammett without Van Halen. He is playing varsity while everyone is trying to learn jayvee—the crème de la crème. Only one guitarist can ever come close to this level, and that's a fact.
1) Jimi Hendrix
Hands down the greatest of all-time. He is the grandfather of the metal guitar as we know it today. He was one of the pioneers of using high gain and volume while infusing widespread distortion through amplifiers. Most of the guitar sounds we hear can be attributed to this musical inventor—A master of innovation and a true guitar hero. Jimi is the king of the ax, and we are all his pawns. Jimi could speak through the guitar. The strings had their vocabulary, and the sounds would resonate as he played—Guitar hero number one, folks.
Written by Jason Voorhees
The story of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles has yet to be completely written.
How will this story transpire? When will this story end? Will this team raise the Lombardi once again?
This Sunday, we may get a piece of those answers as the Eagles face the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
On Friday morning during an airing of Good Morning Football, Kyle Brandt produced another epic episode of the show when he compared the Eagles to the "Wolf of Wall Street." Brandt of course became famous in Philadelphia in 2017 during the Eagles Super Bowl run as he adopted them as his team of choice.
The Eagles are no stranger to being the underdog. In fact, over the past three seasons the team has continually battled the odds despite achieving consistent success, ultimately winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2017. There is something that can be said about this team that when the chips are down and everything is on the line, that they play their best football.
Since 2017, the Eagles have a 20-9 record (including playoffs) from the month of November on. After the Super Bowl win in 2017, the team won a road playoff game in 2018 before ultimately losing to the Saints in the Divisional Round.
This season, after a terrible loss to Miami the first week of December, the team went 4-0 down the stretch to secure its first Divisional title since 2017. This team is battle tested. This team is hungry. Hungry dogs run faster.
And now the team is being compared to wolves. What do wolves do best? They smell blood. I think Mr. Brandt is on to something here. Everyone else is counting this team out and that's exactly why the Eagles are dangerous. The 2017 version used the underdog mentality to its advantage. They rode that narrative all the way to Minnesota.
The 2018 version used the same mentality taking the much favored Saints down to the wire in NOLA before the untimely loss.
And now we have the 2019 group. Injuries have once again ravaged this team. In fact, no one would have been surprised if the Eagles did not make the playoffs. Yet here we are, two days from hosting a home playoff game on Sunday.
Some people would label this group "The Replacements." That would be a highly accurate nick name as the team is playing with many players that have come from the practice squad heap. Wide Receivers Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, and Rob Davis. Tight End Richard Rodgers and Josh Perkins.
As mentioned, many pundits and analysts are counting this team out and mostly because of the current state of this roster. And really, on paper the Eagles should really not have any business being in this position. But don't tell anyone on this team that.
This is a team that believes in its leader. Carson Wentz proved a lot of his haters and doubters wrong down the stretch and that in itself is a true testament to why this team has a legitimate shot to go far here. The sky is the limit folks. The chips are down once again and the wolves are on the prowl.
Doug Pederson is the leader of the pack. He will have this team ready no doubt. Doug smells blood.
Carson is the teams general. Wentz will provide the energy and the wherewithal to drive this machine forward. Carson can see the promised land.
The remainder of the pack is primed to follow. They are loyal and will die for their leaders. The players are programmed to do whatever it takes. The prey has been spotted in the distance. The Seahawks have been circled.
Wolves are territorial by nature and this Eagles team is no different. While the team has had some success on the road, they definitely play their best football at home.
No unit has been more effected by this notion than the defense.
In fact, since 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles defense has allowed the fewest points per game at home in the NFL and this includes the playoffs. The last time these two teams met, the Eagles held the Seahawks to 17 points. Defense wins Championships and the defense will once again have to bring its "A" game.
This brings me to my keys of the game:
Prediction: Eagles- 24 Seahawks-17
The story is not finished yet. Pieces of the puzzle are starting to get put together. Sunday's outcome will tell us a lot of what we do not yet know about this team...but there is one thing that I already do know...
The wolves of Broad Street are ready to pounce. Everyone is counting them out. We have been here before. The scenario is familiar. The stage is set. I am definitely feeling good about this teams chances. The sky is the limit folks. If the Eagles win Sunday they will get a healthy Desean Jackson back for Round 2 and anything can happen from there.
Hungry dogs run like the wind; while intelligent wolves definitely run faster and are trained for the kill. This team has that killer instinct when they smell blood. NFL beware...The EAGLES have finally landed! #FlyEaglesFly
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.