PERFORMING ARTS

Immortal Axes: Guitars That Rock

Princeton Architectural. Sept. 2021. 388p. ISBN 9781648960239. $60. MUSIC
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In this sequel to 108 Rock Star Guitars, photographer Johnson examines 160 guitars (mostly electric) belonging to legendary musicians in a variety of genres: rock (David Gilmour, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Peter Frampton); country (Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Merle Haggard); blues (B. B. King, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy); and jazz (Charlie Christian, George Benson). She often spotlights guitars that belonged to several members of a single band (Iron Maiden, the Bangles, the Who, Nirvana, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead). She also features the instruments of such guitar gods as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Les Paul, and Jeff Beck. For each lavishly and lovingly photographed axe (vintage and newer models), she lists the make, model number, and sometimes the luthier; includes a story about photographing the instrument; and discusses the importance of the guitar and its player in rock history.
VERDICT Rock’s popularity has lately been eclipsed by rap and electronic dance music, but Johnson enthusiastically reminds readers about the dominance of raging, explosive electric guitars and the fiery guitarists who helped define music during the last half of the 20th century.
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