Being that it’s “Guitar Month,” it’s easy to get distracted by all of the Guitar Gods in the world of rock and roll, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t pay tribute to music’s great sidemen.
From session workers to touring guitarists, rock and roll wouldn’t be the same without these supremely talented musicians. Fortunately, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came to their senses in 2000 and created a special sideman category (now renamed the “Award for Musical Excellence”) to recognize the legendary hired guns. Among the guitarists honored in this category are Chet Atkins, James Burton, James Jamerson and Scotty Moore.
Filmmakers have also recognized that these musicians have a story to tell, and recently two fantastic documentaries have been released to pay tribute to sidemen. The first is Sidemen: Long Road To Glory, which looks at three incredible session musicians, including guitarist Hubert Sumlin, that played with Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters; the second is Hired Gun, which focuses mostly on modern rock and pop sidemen like guitarists John 5, Jason Hook, Justin Derrico, Rudy Sarzo, Phil X and Jay Graydon.
Trailers for both of these films can be viewed below!
Sidemen – Trailer
Sidemen - Long Road to Glory provides an intimate look into the incredible lives of three of the last Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf sidemen, piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin. These legendary bluesmen, who performed and recorded into their 80's and 90's, played a significant role in shaping modern popular music.
Hired Gun – Trailer
We've all heard them perform at concerts and on countless recordings. Millions have watched and listened to them play the music of the famous stars who hire them. They are the "First Call, A-list" musicians, the go-to players standing in the shadows of our favorite stars on stage and backing them up in the studio.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter. The first man she ever loved was Jack Daniel. (True story.)