Legendary Rolling Stones guitar player Keith Richards is, by Mike's own admission, his greatest influence. Anyone who has ever seen Pearl Jam live, has probably heard an Angie
or Sympathy for the Devil
riff thrown in by Mike.
Keith's playing has influenced Mike's blues heavy leads and busy rhythms, and in Mike's own words… pulled him through.
Jimi Hendrix is perhaps Mike's most obvious influence. 'Yellow Ledbetter' is Mike's rendition of the classic Hendrix tune 'Little Wing.' Mike's leads are covered with Jimi's influence.
For christ sake Mike's got a left handed strat that he strings upside down!
Ace Frehley"I worship Kiss. They're the whole reason I started playing guitar."
Well that pretty much says it. Mike grew up listening to 70's stadium rock, and Kiss was one of his favorite bands. He has stated that his Alive solo is his rendition of Ace's solo from 'She'.
Angus Young"The (Satan's Bed) solo is definitely my tribute to Angus Young; I was trying to do my Angus thing."
As a teenager Mike would sit for hours copying every lick from the early Kiss and AC/DC albums.
Jimmy PageYa ever heard 'Given To Fly'?… ya ever heard 'Going To California'?
Jimmy Page is without a doubt another big influence. Stone might be a bigger Zeppelin fan, but the style is also present in a lot of Mike's work. Mike also owns a double neck SG, a la Jimmy Page.
Stevie Ray Vaughan"That's me [in Even Flow] pretending to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a feeble attempt at that."
What else is there to say… when Stone was searching for people for his new band he bumped into Mike at a party. He was jamming over an SRV album and Stone invited him to jam… the rest is history.
Eric Clapton is one of Mike's later influences. I think anyone who has ever picked up a guitar has a great amount of respect for Eric Clapton.
A lot of Mike's blues playing can be related back to SRV and Eric Clapton. Clapton-style licks are frequent in many of his solo's, and hey, they've both been known to play a strat through a marshall.
Randy Rhoads"I was always into Sabbath and Ozzy, so when Randy Rhoads came out, it was like 'wow, that's what lead is all about.'".
People have said to me that Mike's playing reminds them of Randy Rhoads. Well they're right, a lot of Mike's solo's are reminiscent of Randy Rhoads style leads. listen to 'Ten' for the Randy Rhoads licks, there are plenty!
Neil Young"I'd never felt, for lack of a better word, as high as when I'd look over and see Neil playing lead on 'Down by the River.'"
I can't believe I missed this one the first time around. Pick up 'Mirrorball' to listen to Mike and Neil trading off leads, it's brilliant. Check out 'Song X' and 'Throw Your Hatred Down', the intro lick on that one knock me on my ass every time.
Muddy Waters"Muddy definitely changed the way I play"
Muddy Waters is one of blues most influential sources. He followed in Robert Johnson's footsteps, pushing blues music to new levels. If you play guitar and haven't heard any Muddy Waters, I think you should go out right now and pick some of his albums up. He will change the way you look at guitar.
Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter
Armed with nothing but an old beat up acoustic 12-string and a soulful voice, 'Lead Belly' will knock you on your ass.
'Lead Belly' has influenced everyone who has ever dared to call themselves a blues player. Pick up one of his cd's and hear for yourself since most of his stuff has recently been re-released.
Blind Lemon JeffersonBlind Lemon Jefferson perhaps more than anyone helped define and create modern blues guitar. He was the first blues artist to enjoy commercial success. His style included a heavy use of single string arpeggios and bass runs on the lower strings. Mike credits him helping to expand his style and playing in recent years.
Mississippi John Hurt"He rules. That music is so peaceful and beautiful and soulful, you could just walk out into a field and say, 'Ok I can die now'
Mississippi John Hurt combined folk and blues to form some of the most beautiful music ever made. His finger-picked folk/blues gained great popularity in the early sixties, just before his death in 1966.
Mike's admiration for B.B. King is well documented. There is not a blues musician alive who has not been influenced in some way by soulful blues stylings of Mr. King.
If you happen to be attending Pearl Jam show anytime soon check out the photo taped to Mike's marshall. You'll recognize the man in the photo as none other then B.B. King himself.
Howlin Wolf (Arthur Bennett)
When Mike was asked if he could see anyone live who would it be, he responded, "Definitely Howlin Wolf… cause he's like 300 pounds, and he'd climb a curtain, with a harmonica and a mic in his mouth… and he'd come back down, I'd be very content, that's for sure. "
When you see Mike running laps around the stage and jumping in the air or knocking over his amp, that's his Howlin Wolf comin' out. Howlin Wolf, like Mike, was a true showman.