Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett has spoken about utilizing the famous tapping technique, which is believed to be invented by the late guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, in his playing as early as 1971.
During his recent chat with Mitch Lafon on Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon, the lead guitarist of the progressive rock band Genesis, Steve Hackett, has had the last word about finger tapping, unveiling the story behind it, Hackett’s being the innovator of the technique.
Hackett reminisced about the day he found the technique. He remembered that one day, he was sitting down on the bed, plugged into a little amp, and wanted to play a triplet figure. Yet, he said that he couldn’t play it fast enough on two strings or three and he decided to play it on one by hammering on and off.
Suddenly, he thought that if he could master this, it’s got other possibilities and started to use it with live solos on the 1971 Genesis track ‘The Musical Box.’ Hackett said, as he started using tapping on the guitar, Tony Banks would do a harmony to him.
Here’s what Steve Hackett said about the tapping technique:
“Well, I was living at home with my parents at the time. My first marriage had just failed and I was back home with the folks.
One day, I was just sitting down on the bed, plugged into a little amp and I wanted to play a triplet figure and I couldn’t play it fast enough on two strings or three and I decided to play it on one by hammering on and off.
And I thought, ‘Oh – if I could master this, it’s got other possibilities.’ And I started to use it with live solos on ‘The Musical Box,’ for instance.
And as I started to use tapping on the guitar, Tony Banks would sometimes do a harmony to me, so we’d have a guitarist who was sounding like a keyboard player and a keyboard player who was trying to sound like a guitarist, and that created a kind of show.
It’s funny, there was one solo I did on ‘Selling England By the Pound’ – in ’73 when John Lennon said Genesis was one of the bands he was listening to, which is my proudest moment in rock and roll – the very first track on that was ‘Dancing With the Moonlit Knight,’ and on the guitar solo it’s got tapping, sweep picking, it’s got octave jumps.”
“And in a way, it’s a kind of prototype for shredders. I think if every solo I’d ever done was like that, it would become very boring very, very quickly because you can only take a certain amount of speed, I think it’s important to have different dynamics and different speeds.
Don’t forget that The Beatles – Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison were coming up with songs that were not technique-driven.
The expertise was all in the little vignettes that became wonderful songs about flashpoints in people’s lives, whether it was young love or the end of a woman’s life in practically two and a half minutes you’ve got ‘Eleanor Rigby‘ or ‘She’s Leaving Home’ or ‘I’m the Walrus.’
I mean, just incredible stuff, and these are pop songs, and yet somehow it’s brought in from classical minutes, it’s brought in from show tunes, it’s brought in from folk music; it’s extraordinarily eclectic and the most commercial music.”
You can check out the rest of the conversation and the audio video of ‘The Musical Box’ below.