Digital Playlist: Neal Schon

Who: Neal Schon, guitarist and founding member of Journey.
What: The top five artists rocking his iPod.
Where: On tour across America.
Latest Release: Journey’s Eclipse.

Neal Schon loves the blues.
And a little classical as well.
(Photo credit: Travis Shinn.)

1. STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN and ALBERT KING — “I’m always pumping that live studio session with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King. I’m always listening to the blues and older stuff. I rarely ever have any new stuff in.”

2. CLASSICAL MASTERS — “My wife gave me an iPod, and it had something like 8,000 songs on it. Everybody under the sun is in there — people I’ve never heard of before. I listen to a lot of jazz. Sometimes when I’m driving in the car in the morning I listen to classical symphonic music — Beethoven, Mozart, Bach. I just like listening to classical music. Full-on symphonies. I love listening to it in the morning and get a lot of melodic ideas from it. It’s so melodic and there’s so much information there. I’ve heard the little train thing in my [opening] solo for ‘Don’t Stop Believin” so many times in a symphony. It’s probably where I got it from originally and didn’t even know it.”

3. THE WHO — “I love The Who, I love [Pete] Townshend; his songwriting and his chords. He’s such a strong rhythm player and songwriter. It’s just bold. The whole band was always just bold, the way they all fit together chemistry-wise with John Entwistle playing a lot of lead bass and the loose abandon of Keith Moon. Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, sounds amazing playing with them now.”

4. JEFF BECK — “I love all his stuff. I love the record Truth and all the stuff after that [like] Beck-Ola. Jeff keeps going from one thing to another. He doesn’t stand still, and I appreciate that about him. I respect him for that. I knew all about Jeff Beck and was listening to him years back before he went into all instrumental music, and by that time I was listening to a lot of instrumental music and a lot of Mahavishnu Orchestra. And in Mahavishnu Orchestra we both discovered Jan Hammer. Journey actually opened up for Jeff Beck and Jan Hammer when we were more of a jam band, and Jeff and I were snagging a lot of our cool stuff from the same guy — it was Jan. It’s all out there to nab, and he happened to be the guy at the time for both of us. So we hung for a bit and talked, and we’ve known each other for years. Now I hear similarities in all the records that come out. The Voice record I did years back got nominated for a Grammy. I did a couple of opera songs. With this latest record that Beck does he wins all these Grammys, and he is playing opera music. [laughs] So I know he’s listening too.”

5. LED ZEPPELIN — “Jimmy Page and I have become pretty good friends. What a great guy, and what a great visionary. I love the fact that he always has this vision. We spoke about it, and he sees it before he digs in and makes it happen. It’s all great, but the very first [Zeppelin] record always kicked my ass. It was just so spontaneous and electric. I hear where a lot of it came from too, and they were touring with Janis Joplin back in those days. If you listen to early Janis Joplin, you’re going to hear a lot of Plant. They definitely snagged a few things here and there, even from Janis’ band, but they did it in their own way. Everything that was coming out of England at that time was all from Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf or Albert King, mainly older guys. A lot of Muddy, whether it was the Stones or whoever. The English were really just into the deep blues and putting more of an electric force in it. It turned into electric guitar blues.”

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