classic Blue Cheer
photo by Herb Greene
Leigh Stephens rose to fame as co-founder and lead guitarist of the psychedelic rock band Blue Cheer. He has also been called one of “The Top 100 Guitarist of All Time” by Rolling Stone. Aside from working as a musician he also works as a producer, illustrator, photographer, special effects, and is a senior digital media artist.
Maximum Ink: Who were some of the artists who have influenced your playing style?
Leigh Stephens: The early surf guys Dick Dale, The Ventures, Duane Eddy. Then Jeff Beck of course And Clapton as well as Hendrix.
MI: When did you first know you wanted to be a musician? Why do you love music as much as you do?
LS: I was an artist first. Then came music. Music is instant gratification. You can hear it now and if it works you know it right away.
MI: Is it an honor to make the “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time” list from Rolling Stone?
LS: Of course it is. I mean it’s “of all time”. I wonder if that includes the future.
MI: You also work in Illustration, photography, special effects, and as a senior digital media artist. What inspired you to pursue those outlets?
LS: Working in special effects was fun because it was always another creature or weapon or whatever that you were working on. I was lucky. I got work on some really good shows.
MI: Of all the different outlets you have which do you prefer to work in most?
LS: Audio is best for me. I have just had my ears cleaned.
MI: What is the most helpful advice you ever received from other musicians in regards to the industry?
LS: The best advice I have ever had regarding any artistic endeavor is to not go into it with the express intent to make money. Do it because you love what it is. Otherwise you will fail.
MI: What genres of music do you claim as your favorites?
LS: I have favorites in all genres
MI: How do think the industry has changed most over the years?
LS: I think the music industry is just that now. An industry. Might as well be pumping oil into the gulf of Mexico. It’s not about the music anymore. It’s about the package, whatever they think they can sell to the masses. Never mind quality. The Beatles would not have made it today in this business.
MI: Anything you’d like to say to your fans in closing?
LS: Yes I would. I have a new project coming out in June. Tracey Adamis, “Sometimes Life Is Fair”. I produced, arranged and engineered this CD. As well as played all the bass and guitar. She is really a great songwriter and singer. Please give her a listen. It’s worth it. I will post a release date on my Facebook and Myspace sites when it’s available.
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CD: Ride The Thunder • Purchase Ride The Thunder on Amazon