By Damian Fanelli
Sometimes, my mind randomly flashes back to 2009. After all, that was a really good “hair year” for me.
But it’s also the year rock fans got to see a particularly extraordinary assemblage of iconic musicians on one stage. I’m talking about that special night in early April when Metallica, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry, Ronnie Wood, Flea and former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted performed “Train Kept A-Rollin'” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Metallica and Beck were among the evening’s honorees. (Is it just me, or is it slightly jarring to see James Hetfield and Jeff Beck together on the same stage?)
Regardless, the song, which was written by Tiny Bradshaw and Lois Mann, plays a bit part in the history of three of the guitarists:
• Jeff Beck recorded it with the Yardbirds in 1965.
• Jimmy Page inherited it when he joined the Yardbirds in 1966.
• Page and Beck can be seen performing the song (retitled “Stroll On” for some reason) with the Yardbirds in the 1966 film Blowup (bottom video). Beck even smashes his guitar (and beats up his Vox amp) in the film!
• Joe Perry’s band, Aerosmith, covered it in 1974. Even though the guitar solos on the studio version were played by Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, Perry has performed it live with Aerosmith countless times.
By the way, if you’re not familiar with the kick-ass 1956 version of the tune by Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio, you might want to check it out. They added a three-note, minor-key repeating guitar line to the song, a line that features some early distorted guitar. Lots o’ people, myself included, insist that Grady Martin played the distorted guitar on the Burnette version (and not Paul Burlison).
Anyway, enjoy this trip down memory lane to 2009, that great “hair year” of mine!
P.S.: Keep watching the top video for a heavily edited performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” by Page and Beck, followed by some less-interesting stuff.
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes GuitarWorld.com’s The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy’s Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.