I became a fan of Jon Sykes and his guitar playing after hearing the Whitesnake self-titled album released in 1987.
The album was very different to what I was used to. It was a very heavy rock album, very different to what Jovi, Def Leppard, Europe, Crue, Kiss and eventually GNR were putting out.
His lead breaks used a lot of different guitar techniques from fast picked lines, to bluesy bends, to hammer on and pull offs, to legato and tapping lines and it all sounded so melodic and precise.
And those riffs in songs like “Bad Boys”, “Give Me All Your Love”, “Children Of The Night” and “Still Of The Night” sounded gigantic.
I also didn’t know what a good riff meister David Coverdale is, so I presumed that all the guitar riffs came from John Sykes.
And if you are interested in the riffs that Coverdale wrote then, “Crying In The Rain” is all Coverdale. In “Still Of The Night”, the opening F#m power chord is Coverdale along with the section when Coverdale sings, “oh, baby, oh mama”. The riff in “Straight Through The Heart” is Coverdale, which he wrote on a keyboard.
Based on this initiation into the playing of John Sykes I started to look for other recordings of his and came across Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy and since 1988 I have followed his career and releases in Blue Murder and his solo projects.
I remember clearly when I was flicking through the vinyl of a second hand record store and came across “Spellbound” from Tygers Of Pan Tang. I didn’t know it was this album that Sykes played on, all I knew was that he was in the band. So of course, I turned to the back cover and there he was in the picture.
It was a buy. And to hear the song “Mirror” which the young John Sykes co-wrote was a perfect peak into the creative mindset of an evolving artist.
Because his next big co-write was “Cold Sweat” with Thin Lizzy and man what an iconic riff to kick off the song.
And that first Blue Murder album is unbelievable musically. Plus it showed the world what a good singer Sykes is. But then it was years between the next album and then he went solo, releasing only in the Japanese market, which made the albums expensive in Australia as imports.
Then Napster came and people who had the solo albums shared em, which I loved and eventually I got around to owning them. And that first John Sykes album released in 1995, is excellent. It’s such a shame that it was released in a limited market and that his audience wouldn’t have known it was even out.
But that period from 1983 to 1995 is what I enjoyed the most and his music during this period was so influential to me.