5 Left-handed Musicians that Changed Music Forever
Left-handed people often get the short end of the stick. According to scientists, they’re at a higher risk for psychosis, dyslexia, ADHD, PTSD, and a whole host of other problems. But when it comes to art and music, studies have repeatedly shown that southpaws come out on top (they also make brutal boxing opponents). It should come as no surprise, then, that there’s a whole host of famous left-handed musicians. Here are five left-handed musicians that changed music forever (in no particular order).
Paul McCartney Does Paul McCartney really need an introduction? This singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and genius composer gained worldwide fame and recognition as the bass guitarist for the Beatles, which is often considered the most influential group in all of music history. He and co-Beatle John Lennon were among the most successful songwriting teams of all time. He has even been knighted. When Paul first picked up the guitar, he attempted to play it right-handed, but he became frustrated and nearly gave up. Luckily for us, he saw a photograph of Slim Whitman playing left-handed. This encouraged the young Paul to reverse the guitar, reverse the strings, and pick with his left hand. Paul also plays bass left-handed. But when he sits behind a drum kit, he plays right-handed.
Phil Collins Phil Collins has a great number of accomplishments under his belt — he’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and actor — but he’s best known as a drummer. He played the drums, and later took up the role of lead vocalist, for the English prog-rock band Genesis. He also fulfilled drumming duties for the jazz fusion band Brand X and released a massive string of Top 40 hits as a solo artist. As a drummer, Phil pioneered the gated-reverb snare sound that dominated the 1980s and has earned the praise of such celebrated drummers as Taylor Hawkins, Mike Portnoy, Marco Minnemann, Brann Dailor, Nick D’Virgilio, and John and Jason Bonham. Beyond that, he won Modern Drummer’s Pop/Mainstream Rock Drummer of the Year every year between 1987 and 1991. For most of his career, Phil played a signature left-handed Gretsch drum kit. He was also an early adopter of a number of electronic percussion instruments.
Kurt Cobain If you were a rock fan in the early 1990s, Kurt Cobain had a profound effect on your life. Even today, he’s remembered as one of the most iconic rock musicians in the history of alternative music. Kurt’s band, Nirvana, was labeled “the flagship band” of Generation X, and he was hailed as “the spokesman of a generation,” thanks to his lyrically resonant songwriting. As a guitarist, Kurt was known for the fuzzy distorted power chords and warbling chorused clean tones he coaxed out of his modified Fender Mustang. The image of his frenetic left-handed strumming is forever burned into our consciousness. Interestingly enough, Kurt wasn’t actually left-handed, although he played the guitar that way — he played the drums, wrote, and engaged in most other activities right-handed.
Lady Gaga Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (a.k.a. Lady Gaga) is one of the best-selling music artists in modern history, holding multiple Guinness World Records, three Brit Awards, six Grammy Awards, and several awards from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She was also declared Billboard’s Artist of the Year in 2010. While she’s an accomplished vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and actress, Lady Gaga has also garnered attention for her unconventional, provocative, larger-than-life stage persona. And while her music continues to break down barriers, she also receives respect from fans and non-fans alike for her advocacy and generous philanthropy. Like the other musicians on this list, Lady Gaga is left-handed — she holds a mic, writes, and does just about everything with her left hand. Even her tattoos are inked only on the left side of her body. That said, Lady Gaga plays guitar right-handed.
Jimi Hendrix Of course, a list of left-handed musicians wouldn’t be complete without including the most famous left-handed guitarist of all time, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix. His groundbreaking fusion of rock and electric blues and revolutionary use of high-gain feedback, fuzz tones, wah-wah, and octave and modulation effects reinvented the instrument. When Jimi channeled the rock guitar gods during a spellbinding rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, it became a part of our collective consciousness. And the guitar-burning incident at Monterey? Well, that’s one of the most iconic moments in rock history. Jimi played right-handed guitars that were turned upside down and restrung for left-handed playing. His most famous guitar was an Olympic White Fender Stratocaster. Stringing the right-handed guitar backward gave his Strat a unique sound, adding brightness to the lower strings and darkening the higher ones. An interesting side note — even though Jimi was a lefty, he wrote right-handed.
There Are a Lot of Left-handed Musicians Of course, this list is just a start. Wynton Marsalis, Tony Iommi, Dick Dale, Eric Gales, Albert King, Nick Bowcott — there are countless left-handed musicians out there. Who’s your favorite left-handed musician? Who would you add to this list?
Original on Sweetwater By Mac McDonough on Aug 13, 2018, 8:00 AM