Greatest Guitarist Ever: Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane might’ve been the best guitar player of all time, period. I say this with the utmost sincerity: his music was of an extremely profound quality. At first listen, you notice it’s not as directly melodic as traditional “shredders” or not as “jazzy” as traditional jazz players, but under that there is an amazingly deep understanding and feeling to it. And then there’s his unparalleled technical ability. Legend has it Shawn recorded the keyboard drums on his first album, Powers of Ten live using his hands like a piano. His piano skills weren’t too shabby.

I would categorize blatantly melodic music as having a strong, rich flavor to the composition, like if you were eating a meal with very heavy tastes and spices, aromas or sensations. While it may taste incredible and is delicious, after the meal you might need to take a break and rest. One should certainly not gorge oneself on rich foods every day. Shawn Lane’s music is like food that tastes good but is also very nutritious and healthy for you. It’s like eating extremely fresh raw veggies or fish. It gives you energy to do things and makes the rest of your day more fulfilling. His music does this, but it isn’t noticeable right away, just as you don’t notice how important it is to stay healthy until you’re older and wiser (unless you’re an insane young person).

Fuckin’ artists, like, man…Hella mad hella good hella albumGood people? On MY internets?

Unfortunately his solo albums are very difficult to find. It’s really ridiculous that his stuff is in such limited distribution. But it’s easy to find his excellent collaborations with Jonas Hellborg (one of the best names ever). But make sure to search for Jonas Hellborg first, as there is some other Shawn Lane who is some boring country singer. And for some reason it’s harder to located Shawn Lane’s stuff on places like Amazon by searching for him directly. I picked up Zenhouse, an acoustic set they did live in Scandanavia and Good People in Times of Evil, one of their first Indian-fusion works and one of the greatest albums I have heard in my whole damn life. Check out a concert video: V. Selvaganesh plays Hindustani Indian percussion on this album (tabla and vocals) and has a solo break on the third track that is amazing and should open up a whole new world of musical avenues and possibilities for anyone as yet unfamiliar with Indian and tabla vocal performances.

Shawn Lane died in 2003 at 40 years of age. He had psoriasis all his life and had to take heavy steroid medications for it. As a result, he gained tremendous weight in his later years before his death.

One bad dude.

Everything these guys did together puts all the jam bands you’ve heard to absolute shame. I like it much better than anything John Maclaughlin or other jazz and indian fusion contemporaries have done. Shawn Lane’s stuff is totally unpretentious and enlightened (in every possible sense of the word here). Exciting and beautiful music by a fantastic human being who loved life and music.


Buy his stuff at Bardo Records
Buy Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane music @ Amazon


~ by chaosrexmachinae on October 13, 2007.

4 Responses to “Greatest Guitarist Ever: Shawn Lane”

  1. The greatest and most unappreciated musician in the history of man kind. Amazing

  2. I met Shawn,Jonas and Jeff in April 1997 and got to hang out with him for a couple hours. He was so down to earth and was amazed at how much of the same music we both enjoyed….from Keith Jarrett to Jeff Beck and Roy Buchanan.
    In years following our meeting, I often felt like I had met the greatest guitarist on the planet,but now I am sure of it!

  3. Shawn was the most musical person on the planet. He makes other great guitarists sound absolutely boring. I would have loved to see him live. RIP Shawn, you were the best.

  4. Unequivocally, Shawn Lane was the premier, most accomplished electric guitarist who ever drew a breath. His combined virtuosity, artistry and harmonic sophistication was and remains without peer.

    Shawn’s technique was extraordinary but never employed in a manner that would remotely sacrifice comprehensibility or intelligibility, in either his compositions or his improvisational template.


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