Contrary to some reports, the electric guitar is not dead. Far from it, in fact.

[Every decade or so, people start wailing about the death of rock and how the electric guitar is on the way out. And every single time, those doomsayers are proven wrong. Here’s the latest rebuttal to the latest alleged crisis from The Independent. -AC]

“Just two years ago, a now-infamous article in The Washington Post declared the “slow, secret death of the electric guitar”. It cited a decline in sales of the instrument, from 1.5 million a year in 2007 to slightly more than a million a decade later. The report then became the subject of a question put to Eric Clapton, one of the world’s most famous players, who said (almost certainly joking), ‘maybe the guitar is over.’

“Yet one need only glance at this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist. From Little Simz’s GREY Area to the wide-ranging cluster of bands including Foals, Black Midi, Fontaines DC and Idles, the majority of shortlisted albums are all notable for their experimental and technically brilliant use of the instrument. So what exactly is going on?

“In the late Nineties and early Noughties, you couldn’t move for ‘guitar bands,’ many of whom were lumped into the era that is now referred to as ‘landfill indie.’ Razorlight, The Kooks, The View, The Pigeon Detectives, The Wombats, The Fratellis, The Libertines… and our token American friends, Kings of Leon. Mediocrity in British music had become synonymous with the image of the guitar-wielding white indie kid. Guitars were suddenly, impossibly, uncool.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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