Friday, August 2, 2013


Last week, I gave you a list of fuzztone guitar hits. Since I believe in fairness and diversity (I know that is a dirty word here in Springfield, Mo, but that is why like to use it), I thought I would give the wah-wah pedal the same treatment. The title of this post comes from the fact that "Cry Baby" is the name of a popular brand of wah-wah pedal.

A quick history of wah-wah pedal: It was inspired by trumpeter Clyde McCoy's hit "Sugar Blues." An extra bit of 3-degree-separation-type trivia, "Sugar Blues" was written by jazz musician Clarence Williams, who was the grandfather of actor Clarence Williams III of The Mod Squad. Clarence Williams III played Prince's father in Purple Rain and Prince's hit "Kiss" is included on this list.

As with fuzztone, some of the early wah-wah experiments were performed by Chet Adkins in country music.The first wah-wah pedal was marketed in 1966. A short time later, Clyde McCoy endorsed a brand of wah-wah pedal with his name (and face) on it, since he was the inspiration for the wah-wah sound. The "Cry Baby" came around a short time later.

I was surprised to find out some things about wah-wah guitar. Unlike fuzztone, wah-wah is not been as prevalent in music as the fuzztone guitar. Fuzztone has been used on rhythm guitar and on bass guitar, so it has been worked into many songs since it was popularized by the Rolling Stones on "Satisfaction."

While an out growth of the psychedelic and progressive rock of the 60s, wah-wah has been most prominent in funk and disco, as well as, movie and TV scores of the 70s. Of those, genres the wah-wah appears in detective/cop shows, Black-exploitation films and X-rated adult movies.

I also found a difference, compared to fuzztone, when people listed the best or greatest wah-wah. There was no similarities or agreement on list of "great moments" in fuzztone guitar, but there seemed to be almost universal agreement on the "greatest moments in wah-wah guitar." The top five on all of these list had Jimi Hendrix at number one with "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)," Cream was at number two with "White Room" and rounding out the rest of the top five would be (different orders on different list) "Sweet Child O'Mine" by Guns N Roses, "Theme From Shaft" by Issac Hayes and "Enter the Sandman" by Metallica.

So here is some of the great moments in wah-wah guitar.

"Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" - Jimi Hendrix Experience
"White Room" - Cream
"Sweet Child O'Mine" - Guns N Roses
"Theme from Shaft" - Issac Hayes
"Enter the Sandman" - Metallica
"Stand" - R.E.M.
"Electric Funeral" - Black Sabbath
"Kiss" - Prince & the Revolution
"1969" - the Stooges
"25 or 6 to 4" - Chicago
"Peace Frog" - The Doors
"Papa Was a Rolling Stone" - The Temptations
"Walk Away" - James Gang
"Tell Me Something Good" - Rufus
"Crimson and Clover" (LP version) - Tommy James & the Shondells
"My Home is in Alabama" - Alabama
"Night Fever" - Bee Gees
"Free Ride" - Edgar Winter Group
"Children of the Sun" - Billy Thorpe
"Show Me the Way" - Peter Frampton
"1976" - Redd Kross
"Rubber Bullets" - 10CC
"Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry
"We're an American Band' - Grand Funk Railroad
"Theme of Foxy Brown" - Willie Hutch
"Pictures of Matchstick Men" - Status Quo
"Theme from S.W.A.T" - Rhythm Heritage
"1984" - David Bowie
"Back To the River" - Damnation of Adam Blessing
"Hope You're Feeling Better" - Santana
"No Opportunity Nessesary, No Experience Needed" - Yes
"Strawberry Letter 23" - Brothers Johnson
"Brick House" - The Commodors
"Your Mama Don't Dance" - Loggins & Messina
"Mama Can't Buy You Love" - Elton John
"Smiling Faces Sometimes" - The Undisputed Truth
"If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)" - Luther Ingram
"Well All Right" - Blind Faith
"That Lady" - Isley Brothers
"Hot N Nasty" - Humble Pie
"I Just Want to Celebrate" - Rare Earth
"Spiders & Snakes" - Jim Stafford
"For The Love of Money" - O'Jays 

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