Early '80s. Guys like EVH, Satriani, Yngwie, Vai, Lynch, Bratta, MacAlpine, were it. At the same time, hair metal acts like Poison, Warrant etc... were pretty happening as well. I was playing a pointy banana-shaped headstock Kramer into a small Peavey amp.
A few years later, GNR's AFD and The Cult's Sonic Temple came out, and the Gibby Les Paul became cool again, at least in my eyes.
There was also this local guy, in Montreal, who got a lot of coverage, at least in the guitar community. His name was Joey Greco, and he was teaching one of my guitar buddies. MTV had dedicated metal/hard rock shows, hair was worn long, fun times.
Interesting question, and I've thought of it many times after reading so many "blooze" bashing threads. Guys constantly making fun of 40-50 years old dudes with goatees playing the "blooze" because it is "easy". Absolute horse-****. The reason so many in that age group really love the blues style, is that is what they grew up listening to and loving.
Growing up, my favorite guitarists were Jimi Hendrix (was already dead though), Billy Gibbons, Ace Frehley, Gary Moore, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page, Ted Nugent, Joe Perry, and the like. The massive bands of the seventies where almost every one of the guitarists were blues-BASED. This was in addition to listening to the blues guitarists off the "X" radio stations that you could pick up back then. Eddie came next in the line of guitarists, but then came Stevie, Eric, Slash and so many others.
If you grew up listening and loving the early blues based hard rock, you probably tried to play like that. If you grew up later and listened to Vai and Malmsteen, you probably wanted to play like that. You play what you like.
1989 = towards the last few years where "shred" was still kinda cool (I guess). So some of the usual suspects, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, a little Vitto Bratta and at age 17 I discovered my biggiest influence and still my favorite guitarist - Paul Gilbert. Add quite a bit of Nuno in there too... Also, the whole Seattle scene was an influence on my playing/tastes like many at that age.
Went through several years of a Lilith Fair phase where I only listened to women and pianos... then I got more into jazz and discovered Bill Frisell and Nels Cline. But I'm back really into heavy guitar again. Paul Gilbert has kept going and still has some of the best music in my play list. His solo records prove that "shred" guitarists can write amazing songs too.
I was blues-obsessed and enjoying every minute of life. The city was still relatively small so the cost of living was still cheap. The UT chicks were hot. Saw a great many of the greats up close. Got to hang with Albert Collins. Played some of the craziest dive bars.
At the same time, my buddies drove me frantically to all the record stores trying to find this new album called Nevermind. Never-wha? Nevermind that, give me more Otis Rush.
What became more and more obvious was the stranglehold of an influence that SRV had over the scene. By the time a couple of years had passed, I'd OD'd on the blues and never wanted to hear high-octane blues guitar again.
It was a great time though, and I wouldn't change it for anything.
I started playing guitar and bass circa '72. People I knew who were influenced by players current at that time listened to Clapton, Allman Bros., Wishbone Ash, early Fleetwood Mac, various blues players...
A little later the Southern Rock thing hit big around me so add Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, the Outlaws...
And "Country Rock" (Burrito Brothers, Late Byrds, Eagles, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Poco, CSNY). Then there were the guys listening to the Grateful Dead.
My earliest gigs were with a friend's older brother's cover band, playing a lot of old 60s country (e.g., George Jones), rock & roll (e.g., C. Berry) and R&B (e.g., Sam Cooke). There were quite a few people influenced by bluegrass in my area too.
Most of my playing out was on bass until the mid '90s. By the time I was playing lead guitar you probably wouldn't have been able to hear my influences very well in my playing.
I remember hooking up the variac to my cassette deck to slow the motor down on Rising Force. Didn't help. The early 80's was a tough time to be starting on guitar. Seemed like every 6 months somebody was upping the bar on what it took to be great. I honestly think I would be a better player today if I had started in a different era or had the sense to abandon the pursuit of speed much earlier. Still love me some shred though.
68/69 for me. The music scene was crazy good in Chicago then. Played with a lot of at the time old timers. A great jump into the fire kinda thing going on. Still out doing it but, not as many good ones out there as before. Oh the memories.
Metal and shred. Started playing in the mid-80s in high school. I was drawn to much older music and really didn't like hairspray , helium-vocal stuff. It shaped me musically in that I just don't have a "metal" bone in my body. EVH is probably the only player from that era that I like.
When friends my age would play me stuff like Dio, I just did NOT get it at all. I still don't.
Luckily between friends and relatives, I found some great records to learn from.
Tons of local players, bands and places to play (rec centers, schools, churches all had dances) and I was gigging steadily from 14 on.
Started on bass, when my sister's boyfriend showed me the pentatonic patterns and said - "That's all you need to know." He was right, I was in a band a month later. <g>
Switched to guitar in about 9th grade and woodshedded hard. Got in a band and played all over the area, made enough money to buy a used SG and a Marshall halfstack, which allowed me to get into better bands.
We were mainly playing guitar-based classic rock - Stones, Deep Purple, Doobies, ABB, Aerosmith, Montrose and stuff like that.
Around 1980/81 was when I got the bug. I was into the heavier 70's stuff. Aerosmith, Nugent, Purple, Sabbath. I was also a huge fan of southern rock. I had older friends who turned me on to Al DiMeola, Mahavishnu Orchestra and the fusion scene at the time. Then I heard Eruption and that was that. I got into all the hot shot metal/shred players of the day.
These days I play acoustic constantly. I've come full circle and play most of the stuff that got me interested in the first place. I love the fact that I can just pic the acoustic and go. No plugging in, effects or even a pick for me these days. It's just strings and fingers.
Born in 1953, started playing in 1965. Beatles, Stones, then Hendrix, Cream and Jeff Beck, Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Santana.
I also discovered jazz-Wes Montomery, Larry Coryell, John Mclaughlin, Pat Martino, George Benson, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Cannonball Adderley.
I hung out with some African American guys who turned me on to Donny Hathaway, Donald Byrd, Marvin Gaye, the Crusaders (Larry Carlton).
Then in 1976,I started working as a recording engineer doing classical music. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Wagner etc.
Somewhere along the line, I listened to a lot of country music and discovered gospel, big band jazz, smooth jazz (Larry Carlton again), and some "new classical" and electronic music from composers I worked for, Herbert Brun, Sal Martirano, Paul Zonn, Scott Wyatt, Zack Browning.