Remembering Guitar Hero

When the Guitar Hero phenomenon was happening, I thought it was truly great, and it’s unfortunate to see it slowly fade away.

The coolest thing about the Guitar Hero games is they inspired kids to pick up real guitars and play, and for a little while, it helped save what was left of the music business.

Although a lot of bands grumbled about kids getting good music out of a video game, it created a whole new revenue stream for bands in an age when people stopped buying music.

At first, it took forever to get big bands involved, but one the Guitar Hero phenomenon took off, bands were lining up around the block to be a part of it, again because it would make them big money. Aerosmith’s game reportedly grossed $25 million its first week, and the band Dragon Force’s sales went up a reported 183% percent after their song “Through the Fire and Flames” appeared on Guitar Hero.

Metallica getting their own Guitar Hero game may have been the point where the game had finally arrived, because the band has always been extremely picky with whatever they lend their name to. And the musicians who recreated the tunes were very meticulous, doing an enormous amount of homework to recreate some of the greatest tunes, riffs and licks in rock history.

Guitarist Marcus Henderson, one of the musicians who played on Guitar Hero, said that getting the music right wasn’t just important, “It’s everything. You need it to be dead-on.” 

Guitarist Lance Taber, who also played on Guitar Hero, said, “Nothing cries poser faster than phonetitcally playing most of the notes right, but you haven’t paid attention to the sounds, or the guitar / amp combination.” 

As always in rock and roll, integrity is everything. Guitarist Nick Gallant remembered the moment the game had arrived was when he one day walked into a Guitar Center, heard a kid playing a bunch of tunes through a loud Mesa Boogie amp, and then realized the tunes he chose to play weren’t random covers, but the songs from Guitar Hero 2 in order.

For a brief moment in time, Guitar Hero was the hottest thing since sliced bread, and it was loved by gamers, musicians, and every day folks of all walks to life. Many people secretly dream of being rock stars, and Guitar Hero enabled you to be a legend in your own living room. Like the ad campaign for the game said: “Live like a mortal. Rock Like a God.”