Secret Celebrity Guitarists
Whilst, the following names may not make rock n roll history, these guys are moonlighting with some surprising guitar skills.
1. Hugh Laurie
Known in the UK as one of the foremost figures in British comedy and, to US audiences, as the star of TV hit show House, Hugh Laurie is an accomplished jazz musician and piano wizard. His love of the blues saw him release the rootsy album Let Them Talk in 2010. Whilst his piano skills have seen him feature as a session musician for artists such as Meatloaf, his love for blues guitar playing is often not showcased to the extent it deserves.
Is he any good? Indeed he is! Rather than a token ‘strummer’, Laurie has some solid Delta Blues guitar chops. Take a look for yourself:
2. Conan O’Brien
With their clean cut persona and style, it is hard to imagine any chat show host has a secret life as a rocker! Having famously gone on a guitar shopping spree with Slash in addition to fronting a house band, Conan O’Brien can hold his own as a competent rock and blues guitar player. His guitar playing has been the occasional feature during his late night show, for comedy effect, famously engaging in a live guitar battle with Jack Black on air.
Is he any good? Whilst Conan may be more confident as a rhythm guitar player, he has the timing of a pro and doesn’t stand out amongst top session band peers. Check him out in action:
3. Samuel L Jackson
Yep, you read that right! While he may not be able to bust out the big licks or melt any faces, Samuel L Jackson’s true talent is the speed in which he learnt to play guitar. Taking method acting to the extreme, Jackson learnt to play guitar specifically for his role as Lazarus Redd, a blues guitarist and main character in the 2007 movie Black Snake Moan. He began his lessons whilst filming Snakes On A Plane and took tuition from the on-set prop handler, reportedly playing every spare moment in his trailer. When he completed filming, his formal lessons began with Felicia Collins - famous session guitarist with the Late Show CBS orchestra.
Can he play? Considering his fast track to guitar proficiency, Jackson can play some convincing old school blues. Check out this scene from the movie:
4. Joe Keery (Actor - Stranger Things)
Having found fame in recent years playing the character Steve Harrington in the overwhelmingly popular series Stranger Things, Joe Keery is a serious player and guitarist in the psychedelic rock band Post Animal. With complex prog rock guitar lines and syncopated riffs, Keery is no hobby guitarist and displays a genuine musical virtuosity.
5. Ryan Gosling
With his good looks and Hollywood rep, you would imagine Ryan Gosling’s musical leanings to be more wholesome and benign than his macabre gothic band Dead Man’s Bones. Having turned out some serious piano chops in the movie La La Land, Gosling surprised listeners with his guitar and bass skills which provided tracks for supernatural horror movie The Conjuring soundtrack.
How’s his playing? When it comes to his guitar skills, Gosling definitely falls into the singer-songwriter camp, however is knowledge of the instrument and applied harmony is clearly strong.
6. Jason Momoa
Having made the ladies swoon for the better part of a decade it seems Jason Momoa has it all going for him; at least he doesn’t have great guitar chops to add to the mix, right?! While that might be technically true, he is a mean bass player. And we’re not talking punk style, ham fisted root note playing, Momoa is into some serious slap and pop action! Footage of him taking on the might of some Les Claypool uber tricky funk lines is enough to convince you that he isn’t just a part time dabbler!
Wanna take a look at his chops? Cast your eyes and ears over his impromptu performance of Higher Ground with this Nashville band and watch him slap the life outta that thing!:
7. Kristian Nairn (Hodor - Game Of Thrones)
A man of few words on screen, you would be forgiven for assuming that the actor behind Game Of Thrones - Hodor, Kristian Nairn, would be somewhat of a retiring character - not a fire breathing metal guitar monster! Whilst his main side hustle is as a dance DJ, Nairn digs his old school technical metal and can shred with the best of them. Footage of him jamming Megadeth’s Holy Wars with non other than Dave Mustaine is a pretty convincing testament to this. But the real show stopper is this performance of the Game Of Thrones theme during his DJ set.
The boy can play! (note how tiny that guitar looks in his hands!):
So there have it, a somewhat surprising detour into the world of the lesser known A-list guitar players. Perhaps there is room in Hollywood for some rock guitarists turned actors? Or maybe we should leave that job to them!