FZZZZZZ: In Celebration of the Fuzz Pedal
THIS week, in ’65, The Rolling Stones crash-landed at the top of the pop charts with a song that would become the band’s signature tune.
(‘I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ gave the group their 4th no.1 single in the UK, which Keith Richards came up with while in Florida. He recorded a rough demo of the riff in a hotel room. Famously, he knocked the riff out into a tape and then fell asleep.
The song started life as two minutes of acoustic fumblings and and “then me snoring for the next forty minutes.”
One of the main ingredients that made the song so memorable was the Gibson Maestro Fuzz Pedal. That FZZZZing, BZZZZZing noise would become one of the hallmarks of ’60s beat music and the Stones taking it to the toppermost of the poppermost only ensured that everyone was going to jump on the sound.
A plethora of other fuzz pedals hit the market, with bands gobbling them up and firing out records that had added attitude, thanks to their guitars becoming even more primal.
So with that, let’s look at the glory of the fuzz pedal, with some famous songs, and some less so.
The Rolling Stones ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
The most famous fuzz guitar of them all, which needs no further introduction.
The Kinks ‘Til The End Of The Day’
The Kinks would slash their speakers to get a fuzz tone and that can be heard on ‘All Day And All Of The Night’ and ‘You Really Got Me’. Another one from that period is the ferocious ‘Til The End Of The Day’.
Demonstration Record for the Fuzztone
Here’s a great demonstration record, which were commonplace for new innovations at the time. Around 2 minutes in, things really get going. It is lovely to hear ‘the tuba’ sound et al, which would soon be applied with wild abandon on psychedelic and garage records.
The Ventures ‘2000 Pound Bee’
The Ventures were quite possibly the first band to utilise fuzz guitar on a pop record and this absolute barnstormer is the finest example of a band pushing the guitar to new possibilities.
Electric Prunes ‘I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night’
When they weren’t doing adverts for Vox Wah-Wah pedals, The Electric Prunes were making monstrous fuzz tracks like this, which was written by two teenage girls. It isn’t about drugs – the girls were writing about dirty dreams.
The Nazz ‘Open My Eyes’
Todd Rundgren, before he turned into a one-man Beatles, was in The Nazz, and in their brilliant ‘Open My Eyes’, he not only flexes his considerable songwriting skill, but also, one of the most killer fuzz riffs ever recorded.
The Yardbirds ‘Heart Full Of Soul’
Hardly surprising that The Yardbirds, what with them having the greatest roster of guitarists ever, adopted the fuzz pedal quickly. Jeff Beck was a huge fan (check ‘Beck’s Bolero’) and a fine fuzz can be heard cutting through this stomper.
The Guess Who ‘American Woman’
There’s little to say about this record, other that it sounds like, as well as the fuzz instrumentation, the singer sounds like he swallowed a fuzz pedal as well.
The Intruders ‘She’s Mine’
Ridiculously snotty garage punk number from the pretty much unheard-of Intruders… but check out the overdriven fuzz in the intro. It nearly runs away with itself.
The Beatles ‘Hey Bulldog’
The Fab Four weren’t afraid of fuzz, but it was mainly taken up by McCartney’s basslines. In ‘Hey Bulldog’, the Beatles’ finest fuzz moment. They employed it on ‘Think For Yourself’, ‘Revolution’ and loads more.