OK, I'll admit it – a) I'm from Derby, and b) (possibly because of a) ) - I'm not really into football.
But everyone loves a good underdog story, and you have to love the fact that a team with a fraction of the budget of the Arsenals, Chelseas, and Manchester Uniteds have taken on the big buys and beat them fair and square. Certainly, a great many of my students have been nursing hangovers this week past..
So, what can us musos learn from this? Leicester's secret – as one of my drummer friends told me several times, in various states of inebriation – has been playing as a team. No showboating, no egos. No one member out to make a name for themselves.
Let's take a moment to think about how this applies to guitarists. A look through a list of the greatest session guitarists will reveal names like Steve Lukather, Steve Cropper, Nile Rodgers, Tim Pierce and Cornell Dupree – not all of them exactly household names, but all of them consistently working across years and sometimes decades. Check out their discographies and prepare to scrape your jaw off the floor.
So what do these guys have in common? What makes them so consistently employable?
Steve Cropper described his approach as “listening to what everyone else was playing. It didn't make sense to me to be stepping on a drum fill or a bass line or a horn line. I would stay out of the way of everyone else,. And then, when I'd find a hole, I'd jump in there and fill it”.
Nile Rodgers: “To me the more information you hear, the less funky it is. Less is more in my world.”
Tim Pierce (On the Goo Goo Dolls sessions): “Johnny (Reznik) plays all of the acpustics and quite a few electrics and then I come in to try to fill what's missing.”
Steve Lukather: “I don't think I'm the best guitar player, matter of fact, I'm very self deprecating. I don't think I'm that good at all”
Cornell Dupree (as described by Bernard Edwards): “We never stepped on each other's toes – it was like a polite conversation.”
Claudio Ranieri (Leicester's manager) - “We fight for each other on the pitch. We are 11 when we go on to the field and in all my career I don't think I have known a team as strong at being together.”
The message is pretty clear – any team enterprise, be it band or football team – you're a team. And a team is only as strong as it's weakest link. Don't be that link.