Joel Hoekstra


Joel Hoekstra ~ Essential Inspiration

by James H

Joel Hoekstra Joel Hoekstra is easily the hardest working man in show business these days. Even when the great James Brown held the title, he would be a slacker couch potato compared to the constant gigging and recording of Hoekstra. Between Night Ranger, Rock of Ages, Trans Siberian Orchestra and numerous other studio and live gigs it seems the list of artists he hasn't worked with is shorter than the one he has. Joel was generous and cool enough to take some time with us to share his thoughts on some seminal albums that shaped his future as a guitarist.

James: So, what if you were to suggest a handful of what you consider to be essential guitar albums that every self-respecting guitarist should own and know intimately.




Joel: Man, I don’t know. There are so many…It’s hard to say.

James: Yeah, well in no particular order.

Joel: Well, everybody should own Back In Black for hard rock. Everyone should know Angus Young and AC/DC and what they bring to the table just in terms of being flat-out cool.

James: Yeah, great raw energy.

Joel: Hmm, I would say...for some reason (Pink Floyd) The Wall comes to mind and David Gilmour, I love David Gilmour. I started out listening to AC/DC and Black Sabbath. I would say, if I had to pick a Black Sabbath album, I don’t know, maybe “Paranoid.” Great record for riffs. You know, Tony Iommi was a great early influence.  So, in the beginning; Ozzy, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. And the most notable Ozzy record would be “Blizzard of Ozz.”  So then I got into all the shred stuff.  You know that’s such a degrading term, but perhaps, maybe just more technically proficient players.

I would say some other records that had a big influence on me were Steve Morse, “The Introduction,” and I would definitely say Steve Vai’s “Passion and Warfare.” and Joe Satriani, I really liked his first record, “Not of This Earth.”

James: Yeah, “Hordes of Locusts.” That used to just get me.

Joel: Yeah, I thought it was really a unique-sounding album. All the instruments were there to support him. There was no one else trying to get there licks in. (Laughs)

So, for whatever reason, it really made an impact and when Yngwie came out, You can’t ever overlook Yngwie… So, Rising Force was very inspirational.

James: Well, how about something from something outside of the Hard Rock guitar world that you would draw upon?

Joel Hoekstra

Joel: I really like the band, The Sunday’s, “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.”
That guitar player (David Gavurin)  is really inventive with his parts. Great clean stuff. I love all the melodic kind of Pop Rock players, like Tom Scholtz of Boston. I’d say definitely Journey’s greatest hits. Neal Schon was a big influence on me. I love Trevor Rabin. All the stuff he did with Yes and his solo album “Can’t Look Away.” That’s still one of my favorite albums.

James: Yes, and he’s a great producer too.

Joel: He’s a great singer too. He’s like David Gilmour, no-one mentions the vocals but really, if I had to name some of my favorite singers, those guys are like a couple of them right there. Their singing is so good, Their tones are amazing. So that kind of Pop Rock, stuff from that era. I was also really into Triumph.

James: You did some recording with Rick Emmett, right? Or, performing?

Joel:  Rick, I’ve been able to play his hits with him on his on that Jim Peterik World Stage gig quite a few times and we know each other pretty well, so I’ve been dying to do something with him someday. Maybe sit in on one of his acoustic duo gigs. It just so happens that I’m usually out of town when he comes to New York. But he’s a great guy, a great singer and great guitar player.

James H: A really versatile player.

Joel: Yes, I was a huge Triumph fan for a good period of time and a MAJOR Rush fan. I can’t believe I haven’t said that yet. I went through every phase of Rush. In fact, if I had to name my favorite band of all time it’s probably Rush. Just all the different styles they created and Alex Lifeson, I love all his loose kind of Jimmy Page-ish phrasing all the way down to his killer rhythm parts that are just exactly the right thing to play in a song. And Jimmy Page, man, you know, for that matter. If I had to pick a favorite, I kind of like all the real versatile Zeppelin stuff , not necessarily the hardest rockin’ stuff, so maybe Houses of the Holy, just because it has all those different styles. I really like the fact that Page was so versatile. I miss that about buying an album, period, that you can’t just hear like all these different styles represented. Somewhere along the line every band decided that and every song kind of needs to sound the same. (laughs)

James: Yeah, that might have been a corporate decision. But with Zeppelin you could go from Hard Rock to Blues to Country and Pop to kind of White Reggae whatever.

Joel: Yes, and whatever style and song it was always distinctly Zeppelin.


Joel Hoekstra

Photo by Ben Miller



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