Desmond Child Says ’90s Guitarists ‘Weren’t Really Guitarists and Couldn’t Really Play,’ Shares Opinion on Grunge. tt

“They could play three or four chords and had trouble with that.”

Perhaps more so than any other songwriter-for-hire, Desmond Child’s name is linked most with ’80s rock. After all, he co-wrote some of the decade’s biggest hits – Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Livin’ On A Prayer,” Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady),” Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” etc.During a recent interview with Songfacts, the subject of the style of music that seemingly put his radio-friendly brand of rock out of business for a spell – grunge – came up. And from Child’s point of view, grunge was sorely lacking in at least one specific area – the guitar hero.

“That kind of music was overshadowed by Nirvana, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ and the whole Seattle sound, which brought in grunge. It was the complete opposite of the extroverted presentations: chest out, reaching out, looking up. The new generation were what we’d call ‘shoegazers’ – they just looked down because they had to because they weren’t really guitarists and couldn’t really play.”

Desmond Child Says '90s Guitarists 'Weren't Really Guitarists and Couldn't Really Play,' Shares Opinion on Grunge | Ultimate Guitar

“They could play three or four chords and had trouble with that. They were not virtuosos like Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, who could light up the stage with their extraordinary playing.”

Looking back, however, Child could see why there was such an abrupt change in the rock world circa the early ’90s.

“The shoegazers were more conceptual. Some of them were art students that took up guitar. Their hair was in their face, they looked down, their chests were sunken in, their clothes were baggy instead of tight – everything was completely the opposite.”

“That’s how it is: things swing one way and then suddenly it swings the other way. You can’t have styles change like that unless you have a star, and Nirvana had a star that captivated everyone’s imagination.”

In addition to co-penning countless ’80s hits, Child’s songwriting career has spanned several decades – beginning with a bang in 1979 with Kiss’ rock-disco smash, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” and continuing throughout the years with pop hits for such artists as Ricky Martin, Carrie Underwood, and Katy Perry, among others.

In 2023, he issued his autobiography, “Livin’ on a Prayer: Big Songs Big Life.”

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