Kerry King Guitar Abuse

Photo by Matt OttoKerry King Guitar Abuse

Pepperland Music, Orange

Monday, Dec. 13

Your hands would shake, too, if your guitar hero handed you his own instrument so you could play one of his own songs to him. And after you were done ruining it—after you proved all those lonely hours in the bedroom really would have been better invested in some hardcore porn—he might still console you, telling you, no, you did a good job. And at that point, he'd go from guitar hero to guitar god. And Slayer guitarist Kerry King knows what it's like to be a god—at least for a couple of hundred metalheads at a time. With violins and mandolins hanging on the walls, rocker dudes hanging around outside, and incongruous counters full of Beatles memorabilia watching warily from the corners, the staff at Pepperland ushered in the Slayer faithful (“I love the bright colors they're all wearing,” one joked). There were tiny kids, longhairs and grayhairs, and that bread-and-butter-for-guitar-shredder demographic, lots of teenaged hessians, all there for Kerry King's Guitar Abuse Event: a hybrid guitar clinic, Q&A, autograph session, and chance to yell, “WOOOO!” really loud and throw devil horns on a Monday evening. And who would deny the enthusiasm? This was a pretty unique opportunity for face time with a guy who played guitar on the best metal record not made by Black Sabbath. King took the stage to a very healthy (even . . . unholy?) roar from about as big a crowd as could fit into the store and explained the premise: come up here and play my songs to me. And so it began. Some were poor; some were great. Most dealt with playing King's own riffs to him with the sort of “er, shit . . . wait . . .” stopping/starting/hemming/hawing a novice musician knows all too well. Then there was the guy who ignored the advice about playing original material. “At least I didn't butcher one of your songs,” he said. “I was wondering what that was,” King answered. Most attempts ended with King taking back the guitar and showing the fan how to play the song—or telling them they nailed it and playing a little more, just to tease the crowd. Pretty soon, King was demonstrating sections of songs by request. “You guys are old-school,” he said. “You're asking for all the Show No Mercy stuff!” (That's a record released before a good 50 percent of the crowd existed.) Observing just the faces of onlookers watching King was like an altar POV in the most faithful of chapels—the kind of joyful grins metalheads aren't allowed to flash. When King was finished, a few couldn't contain shouting out for what they'd really come to see: “Whammy bar!” “Go fast!” “Just shred!”

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