Rock legends rail against Guitar Hero

When the first Guitar Hero hit the shelves back in 2006, artists weren't exactly queuing to be featured in the game, and the original track list featured mostly covers of famous songs. Since then, however, the series has gone from strength to strength with Guitar Hero surpassing the $2 billion mark...

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When the first Guitar Hero hit the shelves back in 2006, artists weren't exactly queuing to be featured in the game, and the original track list featured mostly covers of famous songs. Since then, however, the series has gone from strength to strength with Guitar Hero surpassing the $2 billion mark in sales and rival series Rock Band reaching $1 billion in sales in North America alone.

With both companies waving around big wads of cash, they've been able to attract some of the biggest names in rock and pop music to have their original music to be featured in the game. This has led to artist-featured versions, including AC/DC and Van Halen, and even the file-sharing haters Metallica have lent their name to a game.

Not everyone is happy about the rhythm game revolution, however. NME reports that the White Stripes' Jack White and legendary guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin both had a pop at Guitar Hero at a conference in Los Angeles.

"It's depressing to have a label come and tell you that [Guitar Hero] is how kids are learning about music and experiencing music," said White. "If you [the artist] have to be in a video game to get in front of them, that's a little sad." Page also chimed in, adding that he can't imagine people are learning about playing real instruments from the games. "You think of the drum part that John Bonham did on Led Zeppelin's first track on the first album, 'Good Times Bad Times,'" he said. "How many drummers in the world can play that part, let alone on Christmas morning?"

White and Page aren't the first stars to have a dig at Guitar Hero. Rock-funk legend Prince turned down an offer to licence songs for Guitar Hero earlier this year, citing "principle" as the deciding factor. "I just think it's more important that kids learn how to actually play the guitar. It's a tough instrument--it's not easy. It took me a long time, and it was frustrating at first. And you just have to stick with it, and it's cool for people who don't have time to learn the chords or ain't interested in it, but to play music is one of the greatest things."

Though Page's remarks may have dashed hopes for a Guitar Hero Led Zeppelin, arguably the biggest group of all time, famous digital holdouts The Beatles have their own Rock Band coming out this September.

Discussion

87 comments
Ybnrmalatall
Ybnrmalatall

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

abeard424
abeard424

They have good points, but there are still tons of people buying real guitars

Supreme4dmira1
Supreme4dmira1

I think Prince has the best idea out of all these artists bashing these games. And lol@White, he's probably just upset that he doesn't have a bassist so he can't be in the games : P jk, but seriously I can respect Prince's decision, but the others are just dinosaurs living in the past. Music changes, as does its medium. Its a good thing they don't need money cause they are missing out on a lot of it.

Phazon_Elite8
Phazon_Elite8

I, myself, don't enjoy playing Guitar Hero/Rock Band because I'm a FPS kind of guy but I really enjoy going over to a friend's house and watching them play and I really enjoy listening to the music as well and I believe that is the point of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, to really bring friends together and just have a great time all around.

EM_de_BX
EM_de_BX

I think artists are taking this a bit 2 far. Guitar Hero is simply a game, not a substitute for learning an instrument. If an artist doesn't want to release their msic, so be it, doesn't mean I won't listen to it. Truthfully, some people do not have access to music by Zepplin, Van Halen, etc... for whatever reason. If this is another way for your music 2 be heard some capacity, there's nothing wrong with that. As far as playing actual instruments go, I've played instruments and loved it. These games are simply that, games with a fancy controller, nothing more.

izmickey
izmickey

@ delcidanddarth Well i cant agree with how you use the word talent, respectively of course. There are some people who are very talented yet dont become professional musicians. But i agree with what you said in terms to what some professional musicians say about kids learning music through guitar hero being sad. Its like saying you have to learn to play a real guitar in order to listen or appreciate THEIR music, i think they are a bit full of themselves.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

@izmickey It's a tough thing to argue that anyone that puts their mind to it can be great. I agree that nearly everyone who works hard can be good at whatever it is, but for most of us, we will never become professionals. That's why we call it talent... because not everyone has it. If everyone did, we would call it our right to shred on guitar. And for a professional musician to come out and say that Guitar Hero is bad for kids because playing guitar is a difficult skill and the game is dumbing down the craft, well, that's ridiculous. It is a game, afterall. Do athletes get upset that we play Madden, or NBA Jam?

izmickey
izmickey

@delcidanddarth I cant agree with you man. its like saying you cant be good at some games since you need talent. This may sound cheesy, but anyone can be or do anything if they really work hard at it. I used to suck at playing the guitar, i mean real bad. So i tried everyday and now i play it really damn good. My opinion on the article is that those artists are mistaken. If they really care about spreading the music than they should take every opportunity to get the music to the public.To me it really has no logic. i learned many songs i liked from guitar hero.

McDog3
McDog3

To reply to White's comments above, I feel that videogames can be utilized to get people interested in music or music groups. It's definitely one of the tools I used in the past to discover artists. Rise Against, Goldfinger, Silversun Pickups (to just name a few) are bands that I only got into because of the fact they were featured in game series such as Tony Hawk, MX Unleashed, and Guitar Hero. For me, videogames are a great place to discover the alternative-esque music I listen to. These games are essentially alternative radio stations. It's that, and the internet; those are pretty much my only two options since I don't listen to much mainstream pop/rock... I really don't understand his beef with discovering musicians through the medium of videogames, surely a fan is a fan no matter if he/she found them while playing the latest Guitar Hero or heard them on an old school FM radio.

SonicRaptor
SonicRaptor

I think if someone wants to play a guitar: they will actually go and play a guitar. I have no desire to and playing Guitar Hero is a fun simulation but I never considered it a substitute. Even if a GH player tried playing a guitar first, they would likely just get frustrated and stop. I don't think the music industry is going to suffer a lack of guitar players because of Guitar Hero. As I mentioned: If someone has the will and desire to play a guitar knowing what they are getting into, they will.

splody_is_fun
splody_is_fun

idk. i dont think they rlly need to be putting down Guitar Hero. it could be worse.. they coudl never learn about music in the first place. these games atleast allow kids to be more open to different kinds of music instead of just one genre.. like. rock for example. there are tons of sub genres to it. wen someone plays guitar hero they're more exposed to these subgenres. and if they are exposed to more genres.. who knows? maybe if they play an instrument this will inspire them to play different things instead of just one genre. And as far as the drums thing goes, it isnt a bad thing. if kida learn drumming on rockband or guitar hero thts good because they learn how to keep a steady beat wich is important wen playing an instrument. Especially if tht kid decides to learn how to play drums.

GohanSSJZ
GohanSSJZ

Right, this is just stupid, i can understand the whole playing a instrument thing, but having a issue how kids learn about music? What's so different about it, first it was the radio, then tv, now games, who cares really, why does it matter, it's all about enjoying music, getting to know knew kinds of music. Even though i was listening to rock and metal long before GH and RB, i still enjoy it because i'm listening to music i've forgotten about, or simply haven't checked out yet.

otanikun
otanikun

They're just unwilling to accept the fact that just strait up buying an album in the record stores isn't the only way for kids of this generation to learn about music, I mean if they're gonna take shots at games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band why not go after Apple and Itunes while they're at it? It's a new way to experience music and it's all digital rather than a physical medium, that should bother them too right? Kids of this generation are going more digital than the last decade ever did and it's something that's here to stay Mr. Paige and Mr. White, get your heads out of your butts and realize that video game music spreads music moreover now than anything else before it and it's not going to stop any time soon. Besides if they don't change their minds and get in on it while it's still hot, there goes some of your profit sharing, other bands are making more money because their albums are being bought by kids that played these games and boosted their sales; I'd say it's high time to get in on that action before it's too late and cash in too late and get nothing at all. Oh and Mr. Prince? Keep your trap shut, kids will learn the guitar when they want to, and I'm pretty sure that these games have at least had some hand in inspiring them to pick up an axe and start playing.

touchdownbundy
touchdownbundy

yeah guitar hero WAS cool but after 1000 guitar hero games without an difference in only one year i must say this sucks ! only new songs ! congratulations activison :D

MikeDecz
MikeDecz

There are some fantastic comments here. Keep it up!

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

Why is it "more important that kids learn how to actually play the guitar"? What if the kids have no intention of becoming famous guitar players? What's wrong with pretending? I mean, we have no problem pretending to be superheroes or skateboarders or baseball players...

Doeshza
Doeshza

You know i can really understand Page's remarks. But they don't seem to realize the potential for a person to pursue learning the real instrument if they do indeed master ghero guitars. Dont deny the casual fan to be able to rock out to your music. You will have your fans regardless if its an air, fake, or real guitar we play during our leisure moments. I'm one person who definitely enjoyed the thrill of listening to artists i wouldn't normally listen to since i listen to more hiphop an rnb. But i keep an open mind because im a fan of music. Im not goin to be "strumming" for any guitar lessons any time soon but dont deny people the thrill of playing "purple rain" or some other zeppelin classic because of your flawed logic. Whats next? dj are gonna revolt when dj hero comes out? is Tiger Woods or somebody gonna call out EA sports for making a golf game that takes people away from learning real golf? gimme a break~

firebladedx
firebladedx

i feel kinda lame for admitting this, but guitar hero inspired me to learn guitar.I figured the hours I spend on GH, why not put it towards playing these songs i love for real, so I really think these guys need to weigh their options more before dictating what will and has already happened.

Linkman0714
Linkman0714

poo on poeple who say stupid things...just play the games and have fun

BBFan414
BBFan414

Oops, sorry about that, I meant Led Zeppelin

BBFan414
BBFan414

@ Avenger1324: You realize that if Van Halen wanted thier own Guitar Hero, they'd get it in a heartbeat,right?

hungrydinosaur
hungrydinosaur

Firstly, I doubt that guitar hero will ever detract from the number of young people who play the guitar - chicks dig on musicians, not heroes of the plastic guitar :). Secondly, do people really learn about music from guitar hero? It's all big names with big tunes - you learn more from the radio (online or otherwise).

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

serves Activision right for being such pricks

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

Page and Black should be thrilled that a video game can increase the popularity of their music. Their argument only makes sense if they want to be elitist and think that music is somehow reserved only for certain ppl. Music is a universal human language. Prince is also short-sighted, because not everyone CAN play guitar. You have to have a small amount of talent to even learn to play music, and a lot of talent to play it well. If music is about bringing ppl together, then consider rhythm games as just a less musically-gifted way to be included. Could you imagine if track and field athletes complained that the Nintendo Power Pad was dumb because it didn't teach kids how to actually jump over a hurdle? Hey, Prince... just thank your lucky stars that you live in a world where other people actually pay you money for your musical talent. Tens of thousands of other bands would love to just play their music to as many people as you do... for free!

Bgrngod
Bgrngod

Prince's argument makes sense. Page and Black's arguments are stupid.

darklight4
darklight4

i hate people who boast about how good they are on guitar hero learn to play a real instrument and then i wont hate you so much

bumsliepsp
bumsliepsp

The artists have no problem with you buying their records and listening to them, but if you buy them and then play along using fake instruments it is somehow wrong. Interesting. So if I bought a Prince album and then listened to it and did a fake "air" guitar with my hands would he come to my house and take it away? In "Principle" is not the same thing as these games? How else does Jack White expect a 12 year old to hear his music? The radio is a better way to "experience" music? Not actually playing along and really hearing every note like you would in Rock Band or Guitar Hero? I am a musician myself and I have been in quite a few real bands. I sing and play guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, and even the banjo. Anybody that says these games are bad for music are just plain wrong. To capture the interest of kids today the way these games have is just amazing. More instruments are being sold because of these games during a recession. It is just too bad I can't tell any of this to the bands out there like Led Zeppelin, Prince, and the White Stripes. Funny thing is I love those three bands and I wish I could play their songs on Rock Band.

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

oh boo hoo. God forbid musicians have a new way of promoting their music and getting their stuff heard. And they're even paid for it, unlike streaming their music on myspace or some such.

Nogert
Nogert

I play real guitar and played GH for a while, it got to the point where it was just boring but to say it doesn't teach you how to play the guitar is wrong... It improves coordination, speed and rythm, and if you are learning the guitar along side it it's actually a good practise and excersise session for the hand muscles.

stevo_360
stevo_360

Page is the king!! Just saying...

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

I think they're just upset they didn't get offered a game featuring them - then they would be gushing praise on the series.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

They are quite right in that it doesn't allow kids to experience the music but they have to remember that they are just games, casual entertainment. They aren't supposed to replace the joy and achievement of learning to play a real instrument and I would imagine that thanks to these games the amount of kids becoming interested in and wanting to learn them for real has probably increased.

Bob_2097
Bob_2097

I think these musicians are missing the point of games. I play them for fun, not so I can spend x years getting kind of good at them like I would with a real guitar. It's entertainment, just like what they do.

02sfraser
02sfraser

well Guitar Hero doesn't teach your how to play real instruments.... it doesn't claim that. it's just good fun. although i reckon it does help your rhythm :)

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Prince citing "principles" as the deciding factor = "they didn't offer me enough money"

flyingteddy
flyingteddy

rock band and guiter hero aint my bag but you can't deny its success

nextgen-design
nextgen-design

guess we won't be seeing any Zeppelin tunes anytime soon then :(

xstaggerxleex
xstaggerxleex

Jack Whites other band The Racounteers has a track pack on GHWT... wtf is he even commenting about this for when he sold his music too?

ldonyo
ldonyo

Jack White ought to be grateful anyone knows who he is at all. Jimmie Page probably ought to get back into his rocking chair before he falls and breaks a hip. Prince has no principles, so my guess is he wasn't going to be paid what he thinks his "music" is worth.

dkilmurray
dkilmurray

guitar hero has got many people into playing guitar and learning other instruments too it has also brought peopel to like more genres of music other than just what they "like"

55592
55592

So is dancing in a dark suit and glasses to try changing the outcome of nearby events better than playing Elite Beat Agents?

shadowkiller11
shadowkiller11

but guitar hro etc has contributed to kids getting into the music industry and interests. not very smart

Succumbus
Succumbus

But you still aren't playing the actual song on a real guitar, now that's satisfying.

XXL2
XXL2

@Big_K-lashy have you actually played the game.. when you play through something like number of the beast on expert it is extremely satisfying..!

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

@Big_K-lashy. My point is that the people you're referring to (the people that are playing the fake guitar and are not playing real guitar) aren't interested in playing real guitar in the first place. If a person is in fact actually interested in playing guitar, he/she would be playing real guitar, regardless if he/she plays the fake guitar or not. That being said, the people who aren't interested in real guitar may become interested after playing the fake guitar. Like I said, no one in their right mind would believe that playing Guitar Hero is a 100% substitute for playing real guitar. No one that is interested in playing guitar will play Guitar Hero just because of that interest and then believe they're actually playing guitar when they play the game.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

I know of at least 4 people who got into playing guitar thanks to GH and a couple others who started playing drums. What's wrong with more publicity? No offense to Page but if they put that song in GH or RB there's going to be a lot of people who can play it. PS. Stop milking the cow Actvision, maybe that's what's pissing off the musicians.

Harerazer
Harerazer

I can see their point in a way as it pertains to the original Guitar Hero games. Back then it was simply a game of Simon (just like DDR can't teach you to really dance). Nowadays tho with GH: World Tour and Rockband, the difficulties have ramped and the meaning is more in the interactivity. My entire family play Rockband together and I have definitely come to like some music I would have otherwise never havce even given a chance. Now maybe my little $20 here and $20 there may not make these guys rich but if I can be swayed to buy a CD (even if it's 5-10 years old) then I'm sure others can. If Page feels his music needs to stay in that era and that he doesn't need sales of today then God bless him. I always thought that an artist would want their music to get as wide an exposure as possible. Fact is, the music game genre is more than a "game thing" now, it's actually a viable outlet for music as much as soundtracks, commercials, or TV themes are. And as far as playing the "real thing", I don't think anyone goes into a game store thinking "I want to play guitar but it's too hard, I'll get Guitar hero instead".

Big_K-lashy
Big_K-lashy

@artanisxvi. I think his point was more to do with the fact that kids could be learning to play a real guitar rather then playing with a fake plastic one, and if they put all the effort into learning a real one opposed to playing a fake one then that [in his mind] would be more worth while. And I agree, these guitar heros are getting stupid...there is like 7 or something or them now, its stupid holding a little plastic guitar? I fail to see what people get from it.

Ashley_wwe
Ashley_wwe

Jack White's useless random rambling again. Sure, I like him and his music a lot, but he complains about everything.