The Artists and their Gear

Hardest Working Players on Earth- Rick Vito

By Joe Leach | September 30, 2016

Not going to lie…I’ve been “name dropping” all week. And that’s because I work around guitar players all day and I have had the pleasure of interviewing some of the greatest players in the industry this last month, including Rick Vito. But I rub it in as nicely as I can of course.

In speaking to Rick I was struck, as I have been with the other players in this series, by the absolute sincerity and honesty with which he spoke about his career and his personal views on being a guitar player. It was the kind of real-life humility that literally gave me goose bumps.

What’s the hardest part of this industry? To paraphrase Rick, it’s getting “there.“ And by “there” he meant to that place you want to be in your career. The hard work lies in everything you do- learning, playing, marketing and making as many connections as you can.

While he admits that at times he felt as if the real limelight had escaped him, he is steadfast in his belief that what matters most is a player’s happiness with their own playing. You have to work to get to that point where you can feel confident in what you are doing.

His advice to aspiring musicians?

“Believe in yourself…don’t listen to those devil voices.” His point is that along the way there will be some very harsh critics, most of them in your own head. He continued on to say “Be original. Find that one thing you’re really good at. Develop unique playing, vocal and songwriting styles.”

Like most guitar players Rick started pretty young and was fortunate to have a teacher who introduced him to players like James Burton and Chuck Berry, influences – among others- that are still with him today, enhanced by an eternal curiosity to keep trying different things.

Rick got “there,” no doubt, as a member of Fleetwood Mac and playing with Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall, Jackson Browne and a score of other major acts throughout his career. He talked about how much he enjoys and appreciates the fans. He added (with a big smile, I sensed) that it’s only getting better as his career goes on.

Rick plays his signature Rick Vito Model that has evolved over time. His history with Reverend goes back to his days of playing with Bonnie Raitt, when on the tour he noticed Jeff Ross (another incredible players-player) slinging one of Joe Naylor’s original Reverend guitars with lipstick pickups. Rick got a hold of Joe to tell him that he was interested in a Reverend guitar. After a few discussions and some pickup swaps, Rick became – and remains - one of Reverend’s most prolific artist endorsees. Soon after, Reverend designed the first Rick Vito signature model that donned images from a coat that Rick had hand painted [see inset.] When the line-up changed in 2010, Rick and Reverend worked out a new signature model, which is the one you see today.

I truly cherished this opportunity to talk with Rick and sincerely thank him for his time and incredible inspiration.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, for those of you who may not know. That incredible slide guitar solo you hear in the Bob Seger/ Chevy Trucks “Like a Rock” anthem? Yep, that’s Rick!