John Lennon once famously said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”
No surprise, then, that US rock ’n’ roll provided the principal influences for his early playing style, as well as rockabilly and skiffle. His guitar role during The Beatles’ early years was mainly confined to rhythm, laying down solid grooves, establishing harmonic foundations and providing a backdrop for George Harrison’s infectious riffs and carefully crafted solos.
John mainly played electric, but he also played acoustic on both ballads and up-tempo numbers, using simple eighth-note strum patterns copied from early rock ’n’ rollers like Buddy Holly. The most important part of recreating John’s style is to play aggressively, and to pay attention to the way he uses minor chords, often in major progressions.