60 seconds with… Steve Hackett

© Tonsoffun (Mario) Rimati / Demot/Demotix/Corbis

From the GT archives - A minute with a great guitarist is enough to discover what really makes them tick. This time we quiz the legendary Steve Hackett...

Who was your first influence to play the guitar?

Hank Marvin.

What was the first guitar you really lusted after?

A Les Paul.

What was the best gig you ever did?

There have been lots of great gigs from the Dog & Bucket to Madison Square Garden! In a small venue you can take risks as it's not make or break for anyone's career, but it is great when a crowd of thousands is cheering you on.

And your worst playing nightmare?

The first gig I ever did with Genesis at London University when my amp fed back all night, which made me forget nearly everything I learned. I died a thousand deaths of embarrassment and shame but it was an important baptism of fire and a rite of passage.

What's the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?

To always keep going no matter what and to enjoy every gig rather than endure it.

Do you still practise?

Yes I do.

Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine?

I generally find if the hair is right everything else falls into place!

If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be?

My greatest night of the living dead would be Paul Butterfield on harmonica, Keith Moon on drums, John Entwistle on bass, Edith Piaf on vocals and Roger King on keyboards (he has to be regularly dug up every night to perform with the band).

Present company excepted, who's the greatest guitarist ever?

Myself aside, I'd let Jimi Hendrix sit in for a number or two.

Is there a solo by anyone else that you wish you'd played?

Peter Green's version of So Many Roads with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

What's the solo or song of your own that you're most proud of?

There's a piece called The Phoenix Flown on my forthcoming album, Beyond The Shrouded Horizon, on which I feel every note because it's melodic, it's powerful and it really takes me places.

What would you most like to be remembered for?

For being true to my dreams.