Alter Bridge's Mark Tremonti: 5 essential guitar albums

Mark Tremonti
(Image credit: Paul Bergen / Getty Images)

Below, Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti runs down his choices for five essential guitar albums. 

“I consider these records to be the building blocks as far as my being a rock and metal guitarist,” he says. “They’re all classics, but they’ve really been important influences for me as I came up as a player.”

AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)

“This was such a critical record for AC/DC, because it was something of their comeback record after Bon Scott’s death. I remember devouring it and loving it when I was a kid. Angus Young is an amazing guitarist. To an outsider, one might think that he plays straightforward stuff, but he’s got such feel.

“The vocals, from Bon Scott to Brian Johnson, have always been incredible. The songwriting on this album has a simple beauty to it that’s just genius. But it’s all wrapped around monster riffs and memorable solos. I consider AC/DC to be one of the two best rock bands of all time.”

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)

“Other than Kashmir not being on it, this is Led Zeppelin’s most incredible album. It’s got Rock And Roll, Going to California, Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven on it – the whole thing is insane. If you were to buy one rock record in the world, this is the one to get. Led Zeppelin are, in my opinion, the best rock band that’s ever existed.

“There’s the cool, classic fingerstyle stuff on Stairway, and of course there’s riffs for days all over the record. Jimmy Page is the master of loose rock playing. It’s all about feel with him – he’s got swagger. You can hear such attitude in his guitar work. Not many people can pull that kind of thing off. He’s one of the greatest composers on the guitar, not just for guitar parts but for songs, as well.”

Boston – Boston (1976)

“To this day, every time More Than a Feeling comes on the radio, I just have to crank it up. I love this record through and through. If you go through it and play every track, you might not know every title, but you know the song because it’s been played on the radio so much. It’s part of our DNA.

“It sounded different from everything else at the time, and a lot of that comes down to Tom Scholz’s unique guitar tone. He was this electronics wizard and he created his own effects; he worked on his own for years recording this stuff. The guy is a true pioneer. A lot of what he developed is what we use today.”

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)

“From top to bottom, it’s one of the most solid rock records ever made. It was such a game-changer when it came out. The whole hair-metal thing was getting a little silly toward the end, and then GNR came out annihilated everything.

“I couldn’t stop playing it, and I couldn’t get enough of the videos. I remember being in a car with my father and Welcome to the Jungle came on. We were both blown away. Every song on the record is pretty phenomenal.”

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970)

“These are the guys who started it all for the scene I love the most. It’s hard to pick just one Black Sabbath record – all my favourite songs are spread out – but I’ll go with the debut album. Nobody had this sound before Tony Iommi. It’s almost like he and the band were possessed by some dark spirit, and this is the result.

“A lot of the metal that followed, like black metal, was directly influenced by Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi‘s riffs are and his guitar tone are so scary and gloomy. If anybody ever asks, ‘What does heavy sound like?’, this is the answer.”

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.