Megadeth's Kiko Loureiro: 10 guitarists that changed my life

Kiko Loureiro Megadeth
(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

We all know Kiko Loureiro as the newest lead guitarist of Megadeth, but there’s so much more to the Brazilian maestro than that. Before joining Dave Mustaine’s thrash whirlwind in 2015, he was already a decorated solo artist with four instrumental albums. 

So, it should be no surprise that Kiko was inspired by the greats of rock shredding, from Eddie Van Halen to Steve Vai. We sat down with him for a run-through of his greatest six-string influences.

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1. Jimmy Page

“At my school, I used to go to the library and get vinyl LPs by Led Zeppelin. My parents are not into this kind of music, but I think I knew the ballads and Stairway To Heaven, so I thought: ‘OK! Led Zeppelin!’ I was fascinated by the entire band, but especially the guitars: the acoustics, the solos – the whole thing! My first guitar teacher, the first riff that he taught me was Black Dog. That was my first guitar lesson! So, Jimmy Page is a player that I’ve always loved.”

2. Tony Iommi 

“Tony Iommi is the founding father of the heavy metal style of guitar playing. He has all of my respect for that. I started listening to Black Sabbath around the same time that I discovered Led Zeppelin; I was 13. I listened to Sabbath for the riffs, not so much the solos, although some of the solos are very memorable. Because I’m still playing heavy metal after all of these years, he deserves to be on this list.”

3. Ritchie Blackmore

“I found Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers in the school library as well. Deep Purple are one of those bands you have to listen to. You have Smoke On The Water, and then those long guitar solos, like on Made In Japan. Blackmore had that classical thing. Iommi would play a pentatonic rock ’n’ roll kind of thing, and not even Page would play the way Blackmore played those arpeggios. His duets with Jon Lord were magical! I knew, ‘That’s what I wanna do. I wanna play that!’”

4. Eddie Van Halen

“Eddie Van Halen was really, really important when I was learning to play guitar. He got me interested in playing fast and technical, but I think what makes him one of the best is his groove. It’s very hard to copy how he plays. If you think about it, Tony Iommi is very ‘square’; the way he plays is very metal, very serious. Van Halen felt fluid. His father [Jan Van Halen] was a jazz piano player, so maybe he grew up listening to that jazz swing and then applied it to rock.”

5. Steve Vai

“When I was 16 and 17 in the late ’80s, there were a bunch of great solo guitar players, like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Steve Vai was a virtuoso with some interesting compositions and great technique. It felt like the next step after Van Halen; he took the Van Halen stuff and just played it faster! He had albums full of guitars, like a guitar orchestra, with so many layers of guitar. And look at his career: he’s stayed relevant for 30 or 40 years playing instrumental albums, which is not an easy thing to do.”

6. Joe Satriani

“I’m a big fan of Satriani because of his melodies. He could make his guitar sing, like a voice! That takes a lot of control. Satriani was definitely my generation: he made Surfing With The Alien [in 1987] and I got the chance to go to many, many concerts. Nowadays, we have a friendship. I’ve got deep respect for him for having such a long career playing instrumental music. I’ve got a deep respect for all of the songwriting, as well.”

7. Jeff Beck

“I discovered Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Jeff Beck at around the same time. When I started soloing and learning scales, and got more into the guitar world, I started listening to those players. By then, Jeff Beck was already a legend. He has such a special control over his instrument and the way he plays. Every time I listen to Jeff Beck, as a guitarist, I can hear the perfection of his performances, right down to the finest detail. His albums Blow By Blow and Wired, produced by George Martin, were beautiful! Beautiful production, musicianship and songwriting.”

8. Allan Holdsworth

“My guitar teacher was a big fan of Allan Holdsworth, so I got to know him through him. I bought some of his vinyls and I didn’t understand what I was listening to. But I remembered, in interviews, Eddie Van Halen says that Holdsworth was his hero, so that’s pretty impressive! I wanted to listen to Van Halen’s hero! It was interesting music; I forced myself into it and then I really liked it. I got the chance to meet Allan. I had great conversations with him and he was a very inspiring person.”

9. Randy Rhoads

“When I think about solos for Megadeth, I picture Randy Rhoads. He has both the metal vibe and a classical Blackmore sound, in a way. He has the same acoustic and classical guitar background that I have, as well. I used to live next to Randy Rhoads’ sister. We were in the same neighbourhood and I’d see her with her dog. Her granddaughter used to be in the same class as my daughter. But that’s more recent. Randy’s solos are so well-built and amazing, but still metal.”

10. Yngwie Malmsteen

“When I heard Yngwie Malmsteen for the first time, he was so much faster than everybody else. He was so fluid and clean and perfect! He had that neoclassical thing going on as well: Van Halen weren’t neoclassical and Randy Rhoads had it, but Malmsteen took it to a different level. The speed, the tone, the vibrato – he had all the tricks. It was unbelievable. I tried to play Far Beyond The Sun, like, forever! I tried to play it over and over and I wasn’t ready; it was too difficult.”

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.