Myles Kennedy: The Soundtrack Of My Life

Myles Kennedy sitting on a porch next to a guitar
(Image credit: Chuck Brueckmann)

Myles Kennedy is among today’s finest hard rock vocalists, with both Alter Bridge and with Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators. But that shouldn’t obscure the varied musical background the singer/guitarist drew on for two autobiographical solo records, 2018's Year of the Tiger and 2021's The Ides of March. Indeed, his first rock band, the Mayfield Four, followed time in two jazz-influenced groups, Cosmic Dust and Citizen Swing.

Below, Myles Kennedy talks Classic Rock through his diverse musical life.


The first music I remember hearing

Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street, performing Superstition. That may be one of the most memorable experiences I had, period, as a young person. I was about four. I remember thinking: “I don’t understand what this is, but this is so cool.” I was intrigued, and didn’t know what to make of it, but knew that it was something special. 

A record I associate with my mum

When I think about my mom [who raised Kennedy alone from age four after his dad’s death], I think about a cassette of songs by [ragtime king] Scott Joplin that had been my late father’s. I remember hearing that a lot in the house. For whatever reason, I kept listening to it, years later. My little brother and I loved jazz, and went on to study it at school. 

The best live album

Because I was at the point of my life as a young rock’n’roller when I had started doing my first gigs when I heard it, Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. A classmate of mine turned me on to the band one day at lunch, in seventh or eighth grade [aged 12 or 13], and part of what intrigued me was his Eddie T-shirt. It was very compelling for a young person. And the music more than backs up the imagery.

The first song I performed live

Rock And Roll by Led Zeppelin. I was fourteen, and I was as captivated by Led Zeppelin as I’d been by Stevie Wonder ten years earlier. That fascination had begun around that age, when I heard the intro to Whole Lotta Love. It was a pivotal moment where I stopped what I was doing and went: “What was that?” And then it got to the middle section, with those freaky sex sounds, and it sounded so dangerous and erotic and cool. 

My guitar hero

I always go back to Jimmy Page. Because he’s a riff master, and for his ability as a composer. I love that music. I’m sitting here on my day off today and I’m playing blues.

The worst record I made

The first Mayfield Four record, Fallout. I should have spent more time writing and recording for that. It taught me that you should have lots of songs. We turned in the demos, and even the A&R guy said: “What do you mean you’ve only got these fifteen songs? You’ve got to have many, many, many more to pick the gems from!”

My cult hero

Sturgill Simpson. He’s part of this movement of a handful of really cool country artists who are taking it back to the country that a lot of us grew up listening to. But he’s not just rehashing that approach, he’s pushing the envelope, which he clearly did on A Sailor’s Guide To Earth. I think Sturgill Simpson is one of the finest songwriters today. It’s his lyrics. I listen to a guy who’s that poetic and wish I had half his talent.

My favourite singer

Just for the sound of her beautiful, incredible voice, k.d. lang.

My Saturday night song

September by Earth Wind And Fire just makes me want to party.

The song that makes me cry

I’m an easy crier when it comes to music. The piece that is my favourite, but I almost can’t listen to it because I will sob within the first few bars, is Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto In C-minor. It’s so beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking. Even talking about it is getting me a little broken up. 

The greatest album of all time

What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. Not just because it’s a good record, but also because he took a huge chance. [Motown Records executive] Berry Gordy didn’t want him to make a socially conscious record, but at that point in the world we needed a record like that. Frankly we could do with a record like that right now.

My favourite songwriter

Paul McCartney. His melodic sense is something that’s always got a future. I think he and The Beatles will be remembered in the same way we remember Mozart.

The song I want played at my funeral

I have thought that far ahead. I want All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. I don’t want it to be a sombre affair. I want that truth to be sung. I agree with it. I’ve seen what that four-letter word does at first hand. Meeting my wife and what she has done for me as a human being, and ultimately the love that she gave me, saved me. Did she open up something in me, and let me love? Absolutely. I’d gone in a hole, and had become very doubtful that anything like that actually existed, outside of family. I’d become jaded, and she made me aware that love’s very real.

Alter Bridge have festival dates lined up throughout the summer. See the band's website for details.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).