Look Ma, No Guitar! Rock's Latest Oddity, Air Guitarists, Swing Without Axes

UPDATED 03/05/1984 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/05/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

It's arbitrary and unfair. You can grimace, you can sweat. You can leap and duckwalk, and you know that if someone would just give you a chance, you could light a Fender Stratocaster on fire and smash it into a wall of 10,000-watt amps. In short, you know you've got everything it takes to be a great rock guitarist, except for one thing. You haven't got the faintest idea how to play guitar. Not only that, you don't even own a guitar.

If that's your problem, relax.

The latest fringe musical fad, air guitar—in which aficionados mime guitar-hero antics to the accompaniment of a favorite LP—allows any nebbish to play like Springsteen, Clapton or Hendrix, blindfolded. A grass-roots art once confined to adolescent bedrooms, air guitaring has lately become the subject of local contests and a new manual, The Complete Air Guitar Handbook (Pocket Books, $2.95) by Mike Moffitt, 35, a Tampa photographer, and John McKenna, 30, a Minneapolis movie marketer who has seen Bruce Springsteen in concert 63 times.

In addition to citing Great Moments in Air Guitar History (Neil Young in The Last Waltz; Joe Cocker, anytime) the guide explains how to tune an air guitar ("with an air piano") and lists equipment (air amps, mirrors) and acceptable guitar substitutes (tennis rackets, yes; chain saws, no). Alas, lack of musical knowledge alone is no guarantee of success; air guitarists, the authors note, need not even have "the brains of a begonia" to succeed.

Flush with the modest success of the Handbook, Moffitt and McKenna are already at work on a second manual, in which they will show readers how to improve their social skills by practicing with pneumatic dolls. Their tentative title: I'm OK, You're Inflatable.

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters