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GUITAR HERO

Who: Robin Trower with Strange Vine

When: 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25

Where: Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma

Tickets: $60

Information: 707-765-2121, mystictheatre.com


After the untimely death of guitarist Jimi Hendrix in 1970, the rock world started seeking a worthy successor.

Before long, guitar wizard Robin Trower was being hailed as “the next Hendrix,” an apt label in some ways, given his dexterity on the instrument.

“It’s a great compliment to be compared to somebody who definitely had a touch of genius,” Trower said in a phone interview in April.

“There’s no doubt that he was a big influence on me, especially in those early days,” he added: “I was writing a lot of my own thing as well, and I think that got overlooked a little bit.”

A native of London, Trower spent the late 1960s and early ’70s as the guitarist for the band Procol Harum, then launched his own power trio in 1973.

Perhaps best known for 1974’s “Bridge of Sighs” album, Trower has crafted songs that aren’t just virtuosity on six strings — they’re emotional journeys that transport the listener.

Here’s a typical YouTube post about Trower: “He will be regarded as one of the best guitarists/arrangers that U.K. has ever produced,” said Tony Whitmore. “This guy plays a spiritual guitar — just listen how clean the notes are.”

With songs like “Long Misty Days” and “Spellbound,” Trower isn’t demonstrating how fast he can play, he’s taking his time, entering territory that’s haunting and moving.

On those early collections bassist James Dewar handled the vocals, but on Trower’s recent albums, such as the just-released “Time and Emotion,” he sings his own songs. (Dewar died in 2002.)

The new songs are “much too personal to me to have another singer sing them,” Trower said, adding that he believes some types of songs have more “integrity” when sung by the person who wrote them.

Trower, who plays at Petaluma’s Mystic Theatre on May 25, said being called the next Hendrix didn’t cause him to feel pressure because he’s long felt confident about the uniqueness of his work and didn’t copy other artists’ licks.

“Once you start copying it gets into your system and may dampen down your own creativity,” he said. “It may get in the way of you being able to say what you’ve got to say.”

When aspiring guitarists ask for words of wisdom, “that’s the advice I always give,” he said. “It may take longer to get somewhere by not learning other people’s licks, but in the end what you end up with hopefully is something of your own.”

Trower, 72, remains grateful to his early influences, not just Hendrix but also B.B. King and Albert King, bluesmen “who were so soulful,” he said.

“I was always fascinated by what was behind the notes, what made them play the notes in that particular way rather than the actual technical side of it.”

Few guitarists can sustain a note as long and as precisely as Trower can, which gives his slow songs poignancy and delicacy. Fellow guitarists admire the tone of his guitar, but he says most of his sound comes from the instrument itself.

Trower plays a Stratocaster, a guitar he discovered by chance early in his career, courtesy of Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre.

GUITAR HERO

Who: Robin Trower with Strange Vine

When: 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25

Where: Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma

Tickets: $60

Information: 707-765-2121, mystictheatre.com

“I was on tour with Procol Harum. We were supporting Jethro Tull, and at soundcheck one day (I picked up) Martin’s spare guitar,” he said.

“I should have asked him first, really, but I picked it up and plugged it into my amp and immediately I was hooked. I just loved the voicing of it. It’s got a human quality to the voice.”

Trower makes some adjustments to get a sound that best fits his songs.

“About 20, 25 years ago I started tuning the guitar down a whole step so I could use heavier strings and get a fatter sound,” he said.

Trower uses “very high action” (strings high off the fretboard) so that “the strings ring properly. You can’t manufacture the sound from pedals or amps or anything.”

This produces “a better sound but is more difficult to play. You have to work harder at it, but once you’ve been doing it a while you get used to it.”

Trower has shown a knack for getting a big sound out of a relatively small band. He says he’s long felt most comfortable with a trio — Trower plays lead guitar and continues to tour with a bassist and drummer.

Overdubs and special effects don’t interest him much: “It hasn’t felt necessary with the stuff I’m coming up with,” he said.

Looking back on his 50-year career, Trower may not have become the next Hendrix, but that wasn’t his intention — it was a label thrust upon him.

I think I’ve done a lot of music that’s unique to me,” he said. “I think I’m keeping a certain kind of rock ’n roll alive.”

Michael Shapiro is author of “A Sense of Place.” He writes about travel and entertainment for national magazines and The Press Democrat.