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Power trio

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Title: Power trio  
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Subject: Motörhead, Triumph (band), Jack Bruce, May Blitz, Teahouse/Questions/Archive 110
Collection: Musical Terminology, Musical Trios, Rock Music Groups
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Power trio

The Jimi Hendrix Experience—A Quintessential Power Trio

A power trio is a rock and roll band format having a lineup of guitar, bass and drums, leaving out the second guitar or keyboard that are used in other rock music quartets and quintets to fill out the sound with chords. While one or more band members typically sing, power trios emphasize instrumental performance and overall impact over vocals and lyrics.[1]


The rise of the power trio in the 1960s was made possible in part by developments in blues rock incarnation, is also generally held to have developed out of Chicago-style blues bands such as Muddy Waters' trio.

In addition to technology improvements the other impetus for the power trio was the virtuosity of guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Rory Gallagher who could essentially cover both the rhythm guitar and lead guitar roles in a live performance. The first and prototypical power trio was the band Cream[2] consisting of Eric Clapton on guitar/vocals, Jack Bruce on bass/vocals, and Ginger Baker on drums. Other influential 1960s-era blues rock/hard rock power trio bands were The Jimi Hendrix Experience,[3] Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad,[4] The James Gang featuring Joe Walsh, and Taste.[5] Well-known 1970s-era power trios include the Canadian progressive rock group Rush, the American band ZZ Top,[6] the British heavy metal band Motörhead, and Robin Trower. The band Emerson Lake and Palmer while replacing the guitarist for a keyboardist is usually considered as a power trio as Emerson fulfills the rhythm and lead playing on the keyboards that would fall on the guitarist, while the bassist Greg Lake is the vocalist.

After the 1970s the phrase "power trio" tended to be applied to just about any three-piece rock bands. These bands include New Wave groups like The Police,[7] grunge band Nirvana, post punk band Hüsker Dü, hard rock/progressive metal band King's X, post-grunge band Silverchair, alternative bands The Presidents of the United States of America, Primus and Eve 6, and pop-punk bands such as Green Day and Blink-182. Also, by the 1990s, rock trios began to form around different instrumentation, from the band Morphine featured a baritone saxophone instead of an electric guitar, while Ben Folds Five replaced the guitar with various keyboards, principally the piano.

See also

  • Hammond organ
  • Power duo: two-piece rock band often described as a power trio without the bassist


  1. ^ Larson, Tom (2004). History of Rock and Roll. Kendall/Hunt. p. 183.  
  2. ^ Hoffman, Frank (2004). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, Volume 1 (2 ed.).  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Olsen, Andrew. "An Interview with Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Cariappa, Shiv (January 8, 1997). "Interview With Gerry McAvoy". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 June 2013. In the late 1960's, two music groups, Taste and Cream, blazed trails as definitive examples of rock's power-trios. 
  6. ^ UPI (December 11, 1974). "New Rock Music Trio Coming on Strong". The Dispatch. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Clark, Dick (July 15, 1983). "The Police: An Arresting Power Trio". Milwaukee Record-Journal. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
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