Elliott Randall (born 1947) is an American guitarist, best known for being a session musician with popular artists. Randall played the well-known guitar solos from Steely Dan's song Reelin' in the Years and Fame. It was reported that Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page said Randall's solo on Reelin' in the Years is his favorite guitar solo of all-time. The solo was ranked as the 40th best guitar solo of all-time by the readers of Guitar World magazine and the eighth best guitar solo by Q4 Music.
Randall began taking piano lessons at age five. At nine, in 1956, he switched to guitar. He attended New York City's High School of Music & Art, where he was classmates with Laura Nyro and Michael Kamen. In 1963, at sixteen, Randall met Richie Havens in Greenwich Village and began gigging. Randall did some early work behind The Capris and The Ronnettes, and by 1964 was recording "small-time" demos.
Between 1966 and 1967, he taught music in Ohio. Returning to New York, he began working as a staff musician for the Musicor record company. He began recording with friends around 1968, including Tim Rose, and made demo recordings with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker—who at the time were with Jay and the Americans. In 1969, he joined the band Seatrain, opting for that band rather than joining Wilson Pickett in Muscle Shoals. In 1970, Randall signed with the Robert Stigwood Organization, which managed Cream, The Bee Gees, John Mayall, and The Staple Singers. He formed a band called Randall's Island, which recorded a few albums on Polydor.
In 1972, The Stigwood Organization bought the rights to Jesus Christ Superstar and produced the show on Broadway. They hired Randall's band to perform the music. There, Randall met guitarist Vinnie Bell, who was experimenting with various electronic effects. Randall began to dabble in electronics as well, and whenever Bell couldn't make a gig, he recommended Randall.
In 1972, Randall left New York for California. He reunited with Becker, Fagen, and childhood friend Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, and recorded the first Steely Dan album, Can't Buy a Thrill. Randall's guitar work on Reelin' in the Years became popular as the song became a chart success, and soon, as the solo gained fame and respect, Randall began getting calls from other artists.
Randall has had a history of turning down permanent gigs, instead favoring session work. He did become a touring member of ShaNaNa in 1974, exiting amicably in 1975. Becker and Fagen asked Randall to become a permanent member of Steely Dan, but Randall politely declined, as he felt that the band's dynamics would make the band dissolve after the third album—which happened. Later, Randall played with Steely Dan on their fourth and fifth albums, Katy Lied and The Royal Scam. In 1980, John Belushi asked Randall to be musical director for The Blues Brothers, a position he also turned down. Jeff Porcaro and David Paich offered Randall the chance to be a founding member of Toto, and he rejected that too.
As a session player, Randall played with artists such as The Doobie Brothers, Tom Rush, Elkie Brooks, Carly Simon, Carl Wilson, Peter Wolf, Peter Frampton, James Galway, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and The American Symphony Orchestra, among many others. He was also a music consultant for Saturday Night Live and Oliver Stone and did projects with producers Gary Katz, David Kershenbaum, The Tokens, Steve Lillywhite, Eddie Kramer and Jerry Wexler. A full list of artists and producers with whom Randall has recorded can be found at elliott-randall.com.
In addition to artistic projects, Elliott has also played, produced, and composed myriad advertisements (jingles) for television, radio and cinema, for clients including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Miller Beer, Budweiser, Cadillac, Ford, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, CitiBank, General Mills, Nabisco, Procter & Gamble, MTV, ESPN, CBS, ABC, BBC-TV and countless others. Since the advent of midi in the early 1980s, Randall has worked as independent consultant for a wide range of companies—including Akai, Roland, Korg, and Yamaha—in musical instrument and amplifier development, recording and sampling technology, software design, and education.
Randall's recent projects include recording, production, and consulting on streaming Internet content. He is currently recording a new CD in London, New York, and Ireland that blends Celtic, Afro-Cuban, and other global musical influences. He recorded and plays with his London-based band Posse and NYC-based Randall's Rangers.
Randall appeared as a guest at London's Hammersmith Apollo on July 1, 2009 with Steely Dan to play lead guitar on Reelin' in the Years. Many clips of this performance are on YouTube.
Randall plays a 1963 Fender Stratocaster. The neck pickup is a 1969 Gibson Humbucker. He often plays through a Fender Super Reverb. He was listed as an endorser for Dimarzio pickups in the company's product brochure circa 1981.
In an article in Guitar Player Magazine (July 2007) Randall was asked what rig he used to record the solo on Reelin' in the Years. He states, "That was my '63 Fender Stratocaster with a PAF humbucker in the neck position, straight into an Ampeg SVT bass amp. The SVT wouldn't have been my first choice for an amp--or even my fifth choice--but it worked a storm on that recording!" (wikipedia)