Influential Guitar Author and Editor Tom Wheeler Dies at 70

Tom Wheeler, the widely influential guitar author and former editor of Guitar Player magazine, has died at the age of 70.

The news was announced via an email from Dean Juan-Carlos Molleda of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, where Wheeler served as a professor of journalism. The announcement was further relayed in an article on the Guitar Player website.

Wheeler became the editor of the magazine in the late '70s. He was instrumental in developing the voice and style with which players wrote and discussed the guitar and its culture. As the only guitar-focused magazine of its time, Wheeler's work helped establish a lexicon and canon for the guitar-playing public that has been maintained and expanded in the years since. Indeed, the entire lineage of guitar writing up through today's massive landscape of blogs and websites can be traced to Wheeler's influence.

Beyond his work in magazine publishing, Wheeler was an equally influential author of books about guitars. The Guitar Book: A Handbook for Electric and Acoustic Guitarists from 1978 and American Guitars: An Illustrated History from 1982 are two classic entries in a bibliography that also includes titles like The Stratocaster Chronicles and The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps with forwards by Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.

As a professor at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Wheeler's impact found new root as a teacher and mentor to students over the course of 25 years. According to an article posted by the University's newspaper, the Daily Emerald, Wheeler was an impassioned instructor who always took extra interest in his students' work and always took extra time to steer their journalistic growth and careers.

"I was shocked to hear of Tom's untimely death," said Reverb contributor and widely published guitar author, Tony Bacon. "I liked Tom for his generous spirit, I admired his professional attitude and stylistic flair—and I know that the world of guitar literature is going to be a lesser place without him.”


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