Yannis Spathas

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Yannis Spathas
Born Greece
Genres blues-rock, psychedelic rock, folk
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar synthesizer
Years active 1969 – present
Labels Polydor, Vertigo
Associated acts Socrates Drank The Conium (later Socrates)
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul Custom, Gibson Les Paul Standard, Roland GR-505 Guitar Synthesizer

Yannis Spathas is a Greek rock, blues and folk guitarist and composer who was best known for his lead guitar work with the Greek rock band Socrates Drank The Conium in the early 1970s.

Born at Paxoi (Ionian Islands) in 1950, Spathas made his first musical debuts playing accordion, classical guitar and drums with his uncles in his father's band during his childhood. At the age of 15, he began studying Jimi Hendrix and blues-rock, as well as folk anthems with clarinetist Tasos Chalkias. He continued to study Cretan serenades, rebetiko and traditional music from India and the Balkan countries before learning music theory and counterpoint under the guidance of Kostas Klavvas few years later.

His style is very similar to that of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and some of Tony Iommi's bluesier music. Of these, Hendrix's influence was probably the greatest, evidenced mainly by the fact that Socrates Drank the Conium covered several of his songs at their early concerts in the clubs of Athens, Greece, where they were discovered.

As a session musician and arranger, Spathas has played and toured with other famous artists such as Giannis Markopoulos, Mikis Theodorakis, Vangelis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Manos Hadjidakis, Alkinoos Ioannidis, George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Eleni Vitali and Vassilis Lekkas on their major concerts in Greece, Europe, USA and Canada. His relationship with Lekkas yielded three albums, "Syntoma Oneira" (Brief Dreams, 1989), "Klassika Ikonografimena" (Illustrated Classics, 1991) and "Spinthiras" (Spikes, 2007), in conjunction with lyricists Evgenios Aranitsis (on the first two albums) and Lina Nikolakopoulou.

Guitars and style[edit]

Like several of his most prominent influences (Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix), Spathas produced his blues-rock/hard rock sound with two sunburst Fender Stratocasters (a mid-1960s rosewood-neck and an early 1970s maple-neck with large headstock), a cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard, a black Les Paul Custom and a Candy Apple Red Roland GR-505 guitar synthesizer controller fitted with three active EMG SA single-coil pickups, as well as a pedalboard that included a GR-700 guitar synthesizer bank, a GR-300 polyphonic synthesizer unit, a VG-88 guitar modeler and a PG-200 floor box. In addition to electric guitars and guitar synthesizers, Spathas also uses a variety of Ovation, Guild, Larrivée acoustic guitars and Marshall amplifiers.


Spathas' way of playing was characterized by speed, fluency and cleanness, much like Deep Purple's guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore. It is also highly reminiscent of the melodic playing of Tony Iommi, lead guitar of Black Sabbath. Despite his confessed love for Hendrix's music, his musical style, and moreover his touch while playing, reminds one of the great British guitarist Ollie Halsall, during those years playing with Patto and then with John Hiseman's Tempest (where he substituted for Alan Holdsworth in the late 1973). Spathas can be considered one of the most talented, original, unfortunately unknown, guitarists in Europe during the '70s, maybe the most "guitaristic" decade for rock & roll music.