One of the most “growing” and mature things anyone can do who is a guitarist is to learn about truly being a “team player” within any band you’re in. This was something that was obvious to me once I really started becoming a “sideman” as opposed to a “front man” in the earlier part of my career. The “team” aspect of the equation is not only a musical situation, but it’s also a psychological issue that has so much to do with how you relate to the other players in the band.
The “team” aspect has so much to do with being supportive of the other players, praising when praise is due, and also, as I do many times, taking a player, such as another guitarist, under my “wing.” This can pay you back in droves, and is always a good thing that reaps many rewards for you, for sure. Of course, this all doesn’t mean you have to give up taking solos, or stepping out into the limelight, but it means that no matter what you might be contributing, it’s done in a spirit that always is done for the betterment of the “whole”. If we look into the history of some of the best bands with obvious “leaders” we can still see how these folks were also “team” players in the truest of spirits. Examine John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater, or Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. Sure, these are all guitarists and front men who went on to great solo careers, but their initial success was in bands where they shined for sure, but also bands that operated well together as a “whole”.
I can remember touring with Huey Lewis and The News, a great bunch of guys, and there was never a sense that Huey was ever more than one of the band members. Of course, he was heaped with affection from the fans, but what made them truly “cool” as a band, was that they actually came off more as a band, as opposed to a band that was backing up a lead singer. You can even tell the friendship that exists between them all, whether onstage, or even back stage, where after each and every show we would all hang out and sing “doo-wop” a capella harmonies. The camaraderie and friendship that was there was so undeniable, it made you proud just to be hanging out with them!
So this skill and effect of being a true “team player” is really honed right from the very start. Take note of what others do, praise them for it, make your criticisms truly constructive, and try to do it all in a positive manner. In the same way, don’t let others forcibly and nastily not allow “team” playing. This should be a true “red flag” of an individual who will be hard to get along with, and someone who in the long run will hurt the overall “team” effort! So, beware of the pitfalls, but for sure, accentuate the positive as much as you can, while eliminating the negative! Best of luck to you and your “team!”