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 8th 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 and was classmates with Laura Nyro and Michael Kamen and in 1963, as a sixteen-year-old, 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 was a music teacher in Ohio. Upon his return to New York, he began working as a staff musician for the Musicor record company. He began recording with some 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 was signed to 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, and hired Randall's band to perform the music. It was there that Randall met guitarist Vinnie Bell, who was experimenting with various electronic effects. Randall began to dabble in electronics as well, and whenever Bell was unable to make a gig, he recommended Randall.
In 1972, Randall left New York for California. It was then that he reunited with Becker and Fagen, as well as 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 had a history of turning down permanent gigs, instead favoring being a session musician. 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 cause a dissolution of the band after the third album, which ultimately happened. Randall later played with Steely Dan on their fourth and fifth albums, Katy Lied and The Royal Scam. In 1980, Randall was approached by John Belushi and asked to be the musical director for The Blues Brothers, a position which he also turned down. Jeff Porcaro and David Paich offered Randall the chance to be a founding member of Toto, which he rejected.
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 the areas of musical instrument and amplifier development, recording & sampling technology, software design, and education.
Recent projects include recording and production, as well as consultancy on streaming Internet content. Randall is currently recording a new CD in London, New York, and Ireland which blends together Celtic, Afro-Cuban and other global musical influences. He recorded and plays with his London-based "Posse" and his 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 plays through a Fender Super Reverb on many occasions. 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!"