OK, so we know that the phrase 'guitar hero' should never be used anymore. It's a concept of the past, probably the '70s but certainly the '80s. Popular press doesn't like the phrase and that's fine. The question of terminology can be debated. However the concept of an iconic guitar figure who influences the way we play hasn't gone away no matter how cool you want to be about it. How come everyone sounds the same these days? They must be following somebody's initial lead.
In the '70s the UK produced a pile of great guitar players who influenced the whole world: Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Gary Moore, Eric Clapton, Tony Iommi, just to mention a few that come to mind. These people shaped the way rock guitar sounded and then into the '80s came the Americans, Van Halen leading the way that eventually lead to Vai, Satriani, etc.
What happened to Britain? When did we give up? Can you seriously name a British rock guitar player who has had any lasting influence who came out of the last twenty or even twenty five years? There hasn't been anyone.
Maverick guitars went out on a clinic tour in 2001. They took Neil Brocklebank with them to show that we do still have players who can and want to play. They asked hardcore guitar fans all over the UK the question in the previous paragraph and not once did they hear a convincing answer. OK, so Slash was born British but left for the US when he was about six! You could argue that Oasis influenced a lot of people but hardly in terms of guitar playing in the way we are talking about. Maybe Matt Bellamy could be argued for, or the guy from The Stone Roses but again we aren't really talking about the kind of player we used to produce. The only credible answer Maverick heard was John Sykes for his work on the 1984 Whitesnake album.
Even if you can rack your brain and come up with a name it's still only one and probably open to serious debate. Also today it is absolutely still the case. We do not have any great rock players here who actually are out there. There are players like Guthrie Govan who has all the ability to do so and may well go from strength to strength but him aside, in general it's looking on the whole pretty damned poor. Say what you like about Brocklebank but he's out there trying to get people back into guitar as we knew it. And it will happen sooner or later. No one supports great guitar playing anymore but there are so many people out there who want it. No one has any courage to try because there's no mould to pour themselves into. There's no one to emulate and maintain a 'safety in numbers' attitude. Take a look at 'Stone Sour' - the Slipknot spin-off. Guitar solos like you have never heard on an album for years. Still firmly based in the drop D metal vibe but they have put their neck on the block and not been afraid to play real guitar solos. It takes someone just to do it and others will follow. But again they are American. Why can't the British do it?
We have supported Neil Brocklebank through many ups and downs because of his courage. You will never displace him from his belief in the guitar. Trends come and go but real ability always maintains its credibility.
Instead of criticising, support your favourite players or better still, get yourself out there. It is no surprise that Brock gets more support from territories abroad than he does from the UK. You can argue with any aspect of his material, and even say you hate his playing, but you can not condemn him for his efforts. He is building a following that will probably surprise his critics because he is out there relentlessly pushing the boundaries of what is in vogue. It is no wonder that the UK doesn't produce great guitar players in the way we used to. No one with any ability is brave enough to stand out.