Guitarists: The Greatest Musicians Ever
Most of us get swept away by a guitarist’s riffs and rhythms. It’s always a joy every time we hear a sound coming from some of these greatest guitarists. Every strum of the guitar would make us go to different places. Music does really make our day, right? So let us show you a list of the greatest guitarists of all time!
Ellas McDaniel aka Bo Diddley was born in Ellas Otha Bates on December 30, 1982. He was famous during his time. An American singer, a very skilled guitarist and a music producer, Bo made a big impact on the transition of music from blues to rock and roll. He influenced most guitarists because of his style and talent. Also, you might notice his choice of clothing. He always had a clean haircut in every performance, too.
His famous songs entitled “Road Runner,” “Who Do You Love?” and “Bo Diddley” topped the charts. These songs unleashed a West African groove which was very easy to follow and remember. Bo inspired many to pick up their guitars and sing.
John William Cummings aka Johnny Ramone was a well-known guitarist and songwriter. One of the greatest guitarists ever lived; Johnny was among the four members of the band “Ramones.” He was born on October 8, 1948 in Queens. The Ramones was one of the firsts to play powerful, heavy rock, up-tempo music. Some of their best songs were “Judy Is a Punk”, “Rockaway Beach” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Jerry Garcia was one of the best lead guitarists. He was a vocalist of the band “Grateful Dead.” He was born in San Francisco on August 1, 1942. His incredible talent in music can be heard especially when he combines different genres when he plays the guitar. He can play jazz, rock and roll, bluegrass and even Spanish music. He’s a well-known rocker who had heavy influence in the1960’s. He was known for his songs like “Casey Jones,” “Dark Star” and “Sugaree”
One of the most influential female songwriters and guitarist is Roberta Joan “Joni” Mitchell. She was born on November 7, 1943, in Alberta, Canada. Her songs often reflected her ideas on the environment and social issues as well as her deepest feelings about love, romance, confusion, happiness, and delusion. She was one of the best songwriters ever. She was also known for her unique style in tuning her guitar to give a variety of sounds out of every chord. In fact, she became famous for writing songs with the same chords but in different tunings, including one song with 50 variations. Her songs like “Nathan La Franner”, “Night in the City” and “I Had a King,” became so popular during her time.
This famous guitar hero was born on July 30, 1936, in Lettsworth, Louisiana. He was an American blues guitarist and a well-known singer. Promoter of Chicago blues, Buddy Guy influenced a lot of popular guitarists like Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Mayer and many more. He pursued his dreams at an early age but his family kicked him out because of the guitar noise. Also, he became noticeable because of his fashion sense and unique hairstyle. He is best known for songs such as “The First Time I Met Blues” and “Stone Crazy.”
Anthony Frank Iommi was born in Birmingham England on February 19, 1948. Tony had an industrial accident when he was 17, where he lost the tips of two of his fingers. This could have stopped him in playing the guitar, but he was so talented that it made him stand out. He is also one of the four members of the famous heavy metal band called “The Black Sabbath”. He is a legendary guitarist-songwriter. Some of his famous songs are “SabbraCadabra,” “Children of The Grave” and “Iron Man.”
One of the most popular lead guitarists is Tom Baptiste Morello, an American singer-songwriter and a political activist. He is also a member of the popular band “Rage Against The Machine.” He has a deep interest in social change and other related issues. He graduated with a degree from Harvard University and it made him more creative and interested in social and political issues. He is very well known for the different sounds that he creates with his guitar. It’s a combination of heavy metal and hip-hop. The songs “Guerilla Radio,” “And Now You Do What They Told Ya” and “Killing in the Name” are some of his famous songs.
Brian Harold May is an English musician, singer, songwriter and a lead guitarist of the popular rock band “Queen.” He was born on July 19, 1947, in London, England. Queen is one of the most technical and unique bands in the history of music. Little do fans know, though, that Brian also holds a degree in astrophysics. He is so talented that his songs rocked the whole planet. He can also play the piano so well. Their songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Stone Crazy” are still alive up to this day.
Willie Hugh Nelson was one of the best guitar players during his time. He was born in Abbot, Texas on April 29, 1933. He is an American singer, actor, producer, author, poet, activist and a timeless lead guitarist. He studied Agriculture at Baylor University but didn’t finish the degree because he wanted to pursue his career in music. His music spanned for over 60 years together with his guitar named “Trigger”. He used the same guitar in all his gigs, concerts and shows. He’s best known for his songs “Night Life” and “Whiskey River”. At 86, Willie still continues to rock the world with his music.
Famous guitarist Robert Alan Krieger is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He was born on January 8, 1946, in Los Angeles, California. He is one of the members of the band called “The Door”. He was a latecomer and was the last member to join the group because he prioritized his studies in jazz and flamenco. He attended University of California in Santa Barbara and took a bachelor’s degree course. His background in flamenco and jazz contributed a lot to the band. Some of the great songs he wrote are “Roadhouse Blues” and “Riders on the Storm.” He used his creativity and musical background to write beautiful and timeless songs.
David Howell Evans, better known by his stage name “The Edge” is an Irish musician and songwriter. He is also the lead guitarist, a keyboardist and back vocalist in the band U2. He was born on August 8, 1961 in Essex, England. David taught himself how to play the guitar and all of his music skills are pure talent and a gift. He’s musical sound compliments every singer and is best known for his songs like “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” “The Fly” and “I Will Follow.”
Elmore James is an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He was born on January 27, 1918 in Richland, Mississippi. He started to play the guitar and other musical instruments when he was a little boy. He started with a “jitterbug and diddley bow,” a one-stringed instrument and continued playing when he had his first guitar. His one-stringed instrument skill may have influenced his unique style in playing the guitar. Elmore James is well known for his songs “The Sky Is Crying” and “Dust My Broom”.
Winfield Scott “Scotty” Moore III is an American guitarist and a recording engineer. He was Elvis Presley’s backup singer during the first part of his career. He was born on December 27, 1931, in Gadsden, Tennessee. Scotty invented the power chords and used it in Elvis’ song “Jailhouse Rock”. He helped Elvis during his comeback concert in 1968. Elvis and Scotty both had the same clean haircut and style when they performed together. The famous guitarist was well known for his songs “Mystery Train,” “That’s All Right” and “Heartbreak Hotel”.
McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters brought his southern-blues style in music to the Midwest scene. He was born in Issaquena County, Mississippi on April 4, 1913. An American blues singer and songwriter, Muddy was a big influence to Jimi Hendrix, one of the greatest guitarist-singers of all time. Although his popularity was not consistent, he revived his music in the early ’70s that lasted until his final breath.
Thomas Earl Petty is an American singer-songwriter, a record producer and multi-instrumentalist. He was born on October 20, 1950 in Gainesville, Florida. Tom is very well known for his simple style when using the guitar. He embraced southern rock and always collaborated well with his co-guitarist. Some of his popular songs that reached the top of the charts are “You Got Lucky” and “Breakdown”.
Frank Vincent Zappa is an American musician and the band leader of “The Mothers of Invention.” He was born on December 21, 1940 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was born with a lot of talents and his music experience was very wide, from jazz to concrete. People judged Frank because he was a tobacco addict. Thankfully, performing and working with the band helped him get over his addiction. He did a lot of solo work during his career, yet he is very popular for his work with the band. He proved that the guitar can produce a lot of tones. He is known for his songs like “In-a-Gadda-Stravinsky” and “Willie The Pimp.”
An Australian guitarist and co-founder of the hard rock band AC/DC, Angus Young is a well known singer-songwriter and a very talented lead guitarist. He was born on March 31, 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland. He idolized Chuck Berry but his outfits make him look like Harry Potter. His songs like “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black” became an inspiration to a generation of rhythmic power-laden guitarists throughout the music industry. He started AC/DC when he was 18 years old and stayed with the rock band for 46 years.
William Frederick Gibbons is one of the greatest musicians of all time. He is an American singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and the best lead guitarist and lead singer of the band “ZZ Top.” He was born on Dec 16, 1949 in Houston Texas. You will notice him because of his fancy outfits, noticeable hat, and stylish beard. His influence was his father. He always took him to Elvis Presley’s concerts that made him familiar with the guitar. He was 20 years old when he started playing in ZZ Top. If you are a fan of the band, you will know their songs such as “Gimme Your Lovin” and “Tush”.
This English guitarist, songwriter and singer is one of the greatest musicians of all time. David Jon Gilmour is a member of the famous rock band “Pink Floyd.” He was not the original one but he became the frontman and the lead guitarist. David was born on March 6, 1946 in Cambridge, England. He started playing the guitar when he was young. He borrowed a guitar from his neighbor and never returned it. He always loves to play with effects. He is well known for his songs such as “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Comfortably Numb,” which made it to the top of the charts during his time.
Anthony Joseph Pereira or better-known as Joe Perry is a talented American musician and vocalist and known for his guitar techniques. He is the lead guitarist of the greatest American rock band of all time Aerosmith. He was born on September 10, 1950 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He always brings the rocker side of the band together with Steven Tyler on their concerts. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry is a perfect combination for an ideal rock band. They complement each other and they will truly rock your world. Both of their hairstyles are really noticeable because of their hair color and highlights. Some of their songs that became so popular are “Janie’s got a Gun,” “Dream On” and “Walk This Way”.
Saul Hudson, who is better known as “Slash,” is a British–American musician. He is the famous lead guitarist of the rock band “Guns N’ Roses.” He was born in London, England on July 23, 1965. Slash doesn’t mind being popular especially when most of the band’s fans were so drawn to his guitar skills and techniques. Slash loves to perform wearing his very tight pants, a simple top and a stylish hat. Slash is famous because of his band, yet he also had a wonderful solo career. Some of his legendary solos are “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “November Rain.” He still continues to rock everyone with his guitar skills and talent.
Charles Hardin Holley, also known as Buddy Holly, is one of the greatest musicians ever lived. He was an American singer-songwriter and a very talented guitarist. He was one of the pioneer figures of mid-1950’s rock and roll. He was born in Lubbock, Texas on September 7, 1936. If you are a fan of Eric Clapton and the Beatles, then you have to know that Buddy invented the genre. He played different kinds of genres in his music, from country music to rock and roll. He is well known for his beautiful vocals and guitar skills. He is known for songs like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be That Day”.
Neill Young’s real name was Neil Percival Young. He is a Canadian singer-songwriter. He was born on November 12, 1945 in Toronto, Canada. He was so talented and has a unique style. Even though he was diagnosed with epilepsy, it didn’t seem to stop him at all. Working with a band or solo, he was still exceptional with every song and music that he created. He never abandoned his love for the music. He is well known for his song with Buffalo Springfield, “Down By the River,” “Mr. Soul” and “For What It’s Worth.”
Richard Anthony Monsour or professionally known as Dick Dale was born on March 4, 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is an American rock guitarist. He is known for his surf music and reverberation. People called him “The King of The Surf Guitar” which was also the title of his second album. His interest in “surf rock” started when he was 17 years old. Like many other musicians, he didn’t finish a degree in college because he wanted to pursue his career in music. The kind of music he played was loud and fast. Two of his many songs that became popular during his time were “Peter Gunn” and “Misirlou”.
Freddie is an American blues singer and guitarist. He was born on September 3, 1984 in Gilmer Texas. They described King as the “Texas Cannonball” because of his live stage performances. He is known for his distinctive style in music, and he always used metal picks in every performance. His voice is so powerful and soulful. Because of his voice and music style, he was credited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. He combined rock and blues together to make it more original. He is best known for his songs like “The Stumble,” “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?” and “Hide Away.”
Kurt Donald Cobain or best known as Kurt Cobain was born on February 20, 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington. He was the lead guitarist and frontman of the famous band Nirvana. They were tagged as a heavy metal band, but their songs were not limited to loud music. Acoustic and slow songs were also some of their best genres. Nirvana is one of the most influential bands of all time. Their music may be complicated but it’s still alive up to this day. Sadly, he was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted shotgun wound on his head. He is remembered as one of the most influential and iconic rock musicians in alternative music history. Nirvana is known for songs like “Smells like Teen Spirit,” “Heart-shaped Box” and “All Apologies.”
John Winston Ono Lennon or best known as John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England. He is an English singer-songwriter and peace activist. He was one of the co-founders of the legendary group “The Beatles.” They are the most commercially successful band in pop music history. Also, their iconic fashion and style influenced the whole music industry. Billions of records were sold during their time and they are the bestselling band in history. John Lennon has its own unique sound in music. Every strum and rhythm of the guitar has its own voice that can trigger your deepest emotions. Songs like “Yer Blues,” “Help” and” Day Tripper” are some of his most popular songs up until this very moment.
George is an English musician who was born on February 25, 1933 in Liverpool, England. He was often referred to as the “Quiet Beatle”. Indian Culture was one of his influences in music and he incorporated this to some of The Beatles songs. Guitar precision and the use of vibrato were his expertise and he’s never gone out of tune. George was one of the main influencer of the hippie style fashion back in their era. Their fashion sense became one of the most iconic styles in the ’60s. George Harrison wrote some of the Beatles songs such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Taxman.”
Albert Nelson, known by his stage name Albert King, was born on April 25, 1923 in Indianola Mississippi. He was an American blues guitarist and singer, who has influenced many other guitarists. Albert said that he had no influence on playing the guitar because he felt like everything he did was wrong. Yet most people called him by the name of “The Velvet Bulldozer” because of his smooth sailing voice. He played the guitar left-handed but he can also do it on the right hand. He just set it up for playing the instrument upside down. Famous singers such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton applauded him when they opened for him in 1967. Albert King was best known for his songs such as “As Years Go Passing By” and “Born Under a Bad Sign.”
Joe Walsh’s real name was Joseph Fidler Walsh. He was born on November 20, 1947 in Wichita, Kansas. He is an American guitarist and songwriter. He attended Kent State University with a major in English and minor in music. Like many other successful musicians, his songs mostly hit the top of the charts. For 50 years, he has been with different famous rock bands such as Eagles, The Party Boys, Ringo Star, and His all-star band, Barnstorms and James Gang. He combined his sound with different rhythms and bass to create new sounds and became one of the greatest solo guitarists of all time. He is known for his songs like “Funk #49” and “Rocky Mountain Way”.
Prince Roger Nelson is one of the humblest musicians ever. He was born on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. You can call him whatever you want to call him! This very talented guy was known for his creative works in music – the flamboyant keyboards and synthesizer, his smooth voice and unique style, his guitar skills and many more. Prince once said that Santana influenced him rather than Jimi Hendrix as what people always say. The songs that made him really famous are “Purple Rain”, “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss”.
Pete Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on May 19, 1945 in Middlesex, England. Townshend is an English multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and second lead vocalist of the rock band “The Who.” He is the main songwriter of his band and had already written 100 songs. He preferred to have a solo career because he didn’t have the chance to show his vocal skills as a backup singer of his band. Nevertheless, he contributed a lot to the band, most especially to their sound and to the flow of their music. The intensity and stage presence of Pete makes him more unique and original. He is the first guitarist to smash his stylish guitar onstage and you will notice his authentic gestures when playing the instrument. He is known for his songs like “Summertime Blues,” “My Generation” and “I Can See for Miles”.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray, an American singer-songwriter and record producer, was one of the most influential guitarists in the 1980’s. He was born on October 3, 1954 in Dallas, Texas. The mixing of sound and of different genres were some of his talents and was heavily influenced by famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and B.B King. Sadly, his career ended when he died in a tragic helicopter crash in 1990. Despite his loss, his songs continued to rise up in the charts. He is known for his songs “Cold Shot,” “Love Struck Baby” and “Look at Little Sister”.
Howard Duane Allman or better known as “Skydog” is an American guitarist and leader of the famous Allman Brothers Band. He was born on November 20, 1946 in Nashville, Tennessee. At a young age, he wanted to save money to buy his first guitar and wanted to learn on his own. He was known for his expressive guitar playing and inventive guitar sounds. In fact, he was ranked number 2 on the “Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Also, he was named as one of the Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. Unfortunately, he died at a young age of 24 in a motorcycle accident in 1971. His death never stopped the sound he had created, though. Skydog was known for his slide guitar work in songs like “Blue Sky”, “Statesboro Blues” and “Whipping Post”.
This Mexican-American guitarist contributed a lot to the music industry. Santana was born on July 20, 1947 in Jalisco, Mexico. He rose to fame in the late 60s to the early 70s. He invented and fused Latin American Jazz and Rock & Roll to his music that made him famous and distinct. He influenced a lot of people with his unique music and fashion style. He is known for songs like “Soul Sacrifice,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va.”
Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925 in IttaBena, Mississippi. He is an American blues singer, electric guitarist and a songwriter. He introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on shimmering vibratos and string bending, that influenced a lot of electric guitarists. King is considered as one of “The Three Kings of Blues Guitar,” together with Freddie King and Albert.
An early exposure to the instrument gave him the advantage because he was able to showcase his guitar skills and his emotions through his singing. He was so obsessed about music that he did a lot of shows in the 60’s alone and a lot more during the ’70s. He’s best known for his songs like “Sweet Little Angel,” “The Thrill is Gone,” and “3 O’clock Blues.”
Geoffrey Arnold Beck was born on June 24, 1944 in Surrey, England. He is an English rock guitarist and was exposed to different kinds of genres like electronica, blues rock, and hard rock. He was more focused on innovative sounds and instrumentals than the vocals, combining sounds from all over the world. They said that if you like music, you also like art. He attended Wimbledon College of The Arts and got a degree. Still, he loved performing and continued his career in the music field.
He was tagged as the “Journey Man” because he bounced from one band to another. Yet, he is well known for his songs “Heart Full of Soul,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” and “A Day in the Life.”
Eddie Van Halen
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was voted by the Guitar World Magazine readers as number one in “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” because of his unique abilities in using the guitar. He played the guitar by using a guitar pick, dragging it across the strings. Well-known for his guitar skills and creative finger style, he influenced a lot of guitar amateurs out there. Van is best known for his songs like “Hot for Teacher,” “Ain’t Talking About love” and “Eruption.”
Rolling Stone’s legend Keith Richards belongs to the top 5 Guitarists of All Time. Keith was born on December 18, 1943 in Kent, England. He is an English musician and singer-songwriter from the band Rolling Stone. He was called as the creator of “Rock’s Greatest Single Body of Riffs” and was ranke 4th on 100 Best Guitarists in 2011. Keith was said to be the most unique musician because anyone can play his music but it just won’t sound the same. He’s definitely a legend. Maybe his talent in music was developed a lot when he attended college with a degree in music. Some of the songs he had written that made their way to the top of the charts were “Gimme Shelter” and “Paint it Black.”
His real name was Charles Edward Anderson Berry, an American singer-songwriter. He was the one who started the “rock and roll” music. He was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri. Considered to have one of the best guitar solo performances of all time, Chuck Berry developed and refined rhythm and blues together with rock and roll to make the sound distinctive. The music style of Chuck was a major influence on rock music. He was best known for his songs such as “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Maybellene” and “Johnny B. Good.”
James Patrick Page is an English musician who was born on January 9, 1944 in Middlesex, England. He was a successful guitarist and the founder of the famous rock band Led Zeppelin. Jimmy was so talented that he created different kinds of sound from his stylish double-necked guitar and swung it around his neck. He was known to be the “true workhorse” who always tuned his guitar to produce a beautiful sound. He was best known for his songs like “Kashmir,” “Heartbreaker” and “Confused.”
Eric Patrick Clapton is one of the famous musicians up until now. He was an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. He was born on March 30, 1945 in Surrey, England. Clapton is considered as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Unlike the other musicians, Clapton used simple notes and melodies to create unforgettable creations even though he was trained with different kinds of genres. Most guitarists admit that they are influenced by Eric Clapton’s style in music. He has written a lot of songs and some of them were “Crossroads,” “White Room” and “Bell Bottom Blues.”
James Marshall Hendrix, most popularly known as Jimi Hendrix, is considered to be the best guitarist of all time. He was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. He had the shortest career unlike the other musicians but his sound was out of this world. You have to be an alien to copy or try to mimic his guitar skills and music style! Jimi seems effortless when he performs. “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” tagged him as “the best instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” He is known for his songs “The Star- Spangled Banner,” “Foxy Lady” and “Purple Haze.”