The 10 greatest guitarists of all time have become legends in the world of music. Their blistering riffs during live performances and recordings can cause average guitarists to scratch their heads in confusion. There have been many guitar players throughout the history of music, but only the greatest have obtained iconic status.
- Eddie Van Halen. As the driving force behind quintessential party band Van Halen, this guitarist injects fun and creativity into each song. Eddie Van Halen’s talents are most evident during “Eruption,” a guitar solo track on 1978’s “Van Halen” album. The notes fly by at a breakneck pace, showcasing this guitarist’s penchant for outright speed.
- Jimi Hendrix. No collection of the 10 greatest guitarists of all time would be complete without Hendrix. His innovative and chaotic presence brought rock guitar into the modern age. Hendrix’s creativity shines through on “All Along The Watchtower” from the 1968 album “Electric Ladyland.” His scorching solos turned a Bob Dylan cover song into a guitarist’s dream.
- Slash. Influential rock band Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t have made such a lasting impression without this great guitarist in the mix. Slash’s intricate solos brought an emotional presence to the band’s songs, providing a palpable depth on tracks like “November Rain” from 1991’s “Use Your Illusion I.”
- Robert Johnson. As the godfather of the blues, this guitarist’s short life was shrouded in mystery and legend. Before his death at age 27 in 1938, Johnson released a handful of recordings that didn’t make an impression until a reissue called “King of the Delta Blues Singers” in 1961. Johnson’s innovative style influenced a generation of guitarists.
- Eric Clapton. With work as a solo artist as well as in iconic rock acts like Cream, The Yardbirds and Derek and the Dominoes, this guitarist has been a powerhouse since the 1960s. Clapton’s discography reads like a greatest hits list, but perhaps the best example of his guitar prowess is the blues-tinged “Cocaine” from 1977’s “Slowhand” album.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan. Heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, this guitarist brought an updated playing style to the standard blues structure. His 1983 album “Texas Flood” is a blues-rock staple, featuring some of the greatest guitar-driven anthems ever recorded. Along with the title track, “Pride And Joy” and “Testify” are highlights of the album.
- B.B. King. Along with his famous guitar Lucille, King has put together a long career of fluid, blues-tinged musical work. As a guitarist, King’s flowing style and emotive solos have become legendary. One of his most famous works, “The Thrill Is Gone,” showcases his ample skill. It’s the high point of the 1969 album “Completely Well.”
- Chuck Berry. As one of the early pioneers of rock music, this guitarist helped bring the genre to the masses with his bouncy, unhinged technique. The 1958 classic “Johnny B. Goode” is probably still Berry’s most recognizable song, and it helped turn the album “Chuck Berry Is On Top” into a guitar classic.
- Jimmy Page. As the guitarist for one of the biggest rock bands of all time, Page’s riffs have been mimicked by countless guitar players. With a larger-than-life persona and talent to spare, this guitarist helped turn Led Zeppelin into a cultural revolution. Page’s most enduring work comes on “Stairway To Heaven,” an eight-minute guitar smorgasbord first heard on the 1971 album “Led Zeppelin IV.”
- Duane Allman. Perhaps the most underrated member of the 10 greatest guitarists of all time, Allman’s legacy should never be questioned. Before his death at age 24 in 1971, Allman helped found the Allman Brothers Band, who released the influential live album “At Fillmore East” that same year. Allman’s signature sound is all over the album, making it one of the greatest guitar records ever.
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