15 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

Tom Petty

Tom Petty was an American musician born on Oct. 20, 1950, in Gainesville, Florida. As the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, he had managed to stay in the spotlight for over 40 years. However, we also have to acknowledge Mike Campbell, the lead guitarist who has been one half of a supreme double act over the years. Together they’ve given the world hit singles like “Breakdown” and “American Girl”.

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Neil Young

Neil Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter born on Nov. 12, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario. He has achieved commercial and critical success as a solo artist, as well as a bandsman of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. “It's one note, but it's so melodic, and it just snarls with attitude and anger,” was an apt description of “Down by the River”. In terms of his overall talent it has been said that “Neil's playing is like an open tube from his heart right to the audience”.

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Buddy Guy

Buddy Guy is an American blues guitarist born on Jul. 30, 1936, in Lettsworth, Louisiana. Although he made himself a bow at the age of TWO and began playing guitar, record executives had called his style “just a bunch of noise” for decades. Fortunately, the cream always rises to the top. When blues came back into style in the late 80s and early 90s, Guy was recognized for his talent and influence. His songs “Stone Crazy” and “First Time I Met the Blues” were hugely influential to other musical maestros, like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page.

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Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is a British rock musician born on Mar. 30, 1945, in Surrey, England. As the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he can absolutely rank high on the greatest guitarists list. “There was a basic simplicity to his playing, his style, his vibe and his sound,” Eddie Van Halen, another guitarist on our list, commented Clapton. “His solos were melodic and memorable - and that’s what guitar solos should be.” “Layla” and “Crossroads” are two of most successful singles.

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Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is an English guitarist born on Jan. 9, 1944, in Middlesex, England. He is well-known for the way he swung his double-necked Gibson guitar with powerful solos and catchy rhythms. Rolling Stone magazine even described him as “the pontiff of power riffing”. As lead guitarist for Led Zeppelin, the most venerable of heavy metal bands, he left us classic works like “Dazed and Confused”, “Heartbreaker” and “Kashmir”.

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George Harrison

George Harrison was an English musician born on Feb. 25, 1943, in Liverpool, England. Though generally recognized for being a member of The Beatles, which is regarded as the most influential band of all time, Harrison had a very successful career as a solo artist as well. He was also a quite gifted songwriter, and for instance, The Beatles’ second-most-covered song “Something” was his composition.

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Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was an American musician born on Feb. 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. As the co-founder and frontman for the grunge rock band Nirvana, Cobain shaped a new mold for his generation’s rock star. Even though he passed away young in 1994, Nirvana’s success still widely popularized alternative rock and Cobain himself was referred to as the icon of generation X.

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Brian May

Brian May is an English musician born on Jul. 19, 1947, in Hampton, London. As the guitarist of Queen, he’s not only extremely talented in music, but also excels in science that he has a PhD in astrophysics and he’s an authority on 3D stereoscopic photography. He and his band wrote a number of the most recognizable rock anthems around, like “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. By the way, even his guitar was homemade by this genius with help from his father.

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Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter born on Apr. 29, 1933, in Abbot, Texas. Rising to stardom at the end of the 1960s, he was recognized as one of the most prolific artists of outlaw country music and had a music career that spanned more than 60 years. This venerable musician has created lots of hit songs in that time, such as “Whiskey River” and “Night Life”.

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Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was an American musician born on Sept. 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas. Every rock aficionado should be grateful to him, for Holly was regarded as the pioneer of rock and roll music and he inspired a generation of rock musicians like Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, and so on. Despite that he tragically died in an airplane crash aged only 22, leaving behind some great songs like “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue”.

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Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend is an English musician born on May 19, 1945, in Chiswick, London. As the guitarist and driving force behind The Who, a British group that ruled the rock stage throughout the 1960s, he never played solos during the time with his band, but focused on rhythm-guitar playing. Townshend was famous for their hit songs like “I Can’t Explain” and “My Generation” and infamously being the first to smash guitar onstage.

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Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen is a Dutch-American guitarist born on Jan. 26, 1955, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is a master of riffs, well-known for his unique playing that he could make harmonics and textures sound like they weren’t even guitar sounds. Van Halen wrote a great number of tracks, some of which are classics, such as “Eruption”, “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” and “Hot for Teacher”.

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David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a British musician born on Mar. 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England. He began his music career with a guitar borrowed from his neighbor, however, he later acquired great success as both the lead guitarist and frontman of Pink Floyd. He can now even afford his own guitar with his net worth standing at a cool $160 million. Gilmour wrote their huge hit “Comfortably Numb”, which is a favorite song for many rock fans.

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Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was an American musician born on Nov. 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. Even though his mainstream career spanned only 4 years and that he has now been passed away for over 50 years, it didn’t affect the fact that Hendrix is widely considered to be the greatest guitar player in history, so far, second to none. He’s best known for songs like “Purple Haze”, “Foxy Lady” and his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

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Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a British guitarist born on Dec. 18, 1943, in Kent, England. What is remarkable about him is that he often acts as the lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist in the same song, which is really hard as these two roles should be in charge of the different voices. Fourteen of the songs he co-wrote with other members in his former band The Rolling Stones were listed on the list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, like “Satisfaction” and “Gimme Shelter”.

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