The Top 10 Rock Guitarists

Rock music has dozens of great guitar players, and it is impossible to narrow that down to a list of ten which everyone will agree on. In that regard, this blog comes with the following disclaimer;

a. This is a blog about the greatest rock guitarists. So by definition, it will exclude many legendary players because they were not rockers. The most notable example of this would be Les Paul, the godfather of the electric guitar. Likewise, Chet Atkins is not here even he is one of the greatest pickers ever.

b. Also missing are the early bluesmen like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Albert Collins. Although technically not rock artists, we would not even be having this conversation without them. Their influence was so great, they deserve their own blog — which I intend to write.

There are very few sure things in life, but it is a safe bet I left someone major of this list. With that in mind, here are my Top 10 rock guitarists;

1. James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (Seattle): Anyone who wants to argue about Hendrix's place on the top of this list has no business reading this blog. He revolutionized the art of playing the electric guitar. A lefty, he played a right-handed Fender Strat upside down.

Favorite Song: All Along the Watchtower

2. Carlos Santana (Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico): The perfect blend of power, soul and spirit.

Favorite Song: Open Invitation

3. Stevie Ray Vaughn (Dallas/Austin): One of my best musical memories is the first time I witnessed the talent of SRV at the Rome Inn in Austin, Texas. Just a guess, but I am betting my friend and fellow Longhorn pncombies was there that night. I actually had the privilege of meeting this humble and generous man once. The world is a sadder place without him in it.

Favorite Song: Willie the Wimp

4. Mark Knopfler (Newcastle, England): Knopfler has continued to excel since Dire Straits broke up in 1996. He refined the fingerstyle method of playing.

Favorite Song: Telegraph Road

5. Eric Clapton (Ripley, Surrey, England): The only man to be inducted in the Rock-and-Roll HOF three different times — as a solo artist and as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. The impressive thing about Clapton is his ability to vary his musical style with seemingly no effort.

Favorite Song: Layla

6. Jeff Beck (Wallington, England): Beck was awarded the ultimate compliment when his peers dubbed him "the guitarist's guitarist". If you ever doubt the influence of The Yardbirds, consider this — the band produced three of the players on this list — Beck, Clapton and Jimmy Page.

Favorite Song: What Mama Said

7. Jimmy Page (Heston, Middlesex, England): Although Page has some personal beliefs I do not agree with, there is no denying that he influenced an entire generation of hard rock guitarists.

Favorite Song: Stairway to Heaven

8. Brian May (London): Not only is May one of the greatest guitar players of all-time, he is also an astrophysicist. He gives a whole new meaning to the term "intellectual rock." He built his guitar, the "Red Special", which explains May's distinctive sound.

Favorite Song: Tie Your Mother Down

9. Ernie Isley (Cincinnati, Ohio): Jimi Hendrix started out as a back-up guitar player in The Isley Brothers, and credits Ernie Isley as being one of his greatest influences.

Favorite Song: Who's That Lady?

10. Eric Johnson (Austin): Unless you are a guitar aficionado or a Texan, EJ might have escaped your attention. Check out this video — you can thank me later.

Favorite Song: Trail of Tears

Other Guitar Legends: Duanne Allman, Eddie Van Halen, Pete Townsend, Randy Rhodes, Slash, Jack White, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Alex Lifeson, Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Ric Nielson, Edge, George Harrison, Zak Wylde, Dimebag, John Frusciante, Mike Campbell, Lindsey Buckingham, Dave Navarro, Yngwie Malmstein, Richie Sambora, Billy Duffey, Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, Joe Perry, David Gilmour, George Lynch, Michael Schenker, Nils Lofgren