The Best Famous Guitar Players Ever
This is a top ten of who I consider to be the best guitarists of all time. They're not all considered to be some of the greatest, or most amazing musicians, but I feel they have given an invaluable push to the music industry. Some of them will appear in the top ten for most people, some are perhaps a bit more off the wall. I have included guitarists who are more about the song writing than the fantastic performance. Though performance is a big part of what makes a great guitarist, I don't personally feel it is the be all and end all. The best musicians are well rounded performers, writers and musical technicians. Enjoy.
10. Kurt Cobain
Although not usually listed as a great guitarist, Cobain is perhaps the greatest bad guitarist of all time. None of his music was technically brilliant, and his guitar solos are famous for being so simple nearly anyone could play them. Therein lies his brilliance. He managed to gain rock super stardom with music that was so simple, yet also caught the emotion of an entire generation. The fact that it was so simple is part of what makes it so good. His emotional and anti establishment performances also had much mass appeal. His lyrics were also genius. So ambiguous that even he often seemed unsure as to their meaning. This allowed anyone listening to his songs to put their own take on every song. A true great.
9. Jack White
Another guitarist whose technical playing ability is not fantastic, White has, however, managed to lift his band The White Stripes to super stardom with very simple guitar work and extremely powerful riffs. His writing ability has much mass appeal and his stage performances are extremely flamboyant and aggressive. His band are perhaps the biggest influence in the garage rock revival of the last decade.
8. Kirk Hammet
The lead guitarist from rock supergroup Metallica, Hammet is a lead guitarist in the most traditional sense. Long solos, crunchy riffs and epic instrumentals are a trademark of his work. The album "Black" showed Hammet and Metallica were able to write to a mass audience, and gained Metallica their current status as rock legends. A stage performance par excellence is added to his undeniable writing talent. "Nothing else matters" is one of the greatest instrumental pieces of music of the last 25 years, using no less than six guitar tracks when recorded.
7. Tom Morello
Formerly lead guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, now of Audioslave, Morellos use of blues guitar riffs were the perfect match for the hip hop fusion style of RATM. His guitar pieces are much more traditional than the style of the band implies. His use of effects and ramped up riffs often disguises the traditional simplicity of the original notes. His style has remained similar with audioslave, although this band has a much less aggressive appeal when compared to RATM. Perhaps one of the least well known of this group, Morello's ability should not be underestimated.
6. Jonny Greenwood
Greenwood is the lead guitarist of british megaband Radiohead. He left university before completing his degree to pursue a career with the first incarnation of Radiohead. Greenwood's aggressive guitar style is well known, and his performances are that of a traditional lead guitarist, however greenwood is also a very talented writer and musician. His guitar piece for the single "Creep" is one of the most unusual and provoking pieces in recent rock history, yet this is all due to one bar of it, right before the chorus. For this piece alone, Greenwood deserves a mention, however he consistently produces guitar pieces that defy convention, yet somehow manage to sit well with the ears and have mass appeal. Greenwood is still with Radiohead and has also produced several solo albums.
5. Saul Hudson (Slash)
One time lead guitarist of american rock band Guns 'n' Roses, Slash could be cited as perhaps the most influential guitarists guitarist of the 80's and 90's. The solo for "Sweet Child of Mine" has been murdered countless times by many a budding guitarist. "November Rain" contains one of the greatest guitar pieces of all time. Slash is very much a hero for guitar players, with huge flamboyant solos and long instrumentals. Having left Guns 'n' Roses, he continued to play as a solo artist with Slash's Snakepit, until co-founding supergroup Velvet Revolver, which also included some of the former Guns 'n' Roses members. He has also provided the guitar pieces to several Michael Jackson songs. He is currently pursuing a solo career.
4. Matt Bellamy
Perhaps the most off the wall entry in this list, Bellamy manages to be both a lead guitarist in the traditional sense, as well as performing as lead singer and songwriter for the British alternative band Muse. Although he does the huge solos that are the trademark of any traditional lead player, Bellamy also uses electronica and combines some very unusual styles to create a very unique sound. The stage performances of the band are plainly centered around his emotional and flamboyant playing style. The strangeness in the sound coupled with the mass appeal of the band are testament to the ability of a guitarist who manages to be influential without losing any sense of the playing style that put the band there in the first place.
3. John Frusciante
This man's success on the big stage can be measured in the success of his band, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Those of you who are old enough will remember the long period they spent in the wilderness after Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik. Then they came back with Californication, their biggest selling album, immediately followed by another classic album, By The Way. It is no coincidence that these albums were all written with John Frusciante. The Chilli's stage presence and cool image contributes a lot to their success, but Frusciante delivered classic songs time and time again. As a writer, the man is a machine, having also produced 17 solo albums. He has left the Chillis and is currently pursuing a solo career.
The lead guitarist from britpop band Blur, Coxon is famous for recording almost everything himself, barely making any use of session musicians. Although he is one of the least flamboyant in this list, he has consistently produced ground-breaking guitar pieces, an influential part of the commercial success of the band. Coxon has also produced a large volume of solo work, releasing seven solo albums. He is currently still with Blur as well as continuing a solo career.
1. Dave Grohl
Although he started his career as a drummer with the grunge band Nirvana, Grohls unique style, combining aggressive grungie guitar riffs with "feel good" songs, has made the Foo Fighters one of the biggest bands of their generation, even outshining Nirvana. At the Foo Fighters first festival at reading in '97, they were not expected to pull a big crowd, therefore were put on one of the small stages. The tent was overwhelmed with people and several had to be rushed out by emergency services when the crush at the front became unbearable and they passed out. Under Grohl, the Foo Fighters are still one of the biggest bands of the current rock world.
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