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100 Best Guitar Players of the 60s and 70s

Updated on February 6, 2019
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over two years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

When you go back in time, it’s the '60s and '70s that flashback some of the most historic moments in guitar playing. Many bands incorporated varied musical styles the helped new genres emerge and take shape. Soloing concepts changed a great deal in the '60s and '70s with many guitarists adopting a free-form style of playing. The roots of rock established firm ground in the '60s and '70s. Many rock genres and subgenres that emerged post '80s owe it to music from the hippy-happy days. Song structure took a new path in the 60s as bands embraced new improvisational elements in studio recordings. The analog recording techniques used by sound engineers in the '60s paved the way for digital recording techniques of the future. The improvisational techniques that guitar players in the '60s and '70s encompassed in the realms of rock music did set the ball rolling for shredders of the future.


The Guitar Movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s

The ‘60s and ‘70s were decades that helped various genres of music flourish. The folk movement garnered significant attention in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. The blues rock sound came into its own as bands experimented with tempo changes and song structure. Guitar players from various genres made a statement with sound, thanks to their diverse influences. Many jazz guitarists and blues guitarists were signed by independent record labels to release albums. In the same vein many progressive bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s released their albums independently.

Major record companies took notice of talented bands releasing albums independently and wasted no time in signing record deals with upcoming bands. The guitar movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s paved the way for a new breed of guitarists of the future. The tonal quality of guitar players in the ‘60s and ‘70s led to a new wave of sophistication in guitar sound. The warmth and tone guitarists from the decades gone by managed to produce with their playing is testimony to the fact that we do not need fancy guitar processors for rich tonal quality.


Improvised Guitar Solos in the ‘60s and ‘70s

The Canterbury scene that emerged in the city of Canterbury in the 60s and 70s led the way for experimental guitarists. The crop of guitarists that emerged in the 80s and 90s amalgamated various elements such as jazz, avant-garde and progressive rock in their musical styles. Improvised guitar solos during a live set became a rage with concert goers in the 60s and 70s and this trend has carried on. While not many guitar players released solo albums in the 60s and 70s, a significant number showcased their full potential of playing styles during live performances.


Jazz Fusion of the ‘60s and ‘70s

Many rock guitarists of the ‘60s and ‘70s toured with different bands doing a series of gigs. Guitarists formed side projects with members from different bands to give meaning to the creative school of thought. The Jazz Fusion genre emerged with monstrous venom in the late ‘60s and ‘70s with complex instrumental technique becoming the focal point in the scheme of things. The jazz fusion genre creatively blended elements of funk, rhythm and blues, jazz rock, and non-western music forms thereby earning a unique identity. Guitarists in the jazz fusion genre took structured experimental improvisation to a whole new level.


Guitarists of bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s were known for their signature sound and creative playing style. It was this synthesis that helped young guitarists of the future embark on a creative new path in guitar playing.

The list below is a showcase of the best guitarists of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Treat the list purely as a celebration of guitar players. If you are passionate about the guitar you will have an opinion. Have you say in the comments section and feel free to add to the list of guitar greats. Cheers!


100 Best Guitar Players of the ‘60s and ‘70s

  1. Jeff Beck (Rock/Blues)
  2. Jimmy Page (Rock)
  3. Ritchie Blackmore (Rock)
  4. David Gilmour (Rock/Psychedelic)
  5. Pete Townshend (Rock)
  6. Allan Holdsworth (Jazz Fusion)
  7. Muddy Waters (Blues)
  8. Joe Pass (Jazz)
  9. Jimi Hendrix (Rock/Blues Rock)
  10. B.B. King (Blues)
  11. Chuck Berry (Rock N Roll)
  12. Peter Green (Rock)
  13. John Lee Hooker (Blues)
  14. Chet Atkins (Country/Folk/Rockabilly)
  15. Paul Kossoff (Rock)
  16. Alvin Lee (Rock)
  17. Buddy Guy (Blues)
  18. Mike Bloomfield (Blues/Blues Rock)
  19. Carlos Santana (Rock/Latin Rock/Jazz Rock)
  20. Wes Montgomery (Jazz)

21. Frank Zappa (Rock/Experimental)

22. Eric Clapton (Rock)

23. George Benson (Jazz/Gypsy Jazz)

24. Paco de Lucia (Flamenco)

25. Jan Akkerman (Rock)

26. Al Di Meola (Jazz Fusion/Jazz)

27. Larry Coryell (Jazz/Jazz Fusion)

28. Duane Eddy (Instrumental Rock/Twang Guitar)

29. Keith Richards (Rock)

30. Robby Krieger (Rock)

31. Tony Iommi (Rock)

32. Johnny Winter (Blues)

33. Daevid Allen (Psychedelic Rock)

34. Jimmy Nolen (Blues/Country/R&B)

35. Duane Allman (Southern Rock/Blues Rock/Jam)

36. Brian May (Rock)

37. Joe Walsh (Rock/Blues Rock)

38. Gary Rossington (Southern Rock)

39. John Fogerty (Country Rock/Rock)

40. Hank Garland (Country/Jazz)

41. Michael Schenker (Rock)

42. Link Wray (Rock n Roll/Country/Surf Music)

43. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (Blues/Blues Rock)

44. Billy Gibbons (Rock)

45. Roy Buchanan (Blues/Jazz)

46. Jorma Kaukonen (Psychedelic Rock/Folk Rock/Acid Rock)

47. Steve Miller (Blues/Blues Rock)

48. Marc Bolan (Rock)

49. Dick Dale (Surf Rock)

50. Steve Morse (Southern Rock/Country/Bluegrass)

51. Andy Summers (Rock/Jazz Fusion)

52. Dave Brock (Rock/Space Rock)

53. John Scofield (Jazz/Jazz Fusion/Acid Jazz)

54. Tal Farlow (Bebop/Jazz)

55. Mick Ralphs (Rock)

56. Howard Roberts (Country/Jazz/Blues)

57. Jerry Garcia (Rock/Jam)

58. Ryo Kawasaki (Jazz Fusion)

59. Steve Hackett (Rock/Progressive Rock)

60. George Kooymans (Rock)

61. Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (Rock)

62. Terje Rypdal (Jazz)

63. Scotty Moore (Country/Rockabilly/Rock n Roll)

64. Uli Jon Roth (Rock)

65. Lonnie Mack (Southern Rock/Blues/Country/Rock)

66. James Burton (Rockabilly/Country/Rock n Roll)

67. Dickey Betts (Southern Rock/Country Rock)

68. Bill Harkleroad (Experimental Rock/Avant Garde/Blues Rock)

69. Steve Hillage (Space Rock/Experimental)

70. Albert Collins (Blues)

71. Pat Metheny (Jazz)

72. John Goodsall (Jazz Fusion)

73. Robben Ford (Jazz/Jazz-Blues)

74. Kerry Livgren (Rock)

75. Eddie Hazel (Funk/Soul)

76. Bo Diddley (Blues)

77. Pat Martino (Jazz/Bop/Soul Jazz)

78. Larry Carlton (Jazz/Smooth Jazz)

79. Steve Howe (Progressive Rock)

80. Scott Gorham (Rock)

81. Robin Trower (Rock)

82. John Abercrombie (Progressive Jazz/Jazz Fusion/Avant-Garde-Jazz)

83. Phil Manzanera (Rock)

84. Grant Green (Hard Bop/Soul Jazz/Jazz)

85. Mick Ronson (Rock/Psychedelia)

86. Lenny Breau (Jazz/Country)

87. Bill Kirchen (Country Rock/Rockabilly/Americana)

88. Neal Schon (Rock)

89. Martin Barre (Rock)

90. Otis Rush (Blues)

91. Barney Kessel (Jazz)

92. John McLaughlin (Jazz Fusion/Jazz)

93. Rory Gallagher (Blues/Rock/Folk)

94. Kazumi Watanabe (Jazz Fusion)

95. Mick Taylor (Rock/Blues Rock)

96. David T. Walker- (Funk/Soul/R&B)

97. Herb Ellis (Jazz)

98. Randy Bachman (Rock)

99. Miller Anderson (Rock/Blues)

100. Gary Green (Progressive Rock)

Other Notable Guitarists of the ‘60s and ‘70s

  • Big Jim Sullivan (Sessions Guitarist)
  • Alex Lifeson (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Ted Nugent (Rock)
  • Jim Hall (Jazz)
  • Zoot Horn Rollo- (Rock/Experimental Rock)
  • Charlie Byrd (Jazz)
  • Gabor Szabo (Jazz)
  • Randy California (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Louis Stewart (Jazz)
  • Carl Perkins (Rockabilly)
  • Lou Reed (Rock)
  • Danny Kirwan (Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Jay Berliner (Jazz)
  • Freddie King (Blues)
  • Angus Young (Rock)

  • Joe Perry (Rock)
  • Tommy Tedesco (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  • Eddie Phillips (Rock)
  • Dave Davies (Rock)
  • Albert King (Blues)
  • Gary Moore (Rock/Blues)
  • Hank Marvin (Rock N’ Roll/Instrumental Rock)
  • Dave Edmunds (Rock N’ Roll/Roots Rock)
  • Johnny Smith (Jazz)
  • Gary Rossington (Rock/Southern Rock)
  • Robert Fripp (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Kenny Burrell (Jazz)
  • Sonny Sharrock (Jazz)
  • Attila Zoller (Jazz)
  • Ed King (Rock/Psychedelic Rock)

Who is the Best Guitar Player of the 60s and 70s

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© 2015 Ansel Pereira


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