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The 10 Most Influential Guitarists Ever!

Hello All, Hope everyone is ok?

Anyway just thought that I would do this post nice and early so that you all get a feel of what guitarists have influenced me the most in my life so far. Remember this is MY list and MY opinion so please don’t go shouting at me saying someone shouldn’t be in this list. Although I would love to hear your feedback and maybe your top 10’s aswell.

This is in no particular order either. So here it goes:

Noel Gallagher

Ok, I know what’s going to come from most of you, “He’s overrated”, “He’s arrogant”, “He’s just a pop guitarist.” But I defy any of you write the amount of top quality songs that this guy has written. Fine, by his own admission he’s just an ‘average’ guitarist, but give him a guitar and watch as he churns out that great opening riff of ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’, or that melodic solo from ‘Live Forever’, or even those four iconic chords from ‘Wonderwall.’ You can knock his arrogance, personality, or cocky swagger all you like, but 60 million albums can’t deny the fact he’s one of the most influential guitarists in British history and maybe even the World! He single-handedly made a generation listen and want to pick up a guitar, and, in the end isn’t that what guitar and music is about?

Peter Doherty

Right until I started writing this list I didn’t realise how controversial this post might be. I know a few of you wouldn’t have liked my choice of Noel, and I know even more of you will hate this next choice. I know a lot of people just see Pete as one big druggie, but should that really shroud his amazingly raw in-your-face talent that shot him to fame with the Libertines? I mean you just have to listen to ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ to hear that it’s one of the greatest guitar songs of the 21st Century. And as for ‘Time For Heroes’ well that is just a pure classic in terms of songwriting ability. However the main reason that he has made it into my list of favourite guitarists is that when he plays the guitar he really feels it, and so do I, and so do millions of others. Alright he’s not the greatest guitarist technically, but did we pick up the guitar to strain for hours over our technical ability? NO! We picked it up to feel the music, feel what we were playing and to feel that we were that SCREAMING guitar!

John Lennon

So what can I say about Lennon that has not already been said… Well not a lot to be honest. And I imagine a lot of you will be wondering why he’s in this list. Well that’s because he was the rhythm guitarist in the greatest band that ever lived! That itself is a feat. What’s more is his ability to compose amazing songs, I mean any guitarist can throw a few chords together that work, but what sets Lennon apart from others is his ability to put quality meaningful lyrics to those chords, if you listen to ‘Working Class Hero’ you will see what I mean. The guitaring is simple, yet the lyrics are very powerful and the song is also very Dylan-esque. Lennon never claimed to be a good guitarist, ‘I’m not technically good, but I can make it howl.’ This sentence epitimizes Lennon and opitimizes guitaring… you can be as technically brilliant as you like but if the guitar doesn’t sound good or if there isn’t any feeling then you might aswell pack up the plectrum and go home.

George Harrison

Ok, Rolling Stone magazine named him as 21 in their top 100 guitarists of all time. The better guitaring half of the Beatles was never going to escape my list! There are just so many riffs, licks and solo’s to mention, from his early stuff like ‘I Feel Fine’ and ‘Day Tripper’ to his later work like ‘Yer Blues’ and his own masterpiece ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ His guitaring never seemed to play an unneccessary note and although his songwriting wasn’t as prolific as Lennons, whenever he did pen a song it was a truly amazing song. From the opening bends in ‘Something’ to the capo on the seventh fret in ‘Here Comes The Sun.’ This was a guitarist worthy to be 21 in the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and in my opinion a guitarist worthy of higher praise. I for cannot wait to play his guitar in The Beatles Rock Band game! Rest In Peace George.

Alex Turner

The first song I heard from Alex Turner was ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and what a song it was! It was like a rump steak; Raw, Rugged and Bleeding with passion! Alex’s opening few bars in this song blew me away as a guitarist and as a person. How could this fresh faced 19 year old just enter the industry without any advertising or promotion, and enter his bands first single at NUMBER ONE! The guitaring on his début album also amazed me and songs like ‘Still Take You Home’ and ‘Mardy Bum’ still do to this day. He’s not as fresh faced these days and his side project ‘The Last Shadow Puppets’ has taken him down a darker route. Others dislike this side of his writing but I still think it suits him. It’s opened some avenues in his ability that seem a throwback to the 60’s. Which is Great! Alex has moved through many different styles, from him wiritng about jumping taxi’s and chatting up girls, to his now darker psychedelic side. One thing remains the same… His ability to pick up a guitar and whack out a riff!!

Jimi Hendrix

Wow! This guy was a L-E-G-E-N-D! I don't think anyone can argue him being on this list or any list for that matter. Rolling Stone Magazine put him at #1 of the 100 Guitarists. Why? Well it's only because of the small fact that he was the greatest guitarist that ever lived! The guitaring this guy could do with his baby toe is probably better than I could ever do with my two hands. I can always remember the first time I heard Hendrix's guitar whail. I was 12. I was round my friends, and I'd only been playing for a week or two. I don't think I've ever been so amazed in my life. As a young aspiring guitarist, to hear the sounds that Jimi's guitar was making was unbelievable, astounding and indefintaley inspiring. It blew me away and still does to this day. My favourite Hendrix track is 'All Along The Watchtower' And I know this is a Dylan song, but that's the reason why it's my favourite Hendrix song, because he completely makes it his own, there's barely a shade of Dylan left in the song. The Hendrix legend will always live on! RIP!!!

Bob Dylan

Up until about 2 years ago I wasn't much of a Dylan fan. Well it wasn't that I wasn't a fan, it was more that I didn't know much about him. Then one friend who I looked up to musically told me to listen to a few of his songs. And as of that day I fell in love with Dylan. His songwriting ability is truly incredible. He's Inspired so many guitarists up and down the years including the man just above him in my list. I find it quite odd and surprising that Dylan didn't make it into Rolling Stone Magazines 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time. When I looked through the list I was shocked that he wasn't there, I really thought he would be. Anyway back to this guys music. Some of the greatest songs ever created were by this man and what's more some great guitar classics aswell. Take my favourite Hendrix song, 'All Along The Watchtower' such a great song on Hendrix's part but that stems from the simple chord progression on the original Dylan song. Another song that's often highly regarded within the guitaring world is 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' I remember reading a Total Guitar edition a few years ago where they tabbed how to play it and it was just a simple chord progression. I suppose Dylans Guitaring maybe wasn't up to scratch for Rolling Stone Magazine, however when you think of all the bands and artists he inspired The Beatles, Hendrix and Guns 'N' Roses to name but a few, you really have to sit back and take notice. Especially when these people that he inspired are considered some of the worlds greatest guitarists; Harrison, Hendrix, Slash. Bob Dylan is a Legend! 34 Studio Albums. Cant. Argue. With. That.

Albert Hammond Jnr/Nick Valensi

Ok, so I know this is two guitarists but there is good reason for that which I will get to later on. Firstly let me tell you why I think the Strokes should be here. They are here because the Strokes are probably the most important guitar band of the 21st Century. Now I know I'm going out on a limb here but they are in my eyes the best guitaring band to emerge out of the 21st Century. They produced three albums in total but on these albums were some truly amazing guitar tracks. These include 'Someday' and '12:51'. But the most notable of tracks from the New York Quintet are 'Reptilia' and 'Last Nite'. Reptilia has an amazing riff going through the verses and as for Last Nite, well if you don't know this song and solo then I won't really consider you as a guitar fan. This then brings me to why I have both guitarists here when really Nick Valensi is mainly the lead for The Strokes, well this is because on some tracks the most obvious being Last Nite, Albert Hammond Jnr pumps out the lead and especially the solo. Its why I fell in love with the strokes, that one solo that just hooked me in. When I first heard this at around about the age of 13 I thought "I'm never gonna be able to play anything like that!" But when I actually tried it, I found that it wasn't as hard as I first thought. Its a short solo that in its simplicity, gives so much depth to the song, and when its heard anywhere, for an Alternative music lover it instantly strikes a chord and gets air guitars plucking! In fact if you check out my 'About Me' page you will see me air guitaring to this very solo in the bottom picture.

Gaz Coombes

For those of you who don't know who Gaz Coombes is, he is the lead guitarist in an English band called Supergrass. For those of you who don't know them I suggest you look them up, especially their debut album 'I Should Coco.' Anyway, again with a lot of people on this list I wasn't always into Supergrass, I mean I do remember liking about two of their songs but that was only when I heard them on the radio. I can't remember what it was that made me decide to download them but something just clicked. I downloaded their discography and since then I have loved every one of their songs. They are one of those bands that don't seem to have a bad song on any album, if you know what I mean. The first song of theirs that I ever heard was 'Alright' and although this song had a piano based intro the solo on this was so melodic and beautiful. However once you get to know Supergrass and Gaz Coombes as a guitarist, you really see that he's very accomplished at what he does. His most recent Supergrass album had some amazing guitar riffs on it, 'Diamond Hoo-Ha' being one of the best with a dirty thick riff over the verse parts. One of my favourite songs from Gaz Coombes is one that is slightly slower with a great guitar riff, its called 'Time.' Anyway Gaz Coombes has influenced me greatly in my guitar playing, especially some of his later stuff with some nice riffs.

Angus Young

So Angus Young, a Great British guitarist. Well British-born anyway, I'm claiming that! He's a great guitarist, I think everyone knows that. Although again Rolling Stone Magazine have surprised me by putting Angus way down the bottom of their list at #96 which I think is completely ridiculous. Most guitarists rate Angus Young as one of the pioneers of guitar and definately one of the most importantly people in Rock history. His dirty blues solo's and amazing rock riffs should leave him sitting above 30th at least. Anyway I think I've ranted too much about Rolling Stone Magazine tonight. The great thing about Angus Youngs guitaring is that it has a range of so many different levels. I remember when I first started playing I wanted to play like Angus Young, and I could. It didn't take me and my friend too long to learn the basics to 'Back In Black' and when that happened I felt great. I felt like I was an amazing guitarist. And that's what Angus's playing does to you. You've got 'Hells Bells' for a more intermediate guitarist and then you have all of his bluesy solo's for the more advanced guitarist. Its amazing. I don't think there are many guitarists out there where an 11 year old beginner can sound to a non-guitarist just as good as a 50 year old advanced player, but thats the beauty of AC/DC's songs, and Angus's playing and writing. I think without Angus Young and AC/DC, guitaring wouldn't be the same today, and my guitaring definately wouldn't.

Suppose thats the end of the list now. This list was a very hard list to make and took me a lot of time and effort. There were a few more guitarists that could have been in the list but at the end of the day I had to put pen to paper otherwise I would have been there all day. How about you make your own list of the top 10 guitarists who have inspired you? It's a good little exercise, and it might even reignite a passion for a guitarists songs that you haven't played in a while.

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radfordboy87's picture

Absoloutly brilliant article, love it and agree completely!