The Best Electric guitarists in the Universe – My favourites.

Now this is difficult because it is so subjective. I do not like guitarists because they are technically brilliant but purely on how good they sound to my ear. Thus I rule out people like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani because I find them boring.

The very best is easy – Jimi Hendrix stands out for me above everyone. Nobody has come near to the showmanship, skills or excitement – let alone his experimental techniques.

After that it is not so easy. Elmore James stands out for me because I just adore that ringing slide guitar sound he creates.

Then there’s Bo Diddley who created such an incredible and unique rhythmic sound – his jungle beat.

Peter Green is the top British guitar man for me. The beauty of those clean notes is just chilling. Seeing him live was exquisite.

Paul Kossof of Free was another unique player. Seeing him perform was so exciting. He produced such power.

Jeff Beck brought such innovation to the Yardbirds that he sent them into a different plane. Just listening to those early tracks is amazing.

Then there’s Jimmy Page. He was present on most of those sixties singles – the ultimate studio session man creating all those exciting licks that we know so well. Then out in front of the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin – and with Roy Harper.

Mick Taylor was another great guitarist who came out of John Mayall’s band. His work with the Stones was sublime and he was responsible for some of their best stuff.

Going back to the beginning of Electric guitar we had the superb Johnny Guitar Watson  and T-Bone Walker.  Johnny created that long lead that enabled him to do his tricks and I remember being enthralled by T-Bone playing his guitar with one hand while walking it around the stage – so delicate and amazing.

Then there’s Buddy Guy with his guitar histrionics and Stevie Ray Vaughan  who was so exciting. Johnny Winter who brought Muddy Waters back to life and Keith Richards who provided those memorable Stones licks.

Eric Clapton was so superb with Cream but has rarely captured that same intensity. But Pete Townsend drove the Who to greatness with those guitar heroics. Oh how I wish I could see him as that young man leaping and windmilling around. Then Neil Young is an underrated guitarist and I do like Robbie Kreiger of the doors with his great slide work and Jeremy Spencer did fabulous Elmore James impersonations.

Jack White was the man that brought that great raw sound back, superb riffs and sheer excitement. I thought White Strypes were so exciting to see live.

If only Zoot Horn Rollo was still playing. How I would have loved to have heard that long lunar note once more!!

I guess we all have our favourites!

So many great guitarists. So who are the present day guitar heroes?? Please update me!!

8 thoughts on “The Best Electric guitarists in the Universe – My favourites.

  1. I like to correct that comment about Jimmy Page.
    The truth of the matter is Jimmy was in position #3 at best during his London studio sessions recording period. He was in fact on very few records that were successful – as is evident when looking at the list.
    No. 1 was without doubt Big Jim Sullivan, with Vic Flick at #2.
    Most of the hits Jimmy played on would be very hard to determine that he was there as he was playing notes by numbers and very seldom had any opportunity to make his own mark on a recording. There’s really only a handful of examples where one could say, “hey, that’s Jimmy Page”.
    I could list them for I’m not here to show off.

    1. In my mind, Richard Thompson is one of the greatest living guitarists in the world, and currently at the top of my list.

      1. I know the list well if not off by heart and have collected every 45, although most are too awful to play. There’s maybe a decent dozen tracks out the lot of them up to 1966, the rest are bubblegum rubbish. It was after when he wasn’t playing sessions for the money and doing favours for friends when the tracks were so much better.
        Big Jim Sullivan’s listing is endless.

      2. Well I checked out Big Jim’s list and it was pretty similar to Jimmy’s. Both were much in demand and both appeared on some appalling singles and some good ones. They were even on the same ones.
        I think both deserve credit.

  2. Much of it is a case of “just how bad can it get”. What some of these producers were trying to come up with I’ll never know. But I do love to hear truly terrible records, but just the once and I’ve got some, I can tell you.
    Naturally it would be similar as there only were a handful of studios and very few independently run as almost all were owned and managed by the major labels, with Decca and Columbia being the two biggest “pop” labels. There only were so many Pop music records being made. It wasn’t New York City! However, it could not compare in terms of quantity as Sullivan was considerably more experienced, versatile and by far the better player than Page and also did large-scale work with the orchestra’s, John Barry, for instance.
    Page recorded mostly for Decca studios, some for Columbia and a few for Oriole and several others, but his bread and butter was with Decca and Decca’s 3rd choice at that. Whereas Sullivan was all over and had been doing sessions for years before and after Page’s session tenure. Sullivan played on an immense number of sessions and you could add a zero to the number that Page played on. So I’d re-check whatever list you looked at or find a more accurate one. Music info can often be desperately poor quality on the internet unless you know where to go. Wikipedia, most folk’s first port of call can be ridiculously unreliable and wholly inaccurate.
    Page was only a part-time session musician between 1962 and 1964, whilst he was a college student. Sullivan was big-time in full-time employment working for many labels. In early `64, Page wasn’t even playing any sessions for others as he was a member of Mike Hurst and The Method followed by Mickey Finn and The Blue Men.
    It wasn’t until mid `64, when he finally threw the towel in at art school did he become a full-time session musician, with his first session for John Barry on Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” playing second rhythm to Vic Flick’s lead guitar. His follow up was Dave Berry’s “The Crying Game”, again on second rhythm to Sullivan’s lead guitar. That was mostly the pattern for Page in `64 with a couple of exceptions.
    He stopped being a full-time session musician upon joining The Yardbirds in April 1966, so effectively only had a short tenure on a full-time basis, at less than two years. There’s no doubt he was on some great sessions `66-68 until Zeppelin, but not that many.
    Occasionally they, Page and Sullivan were on the same ones, usually organised by Sullivan when he knew they needed a second. Page always played second to him. The reason being Page couldn’t as yet at that stage read music charts. but he was learning and eventually mastered them just about in time for him to leave session work and join The Yardbirds as 2nd lead and rhythm guitar to Jeff Beck.
    On my collection process over the years I was most often left speechless at the ineptitude of some of these records and many have never been played since the day they were brought home. Some are so bad that I’m ashamed to own them and keep them hidden away. Heinz & The Wild Boys’ Digging My Potatoes is criminal and Glyn Johns’ Like Grains Of Yellow Sand deserved castration, at least! There are others but my stomach has started to roll at the thought of them so I’ll leave it here if that’s alright? Lol.

    1. Wallace – thank you for such an in depth comment. It is not something I have gone into in great detail. Surveying those lists showed there were a number of extremely minor and unknowns along with a wide range of successful stuff. Versatility comes to mind and ‘taste’ obviously doesn’t come into it.

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