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!!