HOLLYWOOD—Some of the best guitarists of all time have revolutionized music. One of them is Eric Clapton, who rose to the tip during the 1960s as one of London’s most gifted. Clapton’s musical upbringing is heavily embedded in the Delta blues that rose up from Mississippi. It was that style that took Clapton to his heart and throughout his pop music career. The influence of Clapton’s mind-boggling proficiency and his continuing commitment to reigniting the blues canon cannot be overstated. A must-hear is the song Layla.
Let’s take a look at some of the best guitarists in the world; the disco explosion had its share of detractors, however Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers proved them wrong with his unique brand of funk. Rodgers, impeccably arranged funk grooves and angular soloing easily made him one of the best guitarists of the 70s and early 80s, and his influence on new wave pop acts like Duran Duran and even Madonna proves just how ahead of the curve he was.
Headhunted by David Bowie to produce his commercial game-changer, Let’s Dance, Rodgers anticipated pop music’s drive towards clean tones and neat electronic rhythms. The best Chic songs would later be sampled on records such as Modjo’s lady (Hear Me Tonight) and Fatman Scoop’s hip-hop banger Be Faithful, proving that, as the grand master of up-tempo funk, Nile Rodgers remains one of the best guitarists of any era.
Few guitarists boast a sound that is distinctively their own, but Keith Richards’ love of drop tuning puts him ahead of the pack. The Rolling Stones, Richards potent concoction of rock n’ roll, blues and R&B helped lay the foundations for the rise of the stadium-rock phenomenon in the latter part of the 20th century. Songs like (“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”) and (“Gimme Shelter”) invaded our ears with Richard’s guitar-playing, with a raucous, era-defining delight. Who could forget about George Harrison of the Beatles. While, known as the quiet one, he was inspired by rockabilly Carl Perkins. He brought a country-tinged twang to the British invasion party and became adept at delivering sweet-sounding solos that roused spiritual longing and a reverence for nature. For this reason he deserves recognition as one of the best guitarists in history.
The “King of the Blues” BB King is one of the best guitarists to have electrified the blues and popularized it for mass audiences. From the 50s right up to his death, aged 89, in 2015, King was a seminal figurehead for many British blues-boom guitarists. He nicknamed his guitar Lucille in the blues song (“The Thrill is Gone”). King soared with his music and deserves to wear the crown more than anyone.
Who could forget Prince in the song (“Purple Rain”), Prince was also a prolific songwriter, a game-changing icon, rightly regarded as a formidable guitarist. When no less a guitar god than Eric Clapton was asked how it felt being the best guitarist in the world, he replied, “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” High praise, indeed-and more than enough to explain why Prince stands shoulder-to-shoulder among the best guitarists of all time. Chuck Berry was one of the greats. You can hear it in the song, Johnny B. Goode.
Another pioneer was Eddie Van Halen. One of the best guitarists of the 80s, Van Halen’s brainstorming solos harnessed the unique showmanship of heavy metal in “Eruption,” defining the sound of his era so much that no self-respecting teen would be seen dead without a Van Halen cassette in their car. Something unheard of now, since we have streaming services. Even Michael Jackson couldn’t resist inviting him to play on Beat It-no small accolade from the world’s biggest pop star. Let’s not forget Jimi Hendrix who single-handedly revolutionized rock n’ roll with his virtuosic wall of electric blues. He transformed the sound of rock music and truly deserves to be considered one of the best guitarists in history.
Rose’s Scoop: Last but not least is the mastermind behind hard-rock giants Led Zeppelin, he is without a doubt one the best guitarists who ever lived, Jimmy Page’s fusion of blues-rock took the spirit of Jimmy Page into pure magic in which is heard on “Stairway to Heaven.”