5 Guitarists Who Made Rock History

by Alain Abou Atmeh, May 26, 2017 . 3 min read

5 Guitarists Who Made Rock History

The history of rock music is filled with influential guitarists. Their distinctive techniques and styles have contributed to the development of the ever-expanding body of music we identify as rock and roll. The list of rock guitarists who have revolutionized the genre since its dawn in the late 1940s is impressive.

Here, we take a look at 5 guitarists who made rock history.

1. Jimi Hendrix

During his short career (he died at age 27), Jimi Hendrix invented a new vocabulary of electric guitar techniques and sounds. He combined the innovative use of feedback, distortion, and chord voicings with intuitive soulfulness while pushing the envelope of live performance with his flamboyant stage presence.

He made history with hits like “Hey Joe“, “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady,” along with his psychedelic version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Jimi Hendrix exploded our idea of what rock music could be. He manipulated the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio, and the stage.” – Tom Morello, Rage Against the Machine

2. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton was a groundbreaking blues stylist playing with the Yardbirds and then John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. That was before establishing himself as a guitar superhero playing with Cream and Derek and the Dominos. His signature vibrato technique, wah-wah pedal artistry, and melodic solos have made him one of the most influential guitarists in history.

He burns it up in riffs in “Crossroads“, “White Room” and “Have Your Heard” while baring his soul in “Bell Bottom Blues.

According to Guitar World magazine, Eric Clapton is “one of the most lauded guitarists in the universe.”

3. Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page pioneered power riffing before heavy metal was ever a thing. Wanting to explore his ideas for improvisation and acoustic texturing, in 1968, he formed a new guitar-focused band called Led Zeppelin. It was “a marriage of blues, hard rock and acoustic music topped with heavy choruses.”

Guitarists today hold up “Dazed and Confused“, “Heartbreaker” and “Kashmir” as prime examples of Page’s genius.

“Listening to what Jimmy Page does on guitar can transport you… He had this vision of how to transcend the stereotypes of what the guitar can do.” – Joe Perry, Aerosmith

4. Keith Richards

As the stoic alter ego to Mick Jagger’s loose-hipped strut on stage, Keith Richards developed his iconic sound by laying his lean, muscular riffs on top of powerful themes and using open-chord tunings borrowed from the Delta blues.

Classics like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Gimme Shelter” showcase what famed sessions guitarist Chris Spedding calls “direct, incisive and unpretentious” playing.

“Keith finds the tuning that allows the work – the fretting, muting strings – to get out of the way of what he’s feeling.” – Nils Lofgren, E Street Band

5. B.B. King

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King is thought by many to be the most influential guitarist of all time. He introduced solo techniques such as string bending and the “butterfly” vibrato that would help define the rock and roll guitar sound.

Listen to his solos in “Three O’Clock Blues“, “The Thrill Is Gone” and “Sweet Little Angel” for the epitome of blues perfection.

“He plays in shortened bursts, with a richness and robust delivery. And there is a technical dexterity, a cleanly delivered phrasing.” – Billy Gibbons, ZZ Top

Well, it was nearly impossible to pick only 5 guitarists who made rock history. We’re sure that you’ve got many more names to add to our list! Let us know who else you think made rock history.



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

History has witnessed a plethora of guitar geniuses, like the late Eddie Van Halen, who passed away this year — but not after revolutionizing guitar playing and bringing the tapping technique to the forefront.

Ethan Brookes
Jan 7, 2021 . 4 min read

The six best guitar solos of 2020 present a who’s who of top guitar players today. Luckily for all of us, it seems like many of the biggest names in guitar used the time in quarantine to produce top notch material.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 18, 2020 . 4 min read

The musicians we lost in 2020 were highly influential and contributed immensely to culture.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 14, 2020 . 4 min read

The seven best guitar apps of 2020 will be of great use for most guitarists. Even though we faced unparalleled challenges this year, creators did their thing and provided value in 2020.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 11, 2020 . 4 min read

Shopping for Christmas gifts for guitarists? You’ve come to the right place! Despite all the challenges 2020 has bestowed upon us, there is still reason to celebrate.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 4, 2020 . 4 min read

The five best websites for guitar tabs are a great resource. They contain thousands of songs, killer riffs, burning solos, and more.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Nov 7, 2020 . 4 min read

Great female fingerstyle guitarists are on the rise. However, guitar playing is a field dominated by men.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 26, 2020 . 3 min read

There are plenty of bassists that started late. Many of them played another instrument and then jumped to bass later in life.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 23, 2020 . 3 min read

Downpicking exercises are a must for many guitarists. Do you play metal? Better start working on that downpicking today. Do you like Rock? You will definitely be downpicking a while. Do you ever play power chords?

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 16, 2020 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!