Rock Guitarists

This is by necessity a personal list of guitarists. I’m sure I’ve left some out, and I’ve left them out because I’m just not familiar with their work.

Ritchie Blackmore
Ritchie Blackmore

Banjo Players

This is by necessity a personal list of guitarists. I’m sure I’ve left some out, and I’ve left them out because I’m just not familiar with their work. Some I’ve put in because I really ought to get to know them better! But many of these are the guitarists who have touched me. Oh, by the way, the really good music stopped in 1976!

Ritchie Blackmore

We have to start with him. Of those of his era, like Jimmy Page, for me, Blackmore stands head and shoulders above them. Starting off playing pop-rock and doing sessions for Joe Meek, it all came together when Deep Purple was synthesized. Starting off with slightly psychedelic rock, and Hush which took America by storm, at Ritchie’s behest they sacked a couple of people, brought some others in and took the world by storm with Machine Head and Made in Japan. Ritchie has a reputation for being difficult (or a total asshole) and indeed in the Rainbow years, for terrible pranks and attempts to set keyboard players on fire. If he likes you, fine. If he doesn’t like you, watch out.

Tommy Bolin

One of Deep Purple’s other guitarists was, briefly, Tommy Bolin. After Blackmore left, they got together and suggested names and Tommy’s name kept cropping up. Tommy is the opposite of Blackmore: he’s a feel player, not a technician. I like him. His only album with Purple has a mixed fanbase but his solo albums are well worth checking out. I have them on vinyl.

Bernie Tormé

A guitarist who formed the backbone of Ian Gillan’s solo band, did an ill-judged but actually very good stint in Ozzy’s band, plus Atomic Rooster. I heard some of his later stuff with John McCoy which was rather good too.

Gary Moore

Here’s one I should know better. A great blues-rock player with a lovely, throaty voice.

Robin Trower

Another one I should know better. For example, I had no idea he was in Procol Harum!

Rory Gallagher

Same again. Listening to his stuff makes me wonder why it’s not part of my rotation.

Eric Clapton

He has to be on any list. To be honest, he’s like vanilla ice cream to me. He’s good, but to my mind, there are better. It did take me a while to “get” the outro to Layla though!

Jimi Hendrix

What’s there to say about him? He reinvented the style, stormed Woodstock, had a great band and came to the UK to get great management. I know at least two other guys trying to emulate his style! Deep Purple even covered one of his tracks.

Jeff Beck

Another guy I should listen to much more. He’s the master of understated playing and knows just how to hit the right note.

Honorable mentions

Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, Eddie Van Halen, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Steve Morse, George Harrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Uli John Roth, Brian May, Michael Schenker, Peter Green and Lyndsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac, Scott Gorham and Brian Roberton from thin Lizzy, Paul Kossoff, Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden from Blusesnake and a few I’ve left off (which I’ve been reminded of).

In the overrated department, I’d put John Sykes. It was lovely seeing him guest with Deep Purple for Smoke on the Water, throw his guitar in the air at the climax and have it land on his head!