Monday, September 20, 2010

Top 10 Most Influential Guitarists of the 1960s

I was looking at the Rolling Stone's list of the greatest guitarists of all time--and got to musing if greatest meant the same as most influential.

I concluded it didn't, because the prowess on the frets award probably should go to a jazz guitarist that comparatively few listen to.

How about the top 10 most influential guitarists from a single era? How about the 1960s? A time which began around 1963 and ended in the early 1970s. Here's my thinking:

1. George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney (yes, Paul played guitar on those records too)--I've counted these three guitarists as one because the records they produced inspired at least one generation to play guitar. That's influence.

2. Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor--These guys, of course, played guitar in the Rolling Stones, and as an ensemble they made great and influential guitar-centered records.

3. Bob Dylan--He changed the world when he went electric. Now, that's influence.

4. Dave Davies--One song: "You Really Got Me." His brother Ray wrote the tune, apparently on a piano. But, unless a session guitarist (rumored to be Jimmy Page) sat in, Dave gets the credit. The riff won't go away, and overshadows Ray Davies' other songs, many of which are arguably better.

5. Roger McGuinn--The jingly-jangly sound that was his trademark was lifted by Tom Petty, one of the most important recording artists over the last 3 decades, who, at times, seems to be a Roger McGuinn tribute artist.

6. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir--They influenced the whole jam band movement through their work with the Grateful Dead.

7. John Fogarty--It's easy to forget how important Creedence Clearwater was in the late 1960s. For all intents and purposes, Fogarty was Creedence. Love his version of "Suzi Q."

8. Eric Clapton--Cream. Derek and the Dominos. Period.

9. Jimi Hendrix--Clapton, Hendrix and Jimmy Page (below) were important in launching the influential Album Oriented Rock phase.

10. Jimmy Page--He influenced several generations of air guitarists. Try to listen to Led Zep's "Black Dog" without moving your hands.

Honorable mention: Gram Parsons, who wasn't much of a player, but his vision of Cosmic American Music was critical in spawning the guitar-centered country rock in the 1970s, and later Americana.

Agree? Disagree? Who are your top 10?


Anonymous said...

Look at history of fleetwood mac and read liner notes by guitarists and you will see the name peter green very influential

Anonymous said...

Mike Bloomfield....How quickly we forget!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say this, but you really have this wrong, from a guitarist perspective guys like peter green, jimi hendrix, jimmy page, clapton, had a bigger influence on how the instrument was approached. The Beatles changed popular music but they sure as hell didnt change the guitar. As a result their influence on the instrument is minimal.