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100 Best Guitar Players of the '60s and '70s

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These great guitarists will blow your mind and make you question what you think you know about rock music.

These great guitarists will blow your mind and make you question what you think you know about rock music.

When you think about great rock music from the past century, the '60s and '70s stand out as two of the most historic decades for the genre. During this time, musicians began experimenting with a variety of genres and styles, creating completely new sonic textures that pushed guitar music forward in new and exciting directions. Guitar solos became increasing free-form and rhythms became increasing abstract. Many great '80s musicians owe these hippy-dippy guitarists a great deal for paving the way for their extravagant and avant-garde sounds. The concept of the "popular music" changed in the '60s, as bands incorporated jazz and improv into their song structures. The analog recording techniques used by sound engineers in the '60s paved the way for digital recording techniques of the future.

The list below showcases the very best guitarists of the ‘60s and ‘70s. This list is a celebration of guitar players. If you are passionate about the guitar, then you'll definitely have something to say. Feel free to tell me about your favorite guitarists in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Guitar Players of the ‘60s and ‘70s

  1. Jeff Beck (Rock/Blues)
  2. Jimmy Page (Rock)
  3. Ritchie Blackmore (Rock)
  4. David Gilmour (Rock/Psychedelic)
  5. Pete Townshend (Rock)
  6. Chet Atkins (Country/Folk/Rockabilly)
  7. Muddy Waters (Blues)
  8. Joe Pass (Jazz)
  9. Jimi Hendrix (Rock/Blues Rock)
  10. B.B. King (Blues)
The great Jimi Hendrix.

The great Jimi Hendrix.


11. Chuck Berry (Rock N Roll)

12. Peter Green (Rock)

13. John Lee Hooker (Blues)

14. Allan Holdsworth (Jazz Fusion)

15. Paul Kossoff (Rock)

16. Alvin Lee (Rock)

17. Buddy Guy (Blues)

18. Mike Bloomfield (Blues/Blues Rock)

19. Carlos Santana (Rock/Latin Rock/Jazz Rock)

20. Wes Montgomery (Jazz)

The Guitar Movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s

The ‘60s and ‘70s were decades in which many new genres emerged. The folk movement garnered significant attention in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. The blues rock sound also came into its own. That said, it's hard to pin down these musicians. In fact, many of these guitarists were influenced by a variety of genres and techniques.

Many of these artists (including many progressive rock bands) opted to release their music independently. Major record companies took notice of talented bands that were releasing albums independently and wasted no time in signing them to record deals. The amazing tones these guitarists produced led to a revolution in guitar music.


21. Frank Zappa (Rock/Experimental)

22. Eric Clapton (Rock)

23. George Benson (Jazz/Gypsy Jazz)

24. Paco de Lucia (Flamenco)

25. Jan Akkerman (Rock)

26. Al Di Meola (Jazz Fusion/Jazz)

27. Larry Coryell (Jazz/Jazz Fusion)

28. Duane Eddy (Instrumental Rock/Twang Guitar)

29. Keith Richards (Rock)

30. Robby Krieger (Rock)

31. Tony Iommi (Rock)

32. Johnny Winter (Blues)

33. Daevid Allen (Psychedelic Rock)

34. Jimmy Nolen (Blues/Country/R&B)

35. Duane Allman (Southern Rock/Blues Rock/Jam)

36. Brian May (Rock)

37. Joe Walsh (Rock/Blues Rock)

38. Gary Rossington (Southern Rock)

39. John Fogerty (Country Rock/Rock)

40. Hank Garland (Country/Jazz)

The godfather of metal guitar, Toni Iommi.

The godfather of metal guitar, Toni Iommi.

Improvised Guitar Solos in the ‘60s and ‘70s

The "Canterbury scene" that emerged in the '60s and '70s led the way for experimental guitarists. Great guitarists throughout the '80s and '90s incorporated various elements of jazz, avant-garde, and progressive rock in their musical styles. Improvised guitar solos became a popular part of concerts in the '60s and '70s (and this trend has carried on).


41. Michael Schenker (Rock)

42. Link Wray (Rock n Roll/Country/Surf Music)

43. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (Blues/Blues Rock)

44. Billy Gibbons (Rock)

45. Roy Buchanan (Blues/Jazz)

46. Jorma Kaukonen (Psychedelic Rock/Folk Rock/Acid Rock)

47. Steve Miller (Blues/Blues Rock)

48. Gary Moore (Rock/Blues)

49. Dick Dale (Surf Rock)

50. Steve Morse (Southern Rock/Country/Bluegrass)

51. Andy Summers (Rock/Jazz Fusion)

52. Dave Brock (Rock/Space Rock)

53. John Scofield (Jazz/Jazz Fusion/Acid Jazz)

54. Tal Farlow (Bebop/Jazz)

55. Mick Ralphs (Rock)

56. Howard Roberts (Country/Jazz/Blues)

57. Jerry Garcia (Rock/Jam)

58. Ryo Kawasaki (Jazz Fusion)

59. Steve Hackett (Rock/Progressive Rock)

60. George Kooymans (Rock)

The bluesy Eric Clapton.

The bluesy Eric Clapton.

Jazz Fusion of the ‘60s and ‘70s

During the '60s and '70s, many great guitarists formed side projects to have the freedom to create what they wanted. The jazz fusion genre emerged in the late ‘60s, introducing the world to complex instrumental techniques. The jazz fusion genre creatively blended elements of funk, R&B, jazz rock, and world music. Guitarists from this genre took structured experimental improvisation to a whole new level.


61. Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (Rock)

62. Terje Rypdal (Jazz)

63. Scotty Moore (Country/Rockabilly/Rock n Roll)

64. Ted Nugent (Rock)

65. Lonnie Mack (Southern Rock/Blues/Country/Rock)

66. James Burton (Rockabilly/Country/Rock n Roll)

67. Dickey Betts (Southern Rock/Country Rock)

68. Bill Harkleroad (Experimental Rock/Avant Garde/Blues Rock)

69. Steve Hillage (Space Rock/Experimental)

70. Albert Collins (Blues)

71. Pat Metheny (Jazz)

72. John Goodsall (Jazz Fusion)

73. Robben Ford (Jazz/Jazz-Blues)

74. Kerry Livgren (Rock)

75. Eddie Hazel (Funk/Soul)

76. Bo Diddley (Blues)

77. Pat Martino (Jazz/Bop/Soul Jazz)

78. Larry Carlton (Jazz/Smooth Jazz)

79. Steve Howe (Progressive Rock)

80. Scott Gorham (Rock)


81. Robin Trower (Rock)

82. John Abercrombie (Progressive Jazz/Jazz Fusion/Avant-Garde-Jazz)

83. Phil Manzanera (Rock)

84. Grant Green (Hard Bop/Soul Jazz/Jazz)

85. Mick Ronson (Rock/Psychedelia)

86. Lenny Breau (Jazz/Country)

87. Bill Kirchen (Country Rock/Rockabilly/Americana)

88. Neal Schon (Rock)

89. Martin Barre (Rock)

90. Otis Rush (Blues)

91. Barney Kessel (Jazz)

92. John McLaughlin (Jazz Fusion/Jazz)

93. Rory Gallagher (Blues/Rock/Folk)

94. Kazumi Watanabe (Jazz Fusion)

95. Mick Taylor (Rock/Blues Rock)

96. David T. Walker- (Funk/Soul/R&B)

97. Herb Ellis (Jazz)

98. Randy Bachman (Rock)

99. Miller Anderson (Rock/Blues)

100. Gary Green (Progressive Rock)

Other Notable Guitarists of the ‘60s and ‘70s

  • Big Jim Sullivan (Sessions Guitarist)
  • Alex Lifeson (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Uli Jon Roth (Rock)
  • Jim Hall (Jazz)
  • Zoot Horn Rollo- (Rock/Experimental Rock)
  • Charlie Byrd (Jazz)
  • Gabor Szabo (Jazz)
  • Randy California (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Louis Stewart (Jazz)
  • Carl Perkins (Rockabilly)
  • Lou Reed (Rock)
  • Danny Kirwan (Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Jay Berliner (Jazz)
  • Freddie King (Blues)
  • Angus Young (Rock)
  • Joe Perry (Rock)
  • Tommy Tedesco (Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  • Eddie Phillips (Rock)
  • Dave Davies (Rock)
  • Albert King (Blues)
  • Marc Bolan (Rock)
  • Hank Marvin (Rock N’ Roll/Instrumental Rock)
  • Dave Edmunds (Rock N’ Roll/Roots Rock)
  • Johnny Smith (Jazz)
  • Robert Fripp (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Kenny Burrell (Jazz)
  • Sonny Sharrock (Jazz)
  • Attila Zoller (Jazz)
  • Ed King (Rock/Psychedelic Rock)

© 2015 Ansel Pereira


Pop on August 08, 2020:

Angus Young and Joe Perry deserve more than honorable mention.

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