Are you considering learning the guitar? You might have seen and been inspired by lead guitarists on YouTube or have listened to them on your Spotify playlist. Their style and exuberance of playing in the moment might have influenced you to consider learning the guitar. Want more inspiration? We compiled a list of 7 inspiring lead guitarists of all time in this post from the rock and country genre to motivate you in your learning journey.
1. Eric Clapton
We decided to start with Eric Clapton. That is because he wasn’t only inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame once, but thrice. He was inducted as a solo artist and once each as the lead guitarist of the Yardbirds and Cream. Yep, that’s how good he is with his craft as a lead guitarist. Also nicknamed ‘Slowhand’, Clapton also won 18 Grammys and ranked number 2 on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists. He has inspired scores of guitar players and is definitely one of the Guitar Gods in music history.
2. George Harrison
A good friend of Eric Clapton, George Harrison is an icon for being a part of the famous Fab Four. Although it was John Lennon and Paul McCartney who got the most attention as the Beatles, Harrison was a key member who crafted the band’s unique sounds while playing the lead guitar. He was also creative with the guitar, often experimenting with the structure of songs and added elements of blues, rock, R&B, and country into his style. He was a two-time Hall of Famer who also showcased his diversity as a lead guitarist playing on the ukulele and the sitar.
3. Jimi Hendrix
Any serious rock and roll guitarist would know who Jimi Hendrix is despite the icon dying young at the age of 27 in 1970. Despite a career spanning only four years, Hendrix received numerous music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. He popularized the previously undesired sounds caused by guitar amplifier feedback and was also the first guitarist to make extensive use of tone-altering effects units in mainstream rock. Hendrix’s first three albums were backed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience backed by Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
4. Joni Mitchell
Most may think the best lead guitarists are all men but Joni Mitchell has done more for female guitarists and songwriters than anyone else back from the 1960s. Her songs reflect philosophical ideals as well as her feelings as a woman, disillusion, and joy. She received nine Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Mitchell rebelled against traditional guitar playing and opted for 50 open-style tunings she dubbed “Joni’s weird chords” creating her own signature sound. Her songs have been covered numerous times and has been named as an influence from Prince to Taylor Swift.
5. Bonnie Raitt
Another female lead guitarist who has made it on this list is Bonnie Raitt. Raitt had gained critical attention but did not have mainstream success until 1989 when she had a major hit with the album ‘Nick of Time’. Her following two albums were multimillion sellers and she also received 10 Grammys for her work. She is ranked number 89 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
6. Keith Richards
It would be blasphemy to exclude Keith Richards from this list. Richards has played as both lead and rhythm guitar for the Rolling Stones since they started in 1962. The Rolling Stone icon often eschewed speed or showiness in favour of chords and rhythms. He is one of the few guitarists who regularly record with an acoustic guitar according to his interviews. He is one of the best guitar gods alive and the fact that he is still playing well into his 70s is an accomplishment in itself.
7. Jack White
If you are wondering why are all the great lead guitarists from the 1960s and if we are still producing any? We are and one of the best lead guitarists from today is Jack White from the White Stripes. The White Stripes produced simple sounds with just the guitar and the drums. They rebooted garage rock and had six highly acclaimed albums before disbanding in 2011. Jack White is known for not only his eccentricity but his minimalist style and his openness in experimenting with whammy and fuzz pedals. His genre-crossing capabilities saw him play with the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather and he now has three successful solo albums under his belt. Although he is not as iconic as the other lead guitarists on this list, he is nevertheless one of the best of this generation.
Ready to get your hands on a guitar and unleash your potential as a future lead guitarist? Join Ritmo Music Studio’s guitar programme. We offer bass, electric, and acoustic guitar lessons as well as one-time trials. Get in touch with us.