23. Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy got used to people calling his guitar style a bunch of noise – from his family back in rural Louisiana, who chased him out of the house for making a racket, to Chess Records heads Phil and Leonard Chess, who, he says, "wouldn't let me get loose like I wanted" on sessions with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter. But as a new generation of rockers discovered the blues, Guy's fretwork became a major influence on titans from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page. Guy's flamboyant playing – huge bends, prominent distortion, frenetic licks – on such classics as "Stone Crazy" and "First Time I Met the Blues," and his collaborations with the late harp master Junior Wells, raised the standard for six-string fury. His showmanship, complete with midsolo strolls through the audience, remains electrifying at age 75. "He was for me what Elvis was probably like for other people," said Eric Clapton at Guy's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2005. "My course was set, and he was my pilot."
Key Tracks: "Stone Crazy," "First Time I Met the Blues"