100 Greatest Guitarists

80

Buddy Holly

buddy holly
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Buddy Holly turned a generation of future heroes – George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck – onto the guitar, with an elemental style: an antsy mix of country and blues that merged rhythm and lead; check the push-and-tease phrasing on "It's So Easy," which echoes Holly's growl-and-hiccup vocals. Playing his Stratocaster and fronting a double-guitar-bass-and-drum quartet, Holly essentially invented the rock band. "Listen to the songs on the first three Beatles albums," says John Mellencamp. "Take their voices off and it's Buddy Holly."

Key Tracks: "That'll Be the Day," "Peggy Sue"

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