9. Jimmy Page
In the 1970s, there was no bigger rock group in the world than Led Zeppelin and no greater god on six strings than Zeppelin's founder-captain Jimmy Page. Nothing much has changed. The imperial weight, technical authority and exotic reach of Page's writing and playing on Zeppelin's eight studio albums have lost none of their power: the rusted, slow-death groan of Page's solo, played with a violin bow, in "Dazed and Confused," on Zeppelin's 1969 debut; the circular, cast-iron stammer of his riffing on "Black Dog," on the band's fourth LP; the melodic momentum and chrome-spear tone of his closing solo in Zeppelin's most popular song, "Stairway to Heaven." Page actually built Zeppelin's sound and might from a wide palette of inspirations and previous experience. In the early and mid-1960s, Page was a first-call studio musician in London, playing on Kinks and Everly Brothers dates and honing his production skills on singles for John Mayall and future Velvet Underground vocalist Nico. And before forming Zeppelin in London in the late summer of 1968 with singer Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones, Page had been the lead guitarist in the final lineup of the Yardbirds.