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Buddy Guy

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17: Musical artist Buddy Guy performs live during The Experience Hendrix Tour presented by Gibson Guitars at The Beacon Theater on October 17, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Wintrow/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Buddy Guy

Wintrow/Getty

A key influence on Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray
Vaughan, Buddy Guy put the Louisiana hurricane in 1960s electric
Chicago blues as a member of Muddy Waters' band and as a house
guitarist at Chess Records. A native of the Baton Rouge area, he
combined a blazing modernism with a fierce grip on his roots,
playing frantic leads heavy with swampy funk on Howlin' Wolf's
"Killing Floor" and Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle" as well as on
his own Chess sides and the fine series of records he made with
harp man Junior Wells. One of the last active connections to the
golden age of Chess, Guy still plays with his original fire.

30

Buddy Guy

A key influence on Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray
Vaughan, Buddy Guy put the Louisiana hurricane in 1960s electric
Chicago blues as a member of Muddy Waters' band and as a house
guitarist at Chess Records. A native of the Baton Rouge area, he
combined a blazing modernism with a fierce grip on his roots,
playing frantic leads heavy with swampy funk on Howlin' Wolf's
"Killing Floor" and Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle" as well as on
his own Chess sides and the fine series of records he made with
harp man Junior Wells. One of the last active connections to the
golden age of Chess, Guy still plays with his original fire.

29

Ron Asheton

Nobody ever accused Ron Asheton of being a nice guy. "Any guitar
player worth his salt is basically a thug," his lead singer, Iggy
Pop, once said. "They test you with that thug mentality. They ride
you to the edge." Asheton was the Detroit punk who made the
Stooges' music reek like a puddle of week-old biker sweat. He
favored black leather and German iron crosses onstage, and he never
let not really knowing how to play get in the way of a big, ugly
feedback solo. This spring, Asheton joined Iggy and the other
Stooges for their first gigs in nearly thirty years. He still
sounds like a thug.

28

Stephen Stills

"He's a musical genius," Neil Young said of Stills in a 2000
interview. He should know. The two have been bandmates and
competing lead guitarists on and off since 1966: in Buffalo
Springfield, the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and the
short-lived Stills-Young Band. But those groups' ego-and-drug
dramas have obscured Stills' prowess as a musician — he
played nearly every instrument on Crosby, Stills and Nash's 1969
debut — and especially as a guitarist. In Springfield and
CSNY, Stills challenged and complemented Young's feral breaks with
a country-inflected chime. And a continuing highlight of CSNY shows
is Stills' acoustic picking in "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" — a
paragon of unplugged beauty.

27

Mark Knopfler

Dire Straits founder and solo artist Mark Knopfler emerged at a
time when guitar virtuosos were spurned by punks and New Wavers.
Yet from the first stinging notes of "Sultans of Swing," Knopfler's
roots-based approach and supple, burnished leads found almost
universal appeal. A fingerpicker who favors Fender Stratocasters
— a Knopfler-designed Strat was introduced in July as part of
Fender's "Artist Series" — he's known for his rich tone,
sinuous melodicism and rangy, fluid solos. "My sound is fingers on
a Strat," he once said.

26

Tom Morello

In the early days of Rage Against the Machine, Morello watched
local California metal guitarists play "as fast as Yngwie
Malmsteen" and realized, "That wasn't a race I wanted to run." So
he began to experiment with the toggle switch on his guitar to
produce an effect like a DJ scratching a record. The result was
true rap metal and a redefinition of the guitar's potential.
Morello absorbs hip-hop mixology as a true son of Grandmaster Flash
and the Voodoo Child, making his riffs rumble and boom like
crosstown turntable traffic.

25

Freddy King

King was born in Texas, but in 1950, when he was sixteen, his
family moved to Chicago, where he would sneak into clubs to play
with Muddy Waters' band. His style was a mixture of country and
urban blues, and his instrumental sides such as "Hide Away," "Just
Pickin" and "The Stumble," from the early Sixties, had immense
impact on the British blues scene — Eric Clapton says King
was one of the first guitarists he tried to copy. His playing
employed taut, melodic riffs that erupted into frantic, wailing
solos on the upper strings. King, who also recorded for the
Cotillion, Shelter and RSO labels, died at forty-two of heart
failure in 1976.

24

The Edge

Rarely has a guitarist achieved so much by playing so little. Most
of what the Edge (real name Dave Evans) played on U2's early
albums, from Boy in 1980 to the '87 global smash The Joshua
Tree
, can be described thusly: circular skeletal arpeggios
swimming in oceans of reverb; few conventional chords or solos. But
the elegant urgency of the Edge's minimalism on those records
perfectly framed and fueled the earnest, flag-waving theatricality
of Bono's voice. With U2's swerve into apocalyptic dance music on
1991's Achtung Baby, the Edge coated his riffs in extreme
distortion and electronic treatments but without betraying his
playing credo: Less is most.

23

Warren Haynes

Haynes is possibly the hardest-working guitarist on the planet
— a cornerstone of the Allman Brothers Band, leader of Gov't
Mule, pivotal member of Phil Lesh and Friends. Displaying
controlled intensity, he's a meaty and masterful slide player, as
well as a soulful singer and songwriter. Steeped in the uncut blues
of Muddy Waters and Elmore James, and especially bitten by the
heavy rock-trio sound of Cream and Mountain, Haynes has kept the
blues-rock

22

Mike Bloomfield

Bloomfield's reputation as the American white-blues guitarist of
the 1960s rests on a small, searing body of work: his licks on Bob
Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, his two LPs with the Paul
Butterfield Blues Band and his sublime jamming with Al Kooper on
1968's Super Session. Born in Chicago, Bloomfield grew up
in local blues clubs, where he worked with many black legends. His
modal runs and jabbing breaks were executed with pinpoint force in
a ringing-bell tone. Bloomfield's gifts faded as he fell into drug
abuse. He died of an overdose in 1981.

21

George Harrison

As the Beatles' lead guitarist, George Harrison never played an
unnecessary note. In his solos and fills, he prized clarity and
concision above all things. But every note made history, from the
Cavern Club R&B frenzy of his breaks in "I Saw Her Standing
There" to the hallucinogenic splendor of his contributions to
Revolver and the matured elegance of his work on Abbey
Road
. John Lennon and Paul McCartney dominated the Beatles'
revolutionary course through 1960s pop, but Harrison defined the
musical character of those innovations in his explorations of
studio technology, tonal color and Indian scales. At the same time,
he never strayed from the terse, earthy qualities of his first
love, 1950s rockabilly, and his biggest idol, Sun Records star Carl
Perkins. Harrison's final album, Brainwashed
recorded in the years before his death from cancer in 2001 —
features some of his finest twang.

20

James Burton

James Burton mainly plays a dark-red '53 Fender Telecaster that he
bought in a Louisiana music store when he was thirteen. He's
performed a lifetime's worth of hot licks and fluid solos on it, on
songs such as Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q" and Ricky Nelson's "Hello
Mary Lou." As an in-demand Sixties sessionman, Burton played
often-uncredited guitar and Dobro on countless records by artists
ranging from Buck Owens and Buffalo Springfield to Frank Sinatra.
In the Seventies he anchored the touring bands of Elvis Presley and
Emmylou Harris. Burton's country-rock style combines flatpicking
and fingerpicking; he's also a master of a damped-string,
staccato-note "chickin' pickin'."