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Jerry Miller

Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

Miller was tightly tempered on the Pacific Northwest R&B bar
scene before joining the San Francisco ballroom band Moby Grape.
His playing was never self-indulgent, and his soloing was
propulsive, always aware of where the song was headed.

68

Jerry Miller

Miller was tightly tempered on the Pacific Northwest R&B bar
scene before joining the San Francisco ballroom band Moby Grape.
His playing was never self-indulgent, and his soloing was
propulsive, always aware of where the song was headed.

67

Link Wray

Wray is the man behind the most important D chord in history. You
can hear that chord in all its raunchy magnificence on the epochal
1958 instrumental "Rumble." By stabbing his amplifier's speaker
cone with a pencil, Wray created the overdriven rock-guitar sound
taken up by Townshend, Hendrix and others.

66

Vernon Reid

Reid reinvigorated hard rock with shots of soul, jazz and hip-hop.
Reid's solos embraced the free-form abstraction of his early days
as a jazz player, but they flexed enough muscle to bowl over any
Metallica fan.

65

Hubert Sumlin

Sumlin's work on Howlin' Wolf classics such as "Wang Dang Doodle,"
"Back Door Man" and "Spoonful" inspired Keith Richards and an
entire generation of British bluesmen. Wolf's idiosyncratic
phrasing humbled countless sidemen, but Sumlin embellished the
singer's every pronouncement with angular phrases, vibrato-laden
riffs and audacious glissandos.

64

Mick Ronson

This working-class lad from northern England lent musical substance
to David Bowie's theatrical conceits in the Seventies. Ronson, who
died in 1993, was the archetypal flash Brit guitarist, known for
wrenched, physical solos that favor his hero, Jeff Beck. A sharp,
sensitive accompanist, he worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to
Morrissey.

63

Danny Gatton

Never a superstar, Gatton was nevertheless a hero to fellow
guitarists. He could pluck easygoing, banjo-like country rambles or
grind out power chords or create wonderfully melodic jazz
excursions that revealed just a sliver of his massive technique.
Gatton committed suicide in 1994, just as his national profile was
on the rise.

62

Zoot Horn Rollo

"Mr. Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long, lunar note and let it float,"
commanded Captain Beefheart, and the former Bill Harkleroad did
that and much more. Rollo was only nineteen when he cut the
astonishing Trout Mask Replica in 1969; for the next five
years, he brought Beefheart's cubist riffs and science-fiction
Delta blues to life.

61

Ike Turner

Born on the Mississippi Delta, Turner was one of the first
guitarists to successfully transplant the intensity of the blues
into more-commercial music. His sound, built around his own
razor-sharp rhythm guitar, combined four-on-the-floor rock energy,
brash soul shouts and precision execution into a dizzying assault.

60

Jonny Greenwood

Radiohead's two lead guitarists have a symbiotic relationship.
Greenwood is closer to a traditional lead man; those are his unwell
bends at the end of "Just" and "Paranoid Android." O'Brien likes
the wacky noises; the ghostly above-the-nutjangle on OK Computer's
"Lucky" and the high, reverberating pops on Hail to the
Thief
's "2 + 2 = 5" are his handiwork.

59

Ed O’Brien

Radiohead's two lead guitarists have a symbiotic relationship.
Greenwood is closer to a traditional lead man; those are his unwell
bends at the end of "Just" and "Paranoid Android." O'Brien likes
the wacky noises; the ghostly above-the-nutjangle on OK Computer's
"Lucky" and the high, reverberating pops on Hail to the
Thief
's "2 + 2 = 5" are his handiwork.

58

Dickey Betts

From 1969 to 1971, Duane Allman swooped and soared while Betts kept
the music moving with lyrical boogie. After Duane's death, Betts
handled both roles. He also wrote many of the Allmans' best-known
songs, including "Ramblin' Man" and the instrumental "Jessica."

57

Roy Buchanan

In 1971, a documentary about Roy Buchanan aired on public TV; it
was called The Best Unknown Guitarist in the World. The
title remains apt today. Buchanan's gritty blues-rock playing
entranced other guitarists such as Jeff Beck. But the Washington,
D.C., virtuoso never caught the break he deserved, and in 1988, at
age forty-eight, he took his own life while in jail for public
drunkenness.

56

Tom Verlaine

There was punk energy propelling Television, but guitarist Tom
Verlaine was no angry primitive hacking at the strings. He used a
crisp, needling attack and favored long, carefully developed
exchanges with guitarist Richard Lloyd. The result was music of
Coltrane-like depth at a time when the spastic outburst was the
norm.

55

Ritchie Blackmore

The Deep Purple and Rainbow leader is a master of both bottom-line
riffs and jaw-dropping virtuoso flights. It's ironic that despite
his classical leanings, this master technician is best-known for
one of the most simplest riffs of all time: Purple's "Smoke on the
Water."

54

Jorma Kaukonen

Jefferson Airplane's and Hot Tuna's Kaukonen is a gifted
fingerpicker and bluesman who developed a raga-inflected style as
the Airplane's folk rock grew increasingly psychedelic. His
acid-rock peak may be "Spare Chaynge," nine minutes of jamming on
After Bathing at Baxter's that grew out of his admiration
for Cream.

53

Mickey Baker

Baker may have been the busiest session guitarist of the Fifties
— it's his brittle playing that underpins R&B classics
such as Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and the Drifters'
"Money Honey." But it's his million-selling 1956 duet with Sylvia
Vanderpool, "Love Is Strange," that's his crowning achievement.
Those keening licks and hectic chords sound as unearthly today as
they did five decades ago.

52

Lou Reed

Reed's ramrod stroke makes him one of the all-time great rhythm
players, and he brought a thrilling sense of anarchy to his leads.
With the Velvet Underground, he established a sound that owed as
much to free-jazz maverick Ornette Coleman as to "Louie Louie."

51

Paul Kossoff

Kossoff's solos for British hard-rock pioneers Free —
particularly in the radio classic "All Right Now" — are
better-known than his name, but he is admired by guitarists for the
economy of his lines and the purity of his tone. He made his
presence felt by what he did not play, and the exquisite way he
sculpted what he did.

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