I’ve been playing guitar for over 40 years mainly as a hobby, self-taught being inspired by the players from my early years right up to the current crop of axe men. My style of playing was developed from a combination of the different guitarist I’ve listened to. I didn’t want to imitate them, just use what I could to become a better player. Here’s a list of those players in random order and why they inspired me.
He took the guitar to another level playing in a way that opened my eyes and ears to what six strings were capable of doing. His ability to produce sounds never heard before along with his stage presence created a new place for guitarist to go. Although his time on the world stage was cut short, Hendrix inspired generations of people to learn and improve. Who knows where he would have taken the guitar. The possibilities, like Hendrix, were unlimited. RIP.
From the sixties right up to today he’s still going strong. If you’ve listened to him you probably know his history. Rock, blues, country and so on, this guy can do it all. His solo career speaks for itself and has spanned the decades providing players and fans with a body of music showcasing his ability to play virtually any style he chooses. A survivor from an era that laid the groundwork for the music of today and every time I play, a little bit of Slowhand comes out of me.
Although not a huge influence to my style of playing, he certainly has been for countless others. His resume as a guitarist is impressive to say the least. From his session work on, his ability as a player/composer showed me that the guitar is capable of creating music, not just “loud noise” like my parents used to say. You know THE song and when I played for my mom one day, she changed her opinion about my choice of music. Thank you for that Mr. Page.
If you play guitar and haven’t listened to him, buy some albums (if you can find them) or CD’s and you’ll soon find out why this guy influenced me and many others. From the beginning it was hard for me to explain to other guitarist why I liked Gallagher so much. His albums seemed rather bland to others and even to me at first. Then I saw him live. Simply incredible. No wall of amps or over the top light show. Just a guy with his band playing his ass off. Rock, blues, jazz, acoustic, slide whatever. If it had strings on it, Rory played it. A kind of history book on guitar live. One of my personal favourites. Gone but never forgotten. RIP.
Father of Heavy Metal? Some agree, some disagree. For me the undisputable fact is that he has influenced thousands of people to learn the guitar and obviously played a huge part in the creation of the Heavy Metal genre that still exist today. A riff master second to none. Unique sound and style unlike no other using huge power chords and blistering solos. Part of my musical influences for sure.
First heard him back with Van Morrison, Edgar Winter and then it was Ronnie’s turn. The first Montrose album blew my mind. No holds barred raw raunchy rock and roll followed by more of the same on Paper Money BUT with a slight difference. It had some mellower tracks that got my attention even more. This guy had chops that I needed to explore as a player. Gamma provided even more of his talents and his solo material showcased his musicianship as a guitarist. Truly inspirational and I miss him big time. RIP.
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Brought the blues back to the world stage and I was lucky to have seen his four times. Taken from us at the peak of his career like so many others. The day SRV died, a bit of the blues went with him. Inspiring and influential? Dam right he was and still is. RIP.
Didn’t pay much attention to him until I heard Whiskey Train by Procol Harum. Really got on board when he went solo and been a fan ever since. One of my personal top 5 guitarist. Fell in love with his sound and found a way to incorporate it into what I call my sound now. Big! Full! Huge! The words I use to describe the Trower sound. Very emotional style of playing filling every note with his passion. How can any guitarist not appreciate his ability. Beats me, but I sure do.
Eddie Van Halen
At first I thought he was a flash in the pan but obviously I was wrong. His style gave me a new way to approach the guitar, not that he was the first finger tapper I had heard, but he certainly took it to another level. Almost every hair metal guitarist added it to their solos. In my opinion, none were as good at it as Eddie. Satriani, Vai, Rhodes and millions of others have been inspired by EVH in one way or another. I know I have.
Lastly is Mike Labadie
Who the hell is this? I was 11 years old and this guy had a band playing local bars, parties, even the local fairs. They played at my hometowns fair one summer and when I saw and heard Mike play, that was it. I wanted a guitar and be that guy up there on the stage. Years later I developed a friendship through music with Mike and even joined him on stage for a while as his bass player. You may have a guy like Mike in your history. I learned from and respected him as a guitarist. Sadly Mike passed away and I hold the times we spent jamming close to the heart. Influence by others in many ways, but Mike got me started. RIP.
That’s my top ten. Yours will surely differ and opinions will vary from generation to generation. For me, learning to play the guitar has provided me with decades of musical fulfillment. And it’s fun too!