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The Top Ten Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

After counting down the greatest of musical icons of all time from one of a kind drummers to out of this world frontmen, we now come to the engine of the modern band. The guitarist is the most distinct limb of the band's body, with some of the greatest moments in history in thanks to the man on the strings. Here are the top ten greatest guitarists in history!

10. Brian May

Despite earning an advanced degree in physics, the laboratory is not the place where Brian May schools his competition. For over half a century, the Queen guitarist has been tearing up stages with his electrifying performances.

Brian May was a soldier that was so gifted with his weapon that he was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 for "services to the music industry. This is a feat that can't be argued against as any Queen song is practically a national anthem for the United Kingdom.

9. Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana manages to embody his soul into the sound waves via his guitar. Around the world, listeners feel the emotional, Latino spiced riffs of the Mexican every single time his guitar is strummed.

His passion is prevalent in everything he does as he described, "The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace."

8. B.B King

The King of the Blues had lived with type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years and during that time frequently used his celebrity to raise awareness about the disease that took the lives of both his mother and one of his daughters.

As well as his contributions to the fight against diabetes his contributions to music in the 20th century and beyond are immeasurable. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists.

7. Keith Richards

"To make a rock'n'roll record, technology is the least important thing." The Rolling Stones lead guitarist once claimed. This statement proved true as despite the continued technological changes throughout the century, the Stones' music has remained timeless with contribution from Richards' strings.

To this very day, the Stones continue to headline festivals and sell out stadiums all over the globe with crowds going crazy to Richards' solos.

6. John Frusciante

John Frusciante is a name that not many people know but he is the man behind some of the most funky Red Hot Chili Peppers anthems. The California resident has displayed different styles in his time with the Chili Peppers ranging from rock-funk to a beautiful melodic tone.

His ability to improvise jam never fails to amaze people as he plays a different solo at every gig and the Peppers sets always include some nice grooves in-between songs. Just try listening to the solo on Don't Forget Me and you will hear an example of how Frusciante plays solos to compliment the song rather than draw attention to himself. A key skill for a true band member.

5. Slash

Slash is one of the most distinctive and in-demand guitarists of the last 30 years, equally confident working in hard and modern rock. As the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses, Slash cemented his reputation as a fluid, articulate player, but once he left that band during the ‘90s, he continued to build on his legacy by delivering high-profile guest spots on other people’s albums, not to mention signing on to be a part of the supergroup Velvet Revolver.

Some of pop culture's most famous and groundbreaking rifts come from Slash in the form of Sweet Child O' Mine, Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle.


4. Chuck Berry

The pioneer of Rock and Roll as we know it only just left us a few months ago but his legacy changed the face of music forever. Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its inauguration in 1986; he was cited for having "Laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance."

Before Chuck Berry, a lot of rock and roll music was piano-driven. Berry took motifs from the piano-playing of colleagues like Johnnie Johnson and "converted" them into guitar parts. He also very cannily fused popular forms like country music, rockabilly, and rhythms and blues.

3. Jimmy Page

As a producer, composer, and guitarist, Jimmy Page helped make Led Zeppelin a prototype for many future rock bands, and was one of the major driving forces behind the rock sound of that era, influencing a host of other guitarists.

Techniques such as his sped up, downstroke guitar riff in "Communication Breakdown" is cited as guitarist Johnny Ramone's inspiration for his punk-defining, strictly downstroke guitar strumming, while Page's landmark guitar solo from the song "Heartbreaker" has been credited b Eddie Van Halen as the inspiration for his two-hand tapping technique after he saw Led Zeppelin perform in 1972.

2. Eric Clapton

Long before Eric Clapton embarked on a solo career, he was already a genuine rock 'n' roll icon. In the late 1960s, as his career with proto-supergroup Cream was in full flight, graffiti in New York and London screamed: "Clapton is God!"

His intricate guitar style became the bedrock of several bands in the late 1960s and early 70s - including John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Cream and the supergroup Blind Faith. Eric Clapton was awarded a CBE in 2004's New Year's Honours list due to his contributions for British music.

1. Jimi Hendrix

If there's ever an example of an artist turning an instrument into a living species? It's Jimi Hendrix. "Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music." The American once proclaimed, and he proved just that as his influence lives in to this day.

Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of music.

Perhaps the most famous southpaw you won't see in the boxing ring, he treated his guitar as the love of his life. When it came to showing up Eric Clapton, who was performing later on the same night during Hendrix's early career, he made the ultimate sacrifice by lighting his beloved inverted guitar on fire on stage!