Instrumental Inspirations: Best Rock Guitarists Of All Time

FRIDAY!!!! This week we are going to discover some of the best rock guitarists of all time. Many young guitarists get their inspiration from other guitarists who have in one way or another changed the way the world looked at the guitar. Thousands of guitar players have found their way to stardom over the years and many of them left a legacy that will be remembered for many years to come.

Todays post will highlight a select few of these guitar legends, shinning a light on who they are and how they got there. This list is by no means complete nor will be in any particular order.  I can guarantee rock guitarists will be visited in many more posts to come.

The great musicians featured in this weeks instrumental inspirations are:

  1. Jimi Hendrix: November 27th, 1942 – September 18th, 1970
  2. Eric Clapton: March 30th, 1945
  3. Jimmy Page: January 9th, 1944
  4. Eddie Van Halen: January, 26th 1955

Best Rock Guitarists of All Time

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix - Best Guitarists of all time

Jimi Hendrix needs no introduction as a great rock guitarist. Although he only lived to be 27 years old, he made a significant contribution to the world of rock. Many guitarists and music enthusiasts continue to be inspired by what Jimi Hendrix accomplished in his short career. Many consider him to be one of the greatest rock guitar players of all time.

Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington on November 27th, 1942.  It is noted that Hendrix had a difficult childhood, spending much of his time with other family members or family friends. After his mother and father split he had little time with his mother before she past away in 1958. At the age of 15, 1 year after attending an Elvis Presley concert, Jimi received his first guitar which evidently would change his life forever. If you are doing the math that was only 12 years to become one of the greatest guitar players!

In 1959 Hendrix dropped out of school and began working odd jobs while continuing to feed his love for the guitar. In 1961 he joined the United States Army to train as a Paratrooper. Even while enlisted he continued to enjoy music, creating the Band, King Casuals. He was discharged from the army in 1962 due to an injury.

After his discharge from the Army he focused on his music career,  performing as a session musician and playing backup for other musicians such as Little Richards. In 1966 his career took off when he met Chas Chandler, a former member of the Animals. Chandler became Hendrix’s manager. He moved to England where he formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience, who released only 3 albums. The third album, Electric ladyland, achieved number 1 in the US.

Unfortunately, Jimi Hendrix had a bad experience with drugs and died of drug related complications. At the age of 27 on September, 18th 1970 Hendrix left behind a legacy that only took 12 years to create.

Below is a video of Jimi Hendrix performing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969. This was perhaps one of his most memorable performances. A truly electrifying Rendition.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

“Eric “slowhand” Clapton” by Stoned59 – originally posted to Flickr as Eric “slowhand” Clapton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons –

Eric Clapton is a English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has experienced much success throughout his career. Like all the guitarists mentioned today Clapton has been considered to be one of the most influential guitarists of all time.

Eric Clapton was born on March 30th, 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England. he received his first guitar at the age of thirteen but found it to be difficult to play. A couple of years later he picked the guitar up once more and began to play more consistently. Clapton’s main influence was the blues. He spent many hours practicing the blues to learn all the chords.  He would record his practices, listening to them repeatedly until he was confident that he had gotten it right.

Eric Clapton began performing at the age of 16. In the beginning he began busking and performing in pubs. At the age of 17 he joined his first band, The Roosters, whom he played with until August of 1963. Through out the years Clapton has experienced much success with several bands including the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominios. He has also experienced a very successful solo career as a guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Clapton has had many recordings that has become well known to all, including “Layla” and “Tears and Heaven. ”  Clapton actually wrote “Tears in Heaven” for his son Conor who passed away in 1991.

Clapton continues to perform to this day, entertaining audiences all over the world. Below is a video of Eric Clapton performing “Tears in Heaven” in 2013.

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page, English songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer,  is yet another guitarist who has been hailed as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He is best known as the Guitarist of the Rock Band Led Zeppelin but has had many other successes in his career. Perhaps one his most recognized songs is “Stairway to Heaven” which remains a great classic.

Jimmy Page was born on January 9th, 1944 in Heston, Middlesex, England. He started playing the guitar at the age of 12. He did take some lessons but was mostly self-taught. During his school years he would bring his guitar to school daily only to have it taken away and returned after classes were finished.  As a young musician Page admits that he had difficulty finding other players to play with.

In the 1960’s Page began performing as a session musician, performing with other bands and fellow guitarists Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Page became a well known Session musician, becoming a favorable choice for many including producer Shel Talmy. While working as a session musician Page played with many groups such as The Who, The Kinks,  and The Rolling Stones.

In 1965, after several refusals, Page joined The Yardbirds. After a couple of members left the Yardbirds Page reconfigured the group to fulfill previously booked tour dates. 2 new musicians joined the band and Led Zeppelin was formed. Led zeppelin remained together until 1980. During that period they became one of the best selling music groups in the history of audio recording.

Since the end of Led Zeppelin Page has continued to contribute to the music scene. He continues to inspire and influence guitarists around the world. Below is a video of Jimmy page performing “Stairway to Heaven” with Led Zeppelin. An all time favorite of mine.

 Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen

“Eddie Van Halen at the New Haven Coliseum” by Carl Lender – Flickr: Eddie Van Halen. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Eddie Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist of Van Halen. A band he began with his brother Alex and a few friends. Many consider Eddie Van Halen to be one of the worlds greatest guitarists. He is also hailed as one of the most influential rock guitarists of the twentieth century. Eddie Van Halen continues to perform, with his brother Alex, and inspire musicians all over the world.

He was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands on January, 26th 1955. The Van Halen’s moved their family to Pasadena, California in 1962. Initially Eddie and his brother Alex began learning to play the piano. Eddie has admitted that the piano did not interest him. He never really learned to read music. He learned from watching and listening. His next instrument of choice was the drums, which he picked up when his brother Alex started playing the guitar. They soon switched instruments leading to years of music making together.

Van Halen and his brother formed their first band while still in school called “The Broken Combs.” This was the first time that Van Halen first developed a desire to become a professional musician. 1972 marked the beginnings of Van Halen as Van Halen and his brother, Alex, formed another band. The band had several names before the group settled on the name Van Halen, mainly because their vocalist at the time, David Lee Roth, thought the name was cool.  Although the band has went through several singers, they remain to be a popular rock group today.

Van Halen’s style has become a major influence to guitarists of their generation and beyond. This style includes two-handed tapping, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato and tremolo picking.

Van Halen continues to perform and entertain audiences all over the the world. Below is a video of Eddie Van Halen with the band Van Halen performing “Panama” at the 2015 Billboard Awards.

 Now theres some really great guitarists! Time to crank up the stereo and start the weekend!

There are so many guitarists that deserve recognition for their accomplishments. These are just 4 great inspirations who have shaped the sound of rock music and influenced the way guitarists play the guitar. There is absolutely no way I could include all of them in one post. Be sure that I will be taking another look at rock guitarists in the future.

Do you have a favorite that you think should be on the list of the best rock guitarists of all time? If you do please take the time to share in the comment section below. I would love to hear about all musicians. Leave a comment stating who your instrumental inspiration is. They just might find their way into a future blog post.


8 thoughts on “Instrumental Inspirations: Best Rock Guitarists Of All Time

  1. Great article here with some great info on these absolute guitar legends! I agree totally with your choice here, but for me Eric Clapton has always been my hero ever since I fell in love with the movie “Tommy” by the Who. If you haven’t seen it, then treat yourself to an absolutely amazing performance by some amazing artists.

    1. Thanks for the great suggestion! I have not seen “Tommy” but will be looking for it now. Thank you so much for reading my article. I am happy that you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for future articles on more great guitarists.

  2. These are some great guitarists! But you forgot about about John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Pepper; I think he’s amazing!
    What’s fantastic about Jimi Hendrix is that he was a lefty and he taught himself how to play a right-handed guitar; basically learning to play the guitar upside down.

    Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin is fantastic. Stairway to Heaven is one of my favorite songs.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks for reading! You can be sure I will be visiting guitarists again. There are so many of them that deserve to be mentioned. John Frusciante will be added to the list for next time. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

      Stairway to Heaven is one of my favorite songs to play on the guitar. Sounds great on electric and acoustic guitar.

      Thanks for the comment. Stay tuned for future discussions about great guitarists.

  3. Hello Melody,
    this is a very exciting article for me, I am a big rock fan and I try my best on guitars but mainly acoustic. We have been granted with so many talented musicians, what a pleasure for our ears. I admire the ones you mentioned for their great work, I also really enjoy other guys such as Kirk Hammett, Angus Young, Slash and so much more but I think that my preferred one is Joe Satriani. Did you get a chance of listening to his work? I recommend Flying in a Blue Dream and The Extremist albums, both are really good :)


    1. You are absolutely right!! There are many great musicians that provide us with top notch music. Thanks for stopping by and your recommendations! I will be sure to check them out. :)

  4. Whoa, this really speaks inspiring words into my soul. I really never got into these guys’s music but I have heard legends about them. They must of practiced guitar soo much.. omg. I don’t even know how cool it would be to rock like them. I would love to rock and roll and grow my hair out longer than any women I have ever seen ahah. These guys truly were the real slim shadies. I wish I would have been able to live in their time and experience it.

    1. They sure do look like they were having fun doing what they love. Rock Guitarist continue to thrive. Its great really!

      Thanks for the comment!

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