From Hendrix to Clapton: Most Influential Guitarists in History 

most influential guitarists

“I believe every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.”, said Jimmy Page once.

From the beginning of the guitar era to the 21st century, many guitarists have defined and modified the use of guitar through their unique signature styles.

When it comes to the most influential guitarists in history, listing them down becomes tricky. Let us journey through history and know some of the most famous guitarists.

Most Influential Guitarists of All Time

1. Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Jimi Hendrix - most influential guitarist

James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix, baptized as Johnny Allen Hendrix, was an American guitarist. He gained popularity in 1966 when he moved to London and formed the Experience. He is one of the most iconic electric guitar players in guitar history.

In 1967 Hendrix gave his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop festival.

For his profound contribution and experimentation, Holly George-Warren of Rolling Stone commented: “Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began.”

Some of Jimi Hendrix’s well-known works are: Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary, to name a few.

Did you know Hendrix had worked in the rhythm section backing other musicians like B.B. King and Little Richard?

2. Eric Clapton (1945-Present)

The pioneer of modern electric blues and rock guitar Eric Pattrick Clapton was featured at number five in Time magazine’s list of top ten guitarists.

He became a household name after his debut in 1963 with the Yardbirds. Primarily a blues guitarist, Clapton has many masterpieces in the classical repertoire, namely, Layla and Lay Down Sally. Clapton’s music was featured in movies like Lethal Weapon in the ’80s.

He grieved the death of his son in Tears in Heaven, which instantly touched the audience’s souls.

Eric Clapton has 18 Grammy Awards and three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his vast contribution to the music industry. He is indeed one of the most influential guitarists.

3. Jimmy Page (1957-Present)

Did you know Jimmy Page was the founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin?

James Patrick Page, known as Jimmy Page on stage, is an English musician and a renowned guitarist. He began his journey as a session musician alongside Big Jim Sullivan.

He is a creative guitarist who is well known for his inventive guitar riff. His signature style includes various alternative guitar tuning, melodic solos, and distorted guitar tones. His guitar work shows the influence of folk and eastern-influenced acoustic work.

Jimmy Page was a member of the English band the Yardbirds before he formed Led Zeppelin. Page is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.

Some of his remarkable works are How Many More Times” and “You Shook Me,” which echo his use of the sound effect. “Friends” and “Dazed and Confused” are examples of his unparalleled contribution to the music industry.

4. B.B. King (1925-2015)

B.B. King

Riley B. King, professionally known as B.B. King, was a blues singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is a tremendous influence on the later-day blues guitarist.

He had pioneered a sophisticated style of guitar soloing and staccato picking.

AllMusic recognized him as “the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century”.

King had earned the nickname “The King of Blues. “He was one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” Albert King and Freddie King. The landmarks of B.B. King’s career are: The Thrill Is Gone, Rock Me Baby, and Why I Sing the Blues.

5. Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

Most influential guitarists - Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry was a child prodigy. He showcased his talent as a teenager. Later he began his career performing with the Johnny Johnson trio. T-Bone Walker deeply influenced him.

Chuck used to play the heated version of Chicago blues. He earned the nickname of the “Father of Rock and Roll.” Chuck has refined and developed techniques of blues music from what the older blues guitarists used to play.

Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene,” and “Roll Over Beethoven” are some of his key works.

6. Prince (1958-2017)


Recipient of many awards and nominations, Prince was one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. His music involved numerous funk, jazz, hip-hop, pop, and rock styles. He had pioneered Minneapolis sound.

He became a household name after the commercial success of the film Purple Rain. He starred in the movie and gave the soundtrack for the same.

He was included into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The tracks which were sold in millions and brought fame to Price are: When Doves Cry and Raspberry Barret.


7. John Petrucci (1967-Present)

John Petrucci

John Petrucci is one of the founding figures of the progressive metal band Dream Theatre. Petrucci is well known for playing seven-string electric guitar. He is respected for his guitar styles.

He is one who championed high-speed alternate picking. John Petrucci includes a combination of metal shredding techniques with a slow emotive soloing style in his guitar style.

He is also a prolific lyricist. To his name, there are some notable songs, such as “Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper“, “The Great Debate,” “In the Presence of Enemies,” and “Through Her Eyes.”

8. Mark Tremonti (1974-Present)

Mark Tremonti

Mark Tremonti is a talented heavy metal guitarist and is one of the most influential guitarists. He was associated with the rock bands Creed and Alter Bridge before forming his band Tremonti in 2011.

Tremonti claimed recognition from the very beginning of his career. He received a Grammy for Creed’s single With Arms Wide Open.

There are many awards and nominations to his name. Some of his great works are A Dying Machine, Marching in Time, Pawns, and Kings.

Did you know he was named “Guitarist of the Year” for 3 consecutive years by Guitar World?

9. Nita Strauss (1986-Present)

Nita Strauss

Nita Strauss is a rock guitarist. She has a successful career as a solo guitarist. Currently, she is the touring guitarist of Demi Lovato.

Strauss is the first female guitarist with her signature style with the Ibanez guitar. She has her own model – the Ibanez JIVA10.

Strauss is recognized as a celebrity guitar teacher as well. She is regularly featured in magazines like Guitar World and Guitar Player.

Did you know she was ranked No. 1 on Guitar World’s list of “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know”?

10. Tosin Abasi (1983-Present)

Tosin Abasi

Tosin Abasi is an American musician and guitarist. He is the founder and lead of the progressive metal band, Animals as Leaders.

Abasi is a genius who has played a variety of guitars. The number reached 100 though many of them were sold off in 2020.

As a leader of Animals as Leaders, he has five albums to his name. Parrhesia is the most recent release of the band.

11. Steve Vai (1960-Present)

Steve Vai - most influential guitarists

Steve Vai is the most successful heavy rock metal guitar virtuoso. He began his career at the age of 18 with Frank Zappa. He began as a solo artist in 1983 and released 8 solo numbers to date.

Vai’s first solo album was Flex-Able, and Passion and Warfare is his most successful release. He is described as a “highly individualistic player” and part of a generation of heavy rock and metal guitarists in the 1980s.”


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Who is the world’s no 1 guitarist of all time?

Jimmy Page is considered to be the world’s no 1 guitarist of all time.

Who is the most skilled guitarist of all time?

Jimi Hendrix is the most skilled guitarist among many other talented guitarists.

Which famous guitarist is self-taught?

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Prince are some famous self-taught guitarists.

Who is the fastest guitar player?

Jimmy Taylor is the fastest guitarist to date.

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Many guitarists have contributed to the music industry and enriched it. Nobody can live in the vacuum of music.

With these most influential guitarists, we find inspiration to live through music. Be it a number of Chuck Berry or Joe Satriani – without them, the present-day picture of guitar music could not have been so refined.

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