If you’re a fan of big, loud riffs that get in your face and get stuck in your ears, you have Dave Davies to thank. He was the guitarist for the Kinks, and when he was at the tender age of seventeen, he recorded “You Really Got Me,” one of the first proto-metal singles.
He was not going wild on the guitar, and he even achieved the unique distortion on “You Really Got Me” by slicing an amp speaker with a razor. Who else would do such a thing all the way back in 1966? The way he says it, nobody else.
That's right, it's the man himself. Many might know him more because his name is on millions of guitars worldwide, but there's a big reason for that. He was an amazingly talented guitarist who pushed music forward every time he started strumming, but his accomplishments have somewhat been covered by his design and construction of the modern electric guitar.
Thanks to that, of course, pretty much everybody else on this list was able to do what they do best. He was active for a long, long time, too – from 1928 all the way until his death in 2009.
Though he's remembered most for his way with words and his lyrics, Simon wasn't too bad at the guitar when it came right down to it. He grew up during the infancy of rock and roll, and then he joined the folk revival during the sixties, becoming one of its biggest stars.
He studied under the acoustic master Bert Jansch and was always looking for new ways to upgrade his own playing. Even at the age of seventy, he could wow people. His songs “Dazzling Blue” and “Kathy's Song” are the best ways to hear his expertise in action.
Combining punk energy and melodic beauty is no easy task, but Tom Verlaine was one of the guitarists who could pull it off seemingly at the flip of a switch. Patti Smith once described his unique sound as “a thousand bluebirds screaming,” and it's hard to argue.
Verlaine took what had been done before, gave it a big spin, and came out with something entirely new, setting his band Television up for big success. The man could squeal, he could solo, and he could run through chords that would send the crowd's head spinning.
Many of us can say we were raised ON great music, but Derek Trucks was raised IN it – he's the nephew of the Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks. He started playing slide guitar before he was ten and was touring just a few years later, at twelve. He was an explorer when he played guitar, doing new stuff that even the old masters marveled at.
Trucks stepped into the family job and the slide-guitar spot in the Allman Brothers Band in 1999 when he was just twenty years old. His solos incorporate different styles of playing to give classical music a new flavor.