Born David Jon in Cambridge, England in 1946, Gilmour wasn’t actually the original guitarist for Pink Floyd. After Syd Barret’s departure, Gilmour stepped in and became the band’s lead guitarist and frontman. A fan of distortions and effects, Gilmour’s twist on the electric guitar helped the band become one of the best-selling and most acclaimed acts in all of music history.
By 2012, Pink Floyd had sold over 250 million records worldwide! And honestly, we’re not surprised– if you’ve ever listened to any of their songs, you’ll understand why they were so mind-blowing. Gilmour eventually assumed the helm of the band, producing three more studio albums after Roger Waters’ departure in 1985, before the group disbanded in 2014.
Born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950, the late lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers brought some experience to the band, having led Mudcrutch, and also being a member of the 1980s supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. He sold over 80 million records worldwide, and his band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. And, they’ve got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
But while he led the band, we should definitely give a shout-out to the lead guitarist of the group, Mike Campbell. Known for his simple style, the guitarist is known for never using ten notes if only a couple could do the job just as well. Sure, Petty was good on the guitar, but when he released his first solo album, Full Moon Fever, he actually got Campbell to jump in and record the solos!
Anthony Frank Iommi is next up on our list, and he’s rock royalty. The English guitarist, songwriter, and producer was formerly the lead guitarist and one of the founding members of the heavy metal band, Black Sabbath. Here’s something we bet you didn’t know about Iommi: when he was seventeen he lost the tips of his middle and ring fingers in an accident, which would forever affect his playing style. But Iommi adapted, with this “handicap” in fact contributing to a style unique to him.
He was instrumental in bringing heavy metal to the world, but he also provided a twist on the genre. He wanted to add a little style, slowing the typically fast and rocked-up style of music. Songs like “Iron Man”, “Children of the Grave”, “Paranoid” and “N.I.B.” are iconic.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan was born with a name that basically guaranteed stardom. If that name's not rock 'n' roll, we don't know what is. Born in Dallas, Texas, this guitar acrobat was singular in his music and performance style. Departing the world too soon, Vaughan died in a helicopter crash outside East Troy, Wisconsin at 35 years of age. In a chilling recount, bandmates told the media how the day before he had relayed a disturbing dream where he attended his own funeral. Now, that's creepy.
Vaughan combined jazz with rockabilly, rock with country, soul, blues, you name it – but even still, he was influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and Eric Clapton. During his lifetime, and posthumously, Vaughan received accolades and awards – in 1983, Guitar Player voted him Best New Talent and Best Electric Blues Guitar Player. He won six Grammys and ten Austin Music Awards. He was also inducted posthumously into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.
Howard Duane Allman was an incredible guitarist, session muso, and founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band. Nicknamed “Skydog”, the Nashville Tennessee native is well remembered for his tenure in the band and for his uniquely expressive slide guitar playing and inventive improv skills. Rolling Stone magazine in fact ranked him as number two in their list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time, second to the legend Jimi Hendrix.
Like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Allman definitely left this world way too soon, passing away at just 24 years of age. Killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after the release and success of At Fillmore East, it was a true tragedy. Hard-hitter record producer Jerry Wexler gave the eulogy, praising his musicality and dedication to Southern gospel, country, and blues music. Of Allman’s death, Robert Randolph said: “Duane died young, and it’s just one of those things. You could tell he was going to get 50 times better.”