David Howell Evens, better known as The Edge, was born in Essex, England, on August 8, 1961. He’s also the lead guitarist for the legendary rock band U2. Like many great musicians and guitarists, Evens is self-taught. Many recognize the fact that this private journey with the guitar contributed greatly to his unique sound and style. Given the nickname “The Edge” from a young age, he’s definitely imparted a few pearls of wisdom since joining U2 in the late 1970s.
One of our favorites is his reflection on the classic hit “With or Without You”: “I don’t like to be inefficient if I can get away with it. Like at the end of ‘With or Without You.’ My instinct was to go with something very simple… there’s this power to it which I think is even more potent because it’s held back”. He definitely knows how to play his guitar.
ZZ Top was one of those all-American bad-boy type rock bands that wrote about women, booze, and rock and roll. Born in Houston, Texas, “The Reverend Billy F. Gibbons” is, of course, best known as both the lead guitarist and singer of the band ZZ Top. He started off in Moving Sidewalks and actually opened for the Jimi Hendrix Experience (as well as enjoying a brief friendship with the legend). Sure, sounds impressive – but this kid had a father who was a maestro.
His parents encouraged his musical side, taking him to see Elvis in concert, as well as B.B. King in the studio. With these experiences under his belt, he had the ideas and insider knowledge to form ZZ Top by the age of 20. “Tush,” “Legs,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’” are some of the stand-out tracks. Guitar-wise, well, you can’t go past his steady guitar in “La Grange.”
With a stellar career, 86-year-old Willie Nelson is a singer, songwriter, musician, actor, producer, author, poet, and activist. Born in Texas in 1933, Nelson sure has come a long way from his cotton-picking and bible-selling days. Critical and commercial success was won for Nelson with his albums Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust. A bit of a “country outlaw” due to his rebellion against the conventions of the Nashville sound; his music style is pretty unique.
Not to mention he’s been in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and been an adamant activist for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana. One thing has stayed constant, however, over the past 60 years – his guitar, “Trigger,” pictured above! Sure, “Trigger” has had a few stints in guitar hospital over the years, but she’s stuck it out with Nelson.
George “Buddy” Guy, born in Louisiana in 1936, is an American blues guitarist and singer. A true advocate of Chicago blues, his influence on many musicians and guitarists is undeniable. Artists who have cited him as an influence include the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the late Jeff Beck – and all of those artists went on to be a part of a group we know as “the greatest guitarists of all time.”
For the young George, it wasn’t long before he was kicked out of his home – this was owing to the fact that all he did was make a lot of noise! This reputation seemed to precede him, with many record executives early on saying his style was “just a bunch of noise.” But over time, his style became more refined, and his bluesy music became all the rage! If you’re curious, definitely have a listen to “Stone Crazy” and “First Time I Met the Blues.”
Fleetwood Mac's axeman, Lindsey Buckingham, brought his banjo-strumming vibes into the rock world. In his own words, "you do what you can to get the sound you want." He was doing precisely that, simultaneously making the band the iconic band of the late 60s and 70s. Buckingham's first attempt at guitar was on a Mickey Mouse guitar, strumming along to his brother's records. By 13, he was deep into folk music, influenced by the Kingston Trio.
In 1966, Buckingham found himself in a psychedelic rock band named The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band as a singer and bassist. With a few modifications and the addition of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac was born, and so was a legend.