As a co-founder and guitarist for the heavy metal band Quiet Riot, Rhoads set the stage for the hard-pounding music that plenty of us love even to this day. He joined frontman Ozzy Osbourne, delivering some of the most hair-raising solos yet on songs such as “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley.” “Crazy Train” in particular, has one of the most recognizable riffs in heavy metal.
Rhoads popularized numerous now-commonplace techniques, such as two-hand tapping and dive bombs (rapidly lowering the pitch of a note using the whammy bar). Sadly, Rhoads passed away in 1982 at the age of 25 during an ill-planned flight.
Born on July 12th, 1967, in New York City, Petrucci attended Berklee College of Music in Boston with his childhood friend John Myung. The pair met Mike Portnoy, and together with another friend Kevin Moore, the four created Dream Theater. In a group full of some of the best musicians in the world, Petrucci's playing stands out.
His high-speed alternate picking requires mastery of the instrument, and his speed while playing some of Dream Theater's faster songs puts most other axemen to shame. He's also been lauded for his slower, emotive playing. Influenced by some of the best, he is now one of the best.
If you want to talk about being fast, Michael Romeo is the man to speak to. His shredding has been melting face since 1994, when he formed the progressive metal band Symphony X. Whether he's building the chords of a ballad underneath singer Russell Allen's singing or running through the mind-bending solo of a half-hour long song about Plato's “The Odyssey,” Romeo displays an incredible mastery of his chosen instrument.
If you like fast playing, you're probably a fan of Romeo, whether or not you know it. He also loves to put classical touches from Mozart or Beethoven into his playing. A man of culture.
Born Darrell Lance Abbot in 1966 and going by his stage name Dimebag, Darrell was a guitarist for both Pantera and Damageplan, both of which he co-founded with his brother. Regularly regarded as one of the heavy metal greats with the guitar – sometimes even the best – Darrell was one of the founders of the groove metal movement.
The album “Cowboys from Hell” from Pantera was first called “power groove,” which used the heavy energy of thrash metal such as Metallica but slowed it down. Like many on this list, Darrell left the mortal coil too early, in 2004.
While we'd all love this guy's real name to be Wylde, he was actually born Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt and would change his name to Zachary Phillip Wylde. As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and one of the founders of the heavy metal band Black Label Society, Wylde's guitar credentials are stellar. He was even good enough at shredding and chugging to fill in during Pantera shows for Dimebag Darrell after his death.
Want to know how he got so good? Practice. According to him, he would get home from high school and practice pretty much until he left for school the next day.