The 50 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

by yankofau | created - 15 Apr 2015 | updated - 20 May 2017 | Public

As the title states, this is a list about my perspective on who are the 50 greatest men who ever picked up a guitar. As i said, this is my personal appreciation, which is based on my personal prog./alternative rock genres affinity, to be clear about the choosing method for this chart.

1. Frank Zappa

Soundtrack | Baby Snakes

Of all the qualities that typified Frank Zappa, perhaps the most striking is that he was a paradox. A workaholic perfectionist rock star who eschewed the hippie culture of the 1960s, deploring its conformism, spurious ideals and drug use, Zappa was not only a brilliant rock guitarist but an ...

2. John McLaughlin

Soundtrack | Where the Truth Lies

John McLaughlin was born on January 4, 1942 in Yorkshire, England.

3. Robert Fripp

Soundtrack | Children of Men

Robert Fripp was born on May 16, 1946 in Dorset, England. He has been married to Toyah Willcox since May 16, 1986.

5. Michael Karoli

Soundtrack | Los abrazos rotos

Michael Karoli was born on April 29, 1948 in Straubing, Bavaria, Germany. He was married to Shirley Argwings-Kodhek. He died on November 17, 2001 in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

6. Daevid Allen

Actor | Gong: on French TV 1971-1973

Daevid Allen was born on January 13, 1938 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as Christopher David Allen. He was an actor and composer, known for Gong: on French TV 1971-1973 (2011), Du côté d'Orouët (1971) and The Black Balloon (2012). He was married to Gilli Smyth. He died on ...

7. Trey Anastasio

Soundtrack | 127 Hours

Ernest Joseph "Trey" Anastasio III (born 30 September 1964) grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, playing drums. He worked with his mother, an editor for Sesame Street Magazine, developing stories and songs of fantasy and fun and meaning. (His father was an executive with the Princeton-based ...

8. Thurston Moore

Soundtrack | The Perks of Being a Wallflower

In 1980, Thurston Moore formed the band Sonic Youth as a lead guitarist and singer with Kim Gordon (bass guitars/vocals) and Lee Ranaldo (lead guitars/vocals). In 1981, they released their debut album "Sonic Youth", which attracted lots of attention for using feedback in music. They later released ...

9. Jonny Greenwood

Soundtrack | The Master

Jonny Greenwood was born on November 5, 1971 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England as Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood. He has been married to Sharona Katan since 1995. They have three children.

10. Trey Spruance

Composer | The Anna Cabrini Chronicles

Preston Lea "Trey" Spruance III is an American composer, producer, and musician, perhaps best known as guitarist and keyboardist with Mr. Bungle and for his short time in Faith No More. He is also leader of the multi-genre outfit Secret Chiefs 3. Originally a guitarist and trumpeter, Spruance later...

11. Jerry Garcia

Soundtrack | Great Expectations

One of the most prolific and iconic guitarists of the second half of the 20th Century, Jerome John Garcia was born in San Francisco, California, USA on August 1st 1942. Garcia, whose mother was a registered nurse and whose father, Jose, was a small time jazz musician, had a troubled childhood. At ...

12. Joey Santiago

Soundtrack | Empire Records

Joey Santiago was born as Joseph Alberto Santiago. He is known for his work on Empire Records (1995), Undeclared (2001) and The Low Budget Time Machine (2003).

13. Tom Verlaine

Soundtrack | Love and a .45

Tom Verlaine was born on December 13, 1949 in Morristown, New Jersey, USA as Thomas Miller.

14. Steven Drozd

Soundtrack | Ender's Game

Steven Drozd was born on June 11, 1969 in Houston, Texas, USA as Steven Gregory Drozd.

15. Jim Martin

Soundtrack | Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Jim Martin was born on July 21, 1961 in Oakland, California, USA as James Blanco Martin.

16. Adrian Belew

Soundtrack | Rush Hour

Adrian Belew caught the public attention for the first time around 1977 when he played guitar with Frank Zappa, David Bowie or the Talking Heads. He began his solo career in 1981 as singer, guitarist, drummer, lyricist, composer and producer of his own records. Since then he has released 15 of them...

17. John Frusciante

Soundtrack | Stealth

John Anthony Frusciante was born on March 5, 1970, in New York. He became interested in rock music at an early age. After his parents divorced, John and his mother moved to California when he was seven. When he was nine, his stepfather offered him his first acoustic guitar.

John taught himself how ...

18. David Byrne

Soundtrack | True Stories

David Byrne is an Oscar winning composer, songwriter and singer, best known for being frontman of the New Wave/punk band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 and 1991. Born in Scotland but raised in the United States in Maryland, Byrne began performing musically in high school.

Byrne ...

19. Al Di Meola

Soundtrack | The Sopranos

Al Di Meola was born on July 22, 1954 in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA as Albert Laurence Di Meola.

20. Larry Lalonde

Actor | Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Larry Lalonde was born as Reid Laurence LaLonde. He is known for his work on Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) and Detention (2011).

21. Greg Ginn

Soundtrack | Repo Man

Greg Ginn was born on June 8, 1954 in Tucson, Arizona, USA as Gregory Regis Ginn.

22. Johnny Ramone

Soundtrack | 11:14

Johnny Ramone was born John William Cummings in Queens, New York. He went to be the guitar player for the Ramones, alongside Jeffrey Hyman and Douglas Colvin (later Joey Ramone and Dee Dee Ramone). They also hired Thomas Erdelyi (later Tommy Ramone) as drummer. Tommy disbanded in 1978 and asked ...

23. Wayne Kramer

Soundtrack | Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Wayne Kramer is a songwriter, producer and composer whose reputation writing music for television and film risks supplanting his legend as one of music's stellar guitarists. Rolling Stone Magazine recognizes him as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time and highlights from recent composing and ...

24. Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein

Actor | Animal Room

Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein was born on September 15, 1964 in Lodi, New Jersey, USA as Paul Doyle Caiafa. He is an actor, known for Animal Room (1995), Death Ward 13 and WCW Monday Nitro (1995). He has been married to Stephanie Bellars since September 1, 2001. They have one child.

25. Steve Howe

Soundtrack | Apollo 18

Steve Howe was born on April 8, 1947 in London, England as Stephen James Howe. He has been married to Janet Howe since 1971. They have three children. He was previously married to Pat.

26. Ian MacKaye

Soundtrack | SLC Punk!

Ian MacKaye formed the Washington, D.C. band Fugazi with Brendan Canty and Joe Lally and Guy Picciotto in 1987. Before that, he was a member of Egg Hunt, Embrace, Minor Threat, Skewbald/ Grand Union, and Teen Idles. Ian created "Dischord Records" in 1980 to document the music coming out of the ...

27. Mick Jones

Soundtrack | Grosse Pointe Blank

Mick Jones was born on June 26, 1955 in Clapham, London, England as Michael Geoffrey Jones.

29. Tony Iommi

Soundtrack | Iron Man

Tony Iommi was born on February 19, 1948 in Birmingham, England as Frank Anthony Iommi. He has been married to Maria Sjöholm since 1999.

30. Tom Morello

Soundtrack | Battleship

Tom Morello was born on May 30, 1964 in New York city. He has become an influential guitarist due to his work with Rage Against The Machine in the 1990s. Tom got his Social Studies degree from Harvard and went to L.A to start a band. He briefly played guitarist for a band named Lock Up with fellow ...

31. Ron Asheton

Soundtrack | Kong: Skull Island

Ron Asheton was born on July 17, 1948 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA as Ronald Franklin Asheton Jr. He died on January 6, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

32. Kurt Cobain

Soundtrack | Moulin Rouge!

Kurt Cobain was born on February 20 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. Kurt and his family lived in Hoquiam for the first few months of his life then later moved back to Aberdeen, where he had a happy childhood until his parents divorced. The divorce left Kurt's outlook on the world forever scarred. He...

33. Adam Jones

Special_effects | Jurassic Park

Adam Jones was born on January 15, 1965 in Libertyville, Illinois, USA as Adam Thomas Jones. He is known for his work on Jurassic Park (1993), Escape from L.A. (1996) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He has been married to Camella Grace since September 18, 1999.

34. Neil Young

Composer | Dead Man

Neil Young is one of the most respected and prolific rock/folk guitarists of the late 20th century. Raised in Canada, he first became well-known as a guitarist and occasional vocalist for the band Buffalo Springfield. After the band's breakup, Young became a solo performer. However, he also has ...

35. J. Mascis

Actor | The Double

J. Mascis was born on December 10, 1965 in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA as Joseph Donald Mascis Jr. He is married to Luisa Mascis. They have one child.

36. Josh Homme

Soundtrack | End of Watch

Josh Homme was born on May 17, 1973 in Palm Springs, California, USA as Joshua Michael Homme. He has been married to Brody Dalle since 2007. They have three children.

37. Mikael Åkerfeldt

Actor | Opeth: Harvest

Mikael Åkerfeldt is an actor, known for Opeth: Harvest (2001), Opeth: The Grand Conjuration (2005) and Opeth: Burden (2008).

38. Johnny Marr

Music_department | Inception

Johnny Marr made his name as lead guitarist with the cult British rock band, The Smiths, regarded by some as one of the most influential bands of the 1980s. Along with Morrissey, Marr created some of the most memorable and acclaimed songs of that decade, with Morrissey's witty, satirical lyrics and ...

39. East Bay Ray

Soundtrack | Grindhouse

East Bay Ray was born on November 17, 1958 in Oakland, California, USA as Ray Pepperell.

40. Mike McCready

Music_department | Almost Famous

Mike McCready was born on April 5, 1966 in Pensacola, Florida, USA as Michael David McCready.

41. Pete Shelley

Soundtrack | Shaun of the Dead

Pete Shelley was born on April 17, 1955 as Peter Campbell McNeish. He was married to Greta. He died on December 6, 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia.

42. Poison Ivy Rorschach

Soundtrack | The Social Network

Poison Ivy Rorschach was born on February 20, 1953 in Sacramento, California, USA as Kristina Marlana Wallace. She was previously married to Lux Interior.

43. Matt Pike

Soundtrack | Buddy Boy

Former member of Sleep with Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius.

44. Johnny Thunders

Soundtrack | Bringing Out the Dead

Born in Queens, NY, Thunders is best known as the lead guitarist for the New York Dolls in the early 1970s and unintentionally helped inspire the Punk movements in New York City and London. He later formed The Heartbreakers and went on to a solo career. His career was often interrupted by issues ...

45. Steve Jones

Soundtrack | The A-Team

Stephen Philip Jones, was born on September 3rd, 1955 in West London. His real father, an amateur boxer, named Don Jarvis left Steve and his mother when he was just two years old. Sometime later his Step-father arrived on the scene, for a time, Steve lived in a house with his parents and ...

46. Jerry Cantrell

Actor | Jerry Maguire

Jerry Cantrell is an American musician best known as the founder, lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter for the Seattle Rock band Alice in Chains since 1987. The band was part of the Grunge movement and is known for the unique vocal harmonies between Cantrell and Layne Staley, and ...

47. Brent Hinds

Soundtrack | The Big Short

Guitarist of the band Mastodon.

48. Graham Coxon

Soundtrack | Southland Tales

Graham Coxon is an English musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and painter who came to prominence as a founding member of the rock band Blur. As the group's lead guitarist and secondary vocalist, Graham Coxon was featured on seven of Blur's studio albums, from 1991's Leisure to 2015'...

49. Brian James

Soundtrack | The Hidden

Brian James was born on February 18, 1955 in England as Brian Robertson.

50. Dave Navarro

Soundtrack | Twister

Born June 7, 1967 to James Raul 'Mike' Navarro and Constance Colleen Hopkins. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Mexico; his mother, Constance, was a model and worked on Let's Make a Deal (1963). After his parents divorced when he was seven, Dave moved with his mother to Bel Air, and lived ...

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