The Gilmer, Texas-born blues guitarist and singer was particularly prolific during the 60s and 70s. His voice was soulful and powerful, and when combined with his distinctive guitar style, it was a winning combo. Earning himself the nickname “The Texas Cannonball” (due to his large build), he was known for his “incendiary” live performances. His style has been described as “intuitive”, with an open-string sound creating a fusion of Texan blues with the rawer tones of Chicago blues.
It made him contemporary for his time and has gone on to influence guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In an interview in 1985, Eric Clapton said that Freddie King’s 1961 “I Love the Woman,” is “what started me on my path.” “Hide Away,” “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” and “The Stumble,” best demonstrate his unique, pioneering style.
With a middle name like “Fidler”, we’re not surprised that Walsh has a knack for string instruments. Born in Wichita, Kansas in 1947, Joe Walsh is a man of many talents and has had success in a number of bands. However, the most famous by far (and one of the most successful of all time) was, of course, The Eagles.
His rhythm-and-bass style with edginess and a touch of the blues has won him fans all over the world. Despite being a later addition to the famous band, he definitely joined at a peak time: their greatest hit, “Hotel California” was made in 1975, the very same year he joined. The solo in the song is one of the most instantly recognizable and iconic solos of all time. Now that’s definitely something to be remembered by!
John William Cummings, or Johnny Ramone, as we know him, was an awesome American rock guitarist and songwriter, best known of course for being the guitarist for the punk rock band, the Ramones! Sadly he was gone pretty young, passing away of cancer at just 55 years of age. The Queens-born guitarist may not have had that many solos, but he makes it on our list due to his influence in pioneering music, particularly when it came down to how he played his Mosrite guitar.
Fellow songwriter and musician Henry Rollins once said of Johnny that “(he) was the first guitar player I ever saw play like he was really mad. And I was like, ‘Damn. That’s cool.’ This unique style was down to the fact that the Ramones in fact played heavy music up-tempo. His rocking skills are best showcased in tracks like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “What I Like About You” and “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
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.”
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.