Top 10 Greatest Deceased Guitarists

The Top Ten
1 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.

Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most... read more

Jimi. Charisma abound. He could draw you into his playing like no other. Probably the most influential guitarist of all time.

Always voted top by all his peers. Innovative. Inspired generations of guitarists since. Number 1 by a country mile.

He is the greatest of them all. Yes, it is ridiculous that he isn't first.

2 Dimebag Darrell Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside his brother, Vinnie Paul. Abbott died in 2004 after he was shot by a mentally unstable fan.

What a great talent has been taken away from us! Truly shaped metal with his approach to playing.

Among the best! Wicked solos and tricks for sure. A good guy and awesome stage presence.

A true savant on guitar, style, and speed. The nicest person you could ever meet.

3 Randy Rhoads Randall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. He was killed in a plane crash.

Randy is a god. Twenty-five is no age to die, especially not the way he died (Hendrix and Cobain were 27! Probably only more acknowledged for being part of the club). What he accomplished in his short career, however, was far greater than 99% of musicians out there today. Most versatile and not only changed guitar but also music, completely broadened it with concepts of writing in different keys, etc. Flying High Again is more impressive to me than any of Hendrix's music, and his live recordings were unbelievable. He was also extremely humble and respectable, plus had no influence of drugs on his music. Not many people can say that.

4 Stevie Ray Vaughan Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of music, and... read more

Stevie Ray could make the guitar sing, cry, and dance to every note. Not many guitarists can give the guitar feeling, but Stevie did just that. He could play a solo flawlessly. If I would recommend listening to newer guitarists, SRV would be at the top of the list.

Awesome blues guitarist that started a new generation of blues. Saw Stevie about a month before his death. Great voice for singing the blues, and his guitar never stopped playing.

The greatest guitarist, in my opinion. I haven't viewed any of his videos that have left me feeling blah. His energy just pulls me in.

5 Chuck Schuldiner Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner (1967-2001) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the founder and vocalist, guitarist and bassist of the American heavy metal band Death. He is considered the most influential figure in Death Metal, with some publications referring to Chuck... read more

Chuck is so underrated. You are a legend, mate.

6 Jeff Hanneman Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.
7 John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980) was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age... read more
8 George Harrison George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

The Beatles' guitarist. They wouldn't have been them without him. Overshadowed by John and Paul, George came into his own right with his playing and ever-growing songwriting. God bless him.

A very classy gentleman, played amazing guitar, and wrote some incredible songs. Most certainly, he will be sadly missed and never forgotten.

RIP George

Influenced more people to take up the guitar than any other human. Vastly underrated because of the bands he was in.

9 Duane Allman Howard Duane Allman was an American guitarist, session musician, and co-founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band until his death in a motorcycle crash in 1971, when he was 24 years old.

I believe Duane, had he lived, had the ability to surpass Clapton. When he died in '71, he had already established his ability and a sound. But according to his little brother Gregg, "he was nowhere near his peak and practiced constantly to reach it."

Sure, he wanted to start a band and making money made life easier, but it didn't stop there. Duane had a real passion, and you could hear it in his music.

Simply the best of all time in my humble opinion. Made history in putting Southern rock on the map, besides his legendary playing alongside Dickey Betts and Eric Clapton. Best slide player of all time, period! R.I.P. Huge fan from Brazil.

10 Allen Collins Larkin Allen Collins Jr. was one of the founding members and guitarists of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, and co-wrote many of the band's songs with late frontman Ronnie Van Zant. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida.

That boy could shred a fretboard and is one of the greatest soloists EVER! All 6'5" of that boy rocked a stage presence and while wrecking a Thunderbird, Explorer, or Strat. This generation doesn't have a clue what true musicians are!

Allen will always be known for his Free Bird solo, but he was an amazing rhythm player. His soloing skills were excellent, and he knew his way around the fretboard.

The Contenders
11 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana, which became one of the most successful bands ever. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his... read more

Truly an amazing guitarist, and to sing at the same time. Truly a legend who left too soon.

He was an inspiration to me, and I will never forget his music. He was truly amazing.

12 Prince Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 - April 21st, 2016) was an American musician, best known for being one of the most popular and influential artists from the 80s, with songs such as "Purple Rain", "Little Red Corvette", "1999", and "When Doves Cry" .

All these guys are incredible, but if we are talking pure technical skill, Prince blows most of them out of the water. Top 5 without a doubt, along with Vaughan, Hendrix, Gallagher, and Rhoads.

13 Rory Gallagher William Rory Gallagher was an Irish blues and rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader.

Rory Gallagher was the People's Guitarist. Unassuming but tenacious, the Irish bluesman devoted his life to touring and playing his beloved Fender Strat.

Jimi hit the nail on the head. They are in my top five. Rory and Jimi are in my top five. Johnny Winter is there too. The other two don't qualify yet - they're still alive.

From Taste to 'Evidence,' Mr. Dedication and Consistency. Hard to look past his efforts.

14 Gary Moore Robert William Gary Moore was a Northern Irish musician, most widely recognised as a singer, songwriter, and virtuoso rock and blues guitarist.

Gary could shred a guitar faster than your mind could keep up with. Just listen to Hiroshima. His Parisienne Walkways puts a tear in my eye every time.

Give a listen to "Still Got the Blues" and the live version of "Cold-Hearted." Gary Moore belongs in the top three, easily.

Definitely one of the greatest of all time. I would say number 3, between Clapton and Jeff Beck.

15 Jerry Garcia Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia was an American musician best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture era in the 1960s.

Jerry Garcia is one of the best guitarists, and as much as I like Kurt Cobain, how is Kurt ahead of him?

What a talent, hugely underrated. A good place to start is Europe '72. Stellar tracks include China Cat Sunflower / I Know You Rider, Truckin', and Morning Dew. This poll is total garbage. How on earth a limited player is rated higher than Jerry Garcia is beyond me. Still, that's rock and roll.

Miss him so badly! Oh, Bobby Pappy is too much. Old deadhead, 200 shows, 58 years old. Thanks.

16 Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa was an American musician, songwriter, composer, record producer, actor and filmmaker.

Making over 80 albums and every one sounding unique - he was a genius in his writing. He heard music in everything. Belongs higher on the list. Kurt Cobain was the best at being the worst guitar player. Anyone that has ever studied the guitar can attest to the fact that many of these lists are so far off.

Hands down the best modern-day musical genius of all time!

The best musician of all time. Well, for me at least.

17 Eddie Van Halen Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen (January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020) was a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, producer, and inventor. He was best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.

One of the best guitarists in history. I still remember waking up that morning, and my father was standing at my door and said Eddie Van Halen had died. He changed the world of guitar forever.

He will always be remembered as one of the best and one of the pioneers of guitar. EVH is the true guitar hero. "Rock stars come and go. Musicians play until they die..." -EVH

18 Steve Clark Stephen Maynard Clark was an English musician. He was the lead guitarist and principal songwriter for the British hard rock band, Def Leppard, until 1991, when he died from alcohol poisoning.

One of the best and most influential rock guitarists that has ever lived. Should be number 1 in my opinion. Who doesn't love Def Leppard? Everybody knows Pour Some Sugar On Me and Photograph. Come on, guys, start voting.

One of a kind. Talented, original, dedicated, and pure white lightning. Always my favorite. I am fortunate to have seen him play live. I miss him.

He's the reason why I picked up a guitar, and he'll live in my heart till the day that I die.

19 Roy Buchanan

Saw Roy play in Tucson at a bar called Dooley's in the early '80s. Was 10 feet from him. He played pure music. Didn't need all the pedals and gizmos some of the other top guitarists use. My opinion, top 5. Listen to Down By The River on the Sweet Dreams Anthology and tell me what you think!

Never saw Roy, but from the first LP I heard, it made me a fan. The way he played Hey Joe made the other versions seem a bit weak.

Worthy of the top ten list, in my opinion!

20 B. B. King Riley B. "B.B." King was an American blues singer, electric guitarist, songwriter, and record producer.

B.B. King was one of the greatest blues guitar players of all time. His personal best songs are "Blues Boys Tune" and "Sweet Sixteen". His live performances are amazing. Back in the days, B.B. King belonged to the Three Kings of Blues: Albert King, Freddie King, and B.B. King.

B.B. King played with the greatest guitar folk, blues, and rock players. He even recorded a full album with Eric Clapton not too long ago. He had his own club in Chicago where he was playing with his band. B.B. King was without a doubt one of the greatest blues guitar musicians of all time.

21 Terry Kath Terry Alan Kath was an American musician and songwriter, best known as the original guitarist, one of the lead singers and founding members of the rock band Chicago.

I'm A Man, 25 or 6 to 4, Song of the Evergreens... the list goes on. Put TK in a regular rock band and this argument goes another direction. Was one of Hendrix's favorite guitarists.

22 Tommy Bolin Thomas Richard "Tommy" Bolin was an American-born guitarist who played with Zephyr, The James Gang, and Deep Purple; in addition to maintaining a notable solo career.

He could write, sing, and play. Check out his tone on Alphonse Mouzon's Golden Rainbows, speed and innovation on Cobham's Quadrant 4, funk on Deep Purple's Getting Tighter, and his writing, singing, and playing on James Gang's Alexis. Also, his rock/jazz work out while six months away from his heroin-fueled death on Post Toastee. But hey, he was no Cobain (laugh out loud).

Bolin had many styles and tones in his repertoire. It is criminal how low he is ranked here.

23 Shawn Lane Shawn Lane was an American musician who released two studio albums and collaborated with a variety of musicians including Ringo Starr, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Reggie Young, Joe Walsh, Jonas Hellborg and many others.

This guy should have been there. Then you guys would know what he was. Listen to his music. Then you'll know what I mean.

24 Michael Hedges

Not sure how you pick the best of this list, but Hedges is easily top 5 when it comes to technical virtuosity.

Seemed like he was playing multiple instruments at one time. A very courageous player.

Made the most beautiful and complex songs I've ever heard.

25 Ronnie Montrose

Absolutely one of my favorites with Montrose and Gamma. RIP Ronnie

Just listen to their first album and as goid as sammy hagar was ronnie montrose who played lead

A technical perfectionist with one of the fastest left hands in rock

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