Favorites: Rock Guitarists of the 70s, 80s, and 90s

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Tags: 
  • Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground: yeah, I know he's late 60s but he fits stylistically)
  • Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls)
  • Mick Ronson (David Bowie)
  • Neil Young
  • Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
  • Tom Verlaine (Television)
  • Johnny Ramone (Ramones)
  • Andy Gill (Gang of Four)
  • Kimberly Rew (The Soft Boys)
  • Billy Zoom (X)
  • James Honeyman-Scott (The Pretenders)
  • Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (The Clash)
  • The Edge (U2)
  • Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
  • Curt Kirkwood (The Meat Puppets)
  • Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine)
  • Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction)
  • Michael Roe (77s)
  • Kurt Cobain
  • John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)
Author Comments: 

I differentiated this list from the one for 50s and 60s guitarists because I feel proto-punk and punk set the stage for a new attitude and approach to the guitar. Menace, texture, and atmosphere were in; playing x number of notes per second and being influenced by Bach were out (see: prog-rock). These guitarists are all skillful at conveying emotion, whether it be rage, joy, or something in between, and that is what makes them true greats, not technical mastery. Because these guitarists aren't all flash, they often work great within a band context, so I would recommend any of the bands (mostly punk, post-punk, and college rock) I've listed next to these guys' names. Happy listening!

What?!? No Peter Frampton???

The use of the voice box transcended him beyond this and all other lists...goodbye listology, hello godhood!

Ha ha... too funny... "godhood..." ha ha... i hate that frampton guy (almost as much as that rob thomas fool)

Anybody have any other suggestions for this list? Pretty clear Frampton won't be making it...

Johnny Waco

Not to be too obscure, but Michael Roe of the 77s had one of the most moving guitar solos I have ever heard at the beginning of Don't, This Way.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Oh, and Blur's Graham Coxon is the Johnny Marr of the 90s - odd chord choices that sound so perfect, you might never realize just how inspired and off-beat they really are.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Haven't heard enough of Coxon, but Michael Roe does belong; I can't believe I didn't think of him before. Roe has some truly eloquent solos...

Johnny Waco