Rock ‘n roll wasn’t born overnight. Throughout the years, there have been so many musicians that have heavily influenced the music we love. That’s why for National Guitar Day, we put together a list of seven guitarists that changed music forever. Each one of them is extremely innovative and left an everlasting effect on rock as we know it. Let’s get down to business!

Chuck Berry

Signature Guitar:

Gibson ES-355

Songs You Need to Hear:

Roll Over Beethoven (1956), Johnny B. Goode (1958)

Why Chuck Stands Out as a Legend:

They don’t call Chuck Berry “The Father of Rock ‘n Roll” for nothing. His incredible song writing ability and mind-blowing guitar solos not only changed the blues genre forever, but helped kick-start rock music. Berry laid the foundation for bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, who eventually brought rock to the mainstream.

Jimi Hendrix

Signature Guitar:

Fender Stratocaster

Songs You Need to Hear:

Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968), Machine Gun (1970)

Why Jimi Stands Out as a Legend:

There were plenty of influential guitarists before Hendrix, but when his psychedelic style broke the scene there was no going back. He was constantly pushing the limits of the electric guitar, creating sounds that nobody ever heard before. His blues influences combined with his wild fuzz and distortion effects left fans (and other guitar players) absolutely speechless. 

Duane Allman

Signature Guitar:

Gibson Les Paul

Songs You Need to Hear:

Dreams (1969), Blue Sky (1971)

Why Duane Stands Out as a Legend:

Simply put, Duane Allman could make his guitar sing. His tone is considered one of the best ever, and he essentially created the southern rock genre. But what stood out the most was his untouchable slide guitar skills. One single note from a Duane Allman solo can make you feel a hundred different emotions. That’s exactly why he’s recognized as an all-time great.

Jimmy Page

Signature Guitar:

Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul

Songs You Need to Hear:

Heartbreaker (1969), How Many More Times (1969)

Why Jimmy Stands Out as a Legend:

It doesn’t get much bigger than Led Zeppelin, and the band’s lead guitarist and founder Jimmy Page revolutionized the sound of hard rock. When you hear one of Page’s songs on the radio, it makes you want to drive to your local music store and buy a guitar. He’s that good. Page’s blend of thrashing hard rock riffs and fierce yet delicate blues solos make his guitar playing instantly recognizable. He’s one of a kind.

Tony Iommi

Signature Guitar:

Gibson SG

Songs You Need to Hear:

War Pigs/Luke’s Wall (1970), Wasp/Behind the Wall of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B. (1970)

Why Tony Stands Out as a Legend:

At a time when everybody wanted to be the next Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi dared to be different. Iommi and his band Black Sabbath are responsible for creating the metal genre. His tone is so dark that it’s goosebump-inducing. Thanks to Iommi’s cryptic riffs and face-melting solos, the band was able to create jams that were far ahead of the times. When you listen to Black Sabbath, make sure you crank the volume to the max.

Jerry Garcia

Signature Guitar:

Custom Fender Stratocaster, Doug Irwin Custom Guitars (Wolf, Tiger, and Rosebud)

Songs You Need to Hear:

Help on the Way/Slipknot! (1975), Shakedown Street (1978)

Why Jerry Stands Out as a Legend:

If you blended the classic sound of Chuck Berry, the improvising skill of Jimi Hendrix, and the song writing ability of Bob Dylan together, you’d get the Grateful Dead. While every member of this legendary psychedelic rock band played a huge part in its success, Jerry Garcia was the mastermind behind it all. There’s never been a band like The Dead, and there never will be. Their sound is so original and incredibly addicting, and that’s in huge part because Garcia constantly pushed the boundaries of guitar playing.

Eddie Van Halen

Signature Guitar:

FrankenStrat (Custom Fender Stratocaster)

Songs You Need to Hear:

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love (1978), Eruption (1978)

Why Eddie Stands Out as a Legend:

By 1978, there were tons of talented musicians that had a major influence on the way we play rock guitar today. But when Van Halen released their first, self-titled album, people were dumbstruck. Listeners had never (I mean NEVER) heard somebody play guitar like Eddie Van Halen before. His style was alien. The effects he used made his guitar sound like a different instrument. It was completely unheard of, and famous guitarists were actually intimidated. Once again, an insanely talented guitarist changed music forever.

There’s a countless amount of guitarists that influenced rock, but these seven stand out as legends. Take a deep dive into their music. We know you won’t regret it!

Love rock music? Make sure to shop our huge music tee selection! You should also check out our blog, where we posted music articles and jamming playlists that’ll have you head-banging all day long.