The Ten Best Guitarists That I Have Ever Seen LIVE!

 

Okay, I understand that everyone has an opinion of the best guitarists ever. And there

have been a lot of incredible players. But I decided I wanted to focus on the most amazing

players I have seen LIVE. Obviously, that shortens the list somewhat. But, what I found

interesting was that the list was still pretty incredible. I guess being a guitar player myself – I’ve

always really appreciated someone who could play stuff that I can only hope for. My biggest

criteria for the list were players who I loved to hear play some solo or just noodle by themselves.

Many are artists that I instantly recognize after they play a few notes. All are players that I wish

I could emulate. Here is my Top Ten along with my memories of seeing them LIVE:

 

1) Eric Clapton – I actually didn’t see him for the first time until the late 80’s on one of his

solo tours. I can still remember a “moment”. He was tearing through a solo, the hairs

on the back of my neck stood out, and I looked over at my then wife with my jaw on the

floor. She looked back at me and smiled – I was in musical heaven. I have seen him a

half dozen times since, and he has always been an incredible artist to watch. I’m very

blessed to have a guitar that he signed hanging in my living room – so I get to remember

each day what an amazing artist he is.

 

2) Jimmy Page – it saddens me to say this – but I never saw Led Zeppelin live. I guess

they were never in the same town where I was. However, I have seen several versions

of Plant-Page tours and Jimmy once on a solo tour. Maybe not in his prime, but I was

still blown away. I can remember him coming out on his solo gig at the smallish Mesa

Amphitheater in the early 90’s. Under a ribbon of laser lights, and a cheering crowd, an

assistant presented two lines of coke that he snorted and then launched into an incredible

shredding solo. Drugs, sex, and rock and roll – that is Jimmy Page! (P.S. – I have a

guitar signed by Jimmy, Roger Plant, and John Paul Jones in my living room).

 

3) B.B. King – I can hear two notes, and instantly recognize B.B. and Lucille. I first saw

him and his band as the warm-up to U2 on the “Rattle and Hum” tour. I was at Sun Devil

Stadium where the movie was shot. As much as I enjoyed U2, what blew me away was

B.B., and I became an instant fan. I made it a point to dig into his catalog, and have had

the pleasure of not only seeing him in concert numerous times, but also going back stage

and meeting him. He is easily one of the nicest, most humble people I have ever met.

And – yes – I have a guitar that he signed hanging in my living room. I hope he keeps

going for another 20 years!

 

4) Joe Satriani – for sheer, jaw dropping musicianship, nobody tops Joe for me. I think it’s

pretty much a given that I can’t play ANYTHING that Joe does on guitar. I’ve seen him

a half dozen times, and was fortunate to meet him (thanks to my now wonderful wife),

and take several pictures along with a signed guitar. Sigh. My signed guitar collection is

starting to look pretty good…

 

5) Eddie Van Halen – I’m not sure anybody looks cooler than Eddie as he runs around the

stage while shredding away on his guitar. And how does the guy stay so skinny? I’m

jealous – I tell you. I guess I’m partial to the Sammy Hagar version of Van Halen since

I have seen them several times. The new album with Dave didn’t really stir me – so I’m

going to stay in my nostalgia with Sammy. And – of yes – I have a signed guitar with the

Sammy version of Van Halen – it’s red!

 

6) Stevie Ray Vaughan – I have a real confession to make. I saw Stevie once on the dusty

Orange Show Fairgrounds in San Bernardino County, California. It was a great show,

but I wasn’t really into him back in the mid-80s. It wasn’t until later that I really got into

his music, and unfortunately I never had a chance to see him again before he died. And I

do NOT have a signed guitar by him. That’s too bad.

 

7) John Lee Hooker – as my love for blues music grew, I discovered the legendary John

Lee. His music and his guitar playing just had a mood. It was a style rather than the

technical skills that blew me away. I had the incredible luck to be in the front row of

a theater in Chicago in 1988 when I got to see him perform. It was a magical evening.

And even though he died in 2001, I am very fortunate to have a guitar signed by him

hanging on my wall.

 

8) Joe Bonamassa – I credit Sirius satellite radio for helping me discover my “other

Joe”. Bluesville channel 70 first introduced me to him. I had the chance to see him in

Phoenix a few years ago, and the show was incredible. He truly is the best guitarist of

his generation. I have since purchased all of his albums including his side project: Black

Country Communion. I don’t have a signed guitar yet – but I want one!

 

9) Slash – I saw Guns and Roses once, and Slash was the star. Oh sure, that was back in

the early 90’s when Axl was all about not starting the show until he felt the “moment”

(they were 90 minutes late coming on stage). But I still remember Slash in his top hat,

smoking a cigarette, playing the intro riff to “Sweet Child of Mine” standing on top of a

piano. That’s a tough riff to play under normal circumstances, and he just made it look

easy. I’m telling you that he’s underrated – he is an amazing player.

 

10) Buddy Guy – there are a lot of people that could have made my final spot. Derek

Trucks, Davis Gilmour, Billy Gibbons, Steve Howe, the Edge, Jeff Beck, Bruce

Springsteen, Mark Farner, and others come to mind. They are all incredible artists that

I have been fortunate to see LIVE. But Buddy makes my list because of the special

memory. He’s another amazing player that was a joy to see, and I had the pleasure to be

in the front row center with my daughter who was home after two years abroad. It will

always be a nice time that I got to spend together with her.

 

So that’s my list. It’s a blast to think about all the fantastic shows I’ve been to through the

years. Who’s on your list?

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