This article highlights some of the best guitarists in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Learn how their style and techniques can improve your playing.
Here is an excellent opportunity to discover their music and have some fun in the process.
I hope you find some of your favorites in this list. Please feel free to add your own choices in the comment section.
What is Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
For those who do not know, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is a museum and “hall of fame” located in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. It was established as a non-profit organization in 1983 by Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ertegun.
The museum’s mission is to “engage, teach, and inspire through the power of rock and roll.”
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame museum exhibits artifacts such as musical instruments, stage clothing, posters, photographs, album art, and unpublished song lyrics.
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Leadership And Rules
The museum’s leadership is overseen by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation. The leadership has come under criticism for lack of transparency and potential bias pertaining to the artist nomination process since not all the members are musicians.
Strangely, the museum contains inductees from other musical genres, like country legend Johnny Cash and Jazz great Miles Davis. I love all types of music, so it’s all good to me.
Musicians can be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame 25 years after their first recording.
Why I Chose These Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Guitarists
Here are my picks for best guitarists from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. I chose them based on their compositional and instrumental uniqueness as guitar players. These musicians have an instantly recognizable style and are masters of their particular playing style. They are listed alphabetically and were inducted as solo artists, part of a band, or both.
I am not affiliated with the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame or any of the artists on this list in any way. This information is based solely on my own personal opinion.
Jeff Beck: Inducted 1992 and 2009
Jeff Beck was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice, once in the class of 1992 along with other members of the band The Yardbirds and again in 2009 as a solo artist.
Class of 1992: Jeff Beck, The Yardbirds, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Booker T. And The MG’S, Johnny Cash, Leo Fender, Bill Graham, The Isley Brothers, Elmore James, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Professor Longhair, Doc Pomus, Sam And Dave
Class of 2009: Jeff Beck, Bill Black, D.J Fontana, Wanda Jackson, Little Anthony And The Imperials, Metallica, Spooner Oldham, Run DMC, Bobby Womack
1992: Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction For The Yardbirds
In 1992 Jeff was inducted by U2 guitarist The Edge for his musical contributions as a guitar player in the band The Yardbirds, along with Keith Relf (vocals & harmonica), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass guitar), and Jim McCarty (drums). Along the way, this band would go on to include Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page at various points in time! In 1966 Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page were both a part of The Yardbirds lineup simultaneously.
2009: Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction As A Solo Artist
In 2009 Jeff was induced by Jimmy Page for his work as a solo artist with his own bands. His first album, “Truth” (1968), included many notable performers such as Rod Stewart on vocals and Ronnie Wood on bass guitar. For Jeff’s Discography, check out my article Jeff Beck’s Guitar Style – The Guitar Player’s Guitarist!
Jeff Beck is one of those guitar players you either love or don’t get what he does. Underneath all the flashy licks, what sets him apart from everyone else is his uncanny ability to use the guitar’s whammy bar and harmonics to create his own trademark sound that mimics the human voice.
He is one of those guitar players that you can’t mistake for anyone else. The better I got as a guitar player, the more I learned to respect his music.
Jeff has won 8 Grammy awards to date.
- Best instrumental rock performance: Escape, Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop, Dirty Mind, Plan B, A Day In The Life, Nessun Dorma, Hammerhead,
- Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Imagine
My Favorite Album: There And Back
“There And Back” was released in 1980 on Epic records. Although all Jeff’s stuff is spectacular in its own way, I really like the song mix’s feel on this album. It’s kind of like the evolution of the “Blow By Blow” and “Wired” albums taken to the next step. If you want to hear some really unbelievable jazz-rock and fusion tunes, then check out this album.
My Favorite Song: Good Bye Pork Pie Hat
Good Bye Pork Pie Hat is a Charles Mingus cover. Jeff first recorded it on his “Wired” album. What’s amazing about this song is how Jeff structures his dynamics and phrasing to give is so much emotion. If you haven’t heard it, then be sure to put this song and the entire Wired album on your must-have-a-listen radar!
David Gilmour: Inducted 1996
David Gilmour was inducted by Billy Corgan into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996, along with other members of the band Pink Floyd. He was one of the guitar players in the band, along with Syd Barrett (guitar), Roger Waters (bass guitar), Richard Wright (keyboards), and Nick Mason (drums).
Class of 1996: Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Tom Donahue, Gladys Knight And The Pips, Jefferson Airplane, Little Willie John, Pete Seeger, The Shirelles, The Velvet Underground
David Gilmour is the mastermind responsible for the mind-blowing guitar solos in Pink Floyd and his solo albums. His solos are melodic and airy, with just the right amount of space between one phrase and the next. His guitar work is truly spellbinding and hypnotizing, even without the amazing light shows that Pink Floyd was well known for.
David taught me that you don’t have to play hundreds of notes a minute to create an unbelievable rock guitar solo. He also made it fun for me to collect and integrate guitar effects into my playing.
Pink Floyd received a Grammy for the song “Marooned” (best rock instrumental performance) in 1994.
My Favorite Album: The Dark Side Of The Moon
This album is what really put Pink Floyd on the musical map as an international sensation. Although the music appealed to the masses, its format and content wasn’t commercialized for radio play
The album has a definite “musically sophisticated mellowness” from start to finish, making it a must-have for kickstarting those relaxing evenings; just add your favorite beverage and friends.
My Favorite Song: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
This is song one, side one, of the album “Wish You Were Here” (Parts VI-IX is the last song on side two). The guitar solos in this song are an outstanding example of how David creates music that never sounds rushed and is always melodic. His notes tell a story and are unforgettable from the very first time you hear them.
Jimi Hendrix: Inducted 1992
Jimi Hendrix was inducted by Neil Young into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1992, along with the other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Reading played bass guitar, and Mitch Mitchell played drums.
Class of 1992: Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Yardbirds, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Booker T. And The MG’S, Johnny Cash, Leo Fender, Bill Graham, The Isley Brothers, Elmore James, Professor Longhair, Doc Pomus, Sam And Dave
Jimi Hendrix was the guy who made me want to play guitar. I had Hendrix posters on every inch of my bedroom walls when I was in high school. He influenced so many up-and-coming guitar players.
His rhythm guitar playing was just as phenomenal as his solos. He was the real deal and always will be. All great guitar players still speak his name with reverence!
Jimi made it big in England and then returned to the U.S.A. to play the Monterey Pop Festival, during which he set his guitar on fire while playing a cover of the song “Wild Thing.” The rest, as they say, is musical history.
Here is a video of Jimi Hendrix playing “Wild Thing” at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Jimi Hendrix received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1992.
My Favorite Album: Electric Ladyland
Electric Ladyland is my favorite double album of all time! After you listen to it enough times, you begin to realize that the music and vocals are telling a strange story that only Jimi could fully comprehend. Jimi effortlessly mixes hard rock, blues, rhythm and blues, and funk together on this album in a way that had never been done before.
My Favorite Song: Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is the last song on the album Electric Ladyland. It is the sequel to Voodoo Chile on the same album. There is nothing “slight” about its return. It has one of the most memorably aggressive guitar solos of all time.
This song is a perfect example of how Jimi could harness the power of a Stratocaster and make it do things that the world never knew was possible. It is usually one of the top ten songs that most rock guitarists want to learn to play even all these years later.
For information on the effects pedals that Jimi used, see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing. Also, see Can You Change A Right Handed Guitar To Left Handed?
To read about Roy Buchanan’s covers of Hey Joe and Foxy Lady, see Live At Rockpalast, 1985 – The 5 Best Roy Buchanan Songs.
For a review of an excellent album with a Jazz Fusion version of Purple Haze, see Crossover By Jorge Garcia -Jazz’s Answer To Classic Rock!
Tony Iommi: Inducted 2006
Tony Iommi was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame along with the other members of the band Black Sabbath. The original lineup included Geezer Butler on bass guitar, Bill Ward on drums, and Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.
Class of 2006: Black Sabbath, Blondie, Miles Davis, Herb Alpert And Jerry Moss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sex Pistols
When the first Black Sabbath album came out in 1970, I could not believe my ears! The music and vocals were so gothic that the band immediately won me over. Tony Iommi’s perfectly distorted two-note power chords played with a Gibson SG through a wall of Laney amps were absolutely devastating.
I particularly liked the way that Geezer played his bass, almost like a second lead guitar, and the sound was so “heavy.”
I knew immediately that this was a brand new type of music, which we now call heavy metal. I learned years later that Tony had cut off the fingertips of his guitar fretting hand during an accident at work, which made him even more of a guitar hero to me.
I never missed a chance to see them play, and once I came home from Italy earlier than expected to catch them on their North American “Mob Rules” tour. Although there are many excellent metal bands, none have ever captured the Black Sabbath magic on record or in concert.
Black Sabbath won two Grammy awards.
- “God Is Dead” (Best Metal Performance) – 2013
- A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019
My Favorite Album: “Black Sabbath”
The first Black Sabbath album, entitled “Black Sabbath,” is the obvious choice for all the reasons written above and so much more. This album was recorded in a single day in just 12 hours and on a relatively small budget, but it has a “live” raw power that is difficult to capture in the studio.
It defined their sound and a new genre of music. They never strayed from this winning formula and made album after album featuring their patented sound. A re-released deluxe European version of this album was also made available.
For a review of their last concert see Black Sabbath End Tour – Blu Ray Review – Is That Really It?
For more info on how you can approximate Tony’s sound with a pedal, see Drybell The Engine Review – Get Killer Vintage British Tone!
My Favorite Song: Heaven And Hell
It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but the title song from the 1980 album Heaven And Hell would most likely be the one if you pinned me down to a single choice. This album featured the vocals of Ronnie James Dio instead of Ozzy.
The Dio years of Black Sabbath seemed to add another layer of sophistication to Tony’s guitar solos, sort of a version 2.0. It’s easy to hear the difference when you compare the two.
To read about the guitar Tony used to create the Black Sabbath sound, see Gibson SG Electric Guitar Update – Iommi “Monkey” SG Special.
Jimi Page: Inducted 1995
Jimmy Page was inducted by Steve Tyler and Joe Perry into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, along with other members of the band Led Zeppelin. The other members of this mighty quartet included Robert Plant (vocals), John Paul Jones (bass guitar and keyboards), and John Bonham (drums).
Class of 1995: Led Zeppelin, Paul Ackerman, The Allman Brothers Band, Al Green, Janis Joplin, Martha And The Vandellas, The Orioles, Neil Young, Frank Zappa
Jimmy Page, what more can you say except that he’s the epidemy of the fiery guitar licks of a seasoned studio musician meets the raw power of a 59′ Les Paul guitar through a Marshall Stack. It’s hard to believe that the Led Zeppelin I album was recorded on a Telecaster played through a Supro Coronado amp.
It isn’t easy to envision this band’s power in concert without ever having seen a show. How can you even think about a Gibson double-neck guitar without mentally picturing Page playing “Stairway To Heaven?
Don’t tell me you’ve never “gotten the Led out” by listening to all 10 Zeppelin albums back to back!.
Led Zeppelin won two Grammy awards.
- “Celebration Day” (Best Rock Album) – 2013
- A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005
For more information see Led Zeppelin Celebration Day Review – Their Fabulous Return!
My Favorite Album: Physical Graffiti
Physical Graffiti is a double album that runs the gamut of musical styles by blending everything conceivable, from folk to hard rock. It’s a testament to the versatility and musical adaptability of Led Zeppelin. There’s so much musical material to digest on this album that I listened to it twice a day for two weeks when it was first released.
My Favorite Song: Whole Lotta Love
Whole Lotta Love has to be my favorite song because of its absolutely iconic “rip your throat out” guitar solo. It’s one of the first solos you try to master if you play rock guitar. The song is a wonderful example of how Jimmy could use his guitar to create excitement and anticipation for the listener.
Final Thoughts On The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
These are just some of the killer guitar players inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame that have been important to my development as a musician. Every guitarist learns and develops a personal style of playing from what others have done.
Many obviously outstanding players have not made it into the hall of fame for a variety of reasons. Some things just take time, and there is always an element of “personal bias” and even a political side to any complex selection process.
I personally think it’s “high time” for Brian Setzer or his band, The Stray Cats, to be induced. For more info on Brian, see Gotta Have The Rumble – Brian Setzer’s Exciting New Album!
Ultimately, the best testament to the musical success that any artist can have is their fan base’s size and devotion. Some fame is fleeting, but if it is heartfelt, then it is priceless!
Be sure to take a trip to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Museum, if you haven’t already! No matter what style of music you like or play, there’s something there for you.
For info on awesome female rock guitar players, two of which are already in the Hall of Fame, see The Best Female Rock Guitar Players – Why They Totally Rule!
Tell Us What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on these great Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame guitar players or want to tell us who you would choose.
If you have any questions about these guitar players, I will be happy to try to answer them for you.
- Have you ever been to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and if so, what did you think of the exhibits?
- Do you have a favorite guitar player, and is that person in the hall of fame?
- What other guitar players do you think should be featured in this article?
- Would you like to see more articles about places that honor guitar players or have guitar exhibits?
For Telecaster Players in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, see Best Telecaster Players – These Tele Masters Will Shock You!