A gaze through the works of some of Blues guitar players will unleash how this genre emerged and made a place in the hearts of millions all across the globe. Take a look.
They didn’t play it. They lived it. They were good men, and when they felt bad, they created Blues. These words that I scribble in black over white fail to depict the finesse they had, the emotions they displayed, and the real nuances their music owned. They’re the gods of Blues – their chords were the language they spoke, their hymns christened their names in the Blues Hall of Fame, and their guitar-play made you buy the ticket to hysteria.
The story of Blues is often narrated as black culture laying the brass-tacks to an eternity of prominence and influence in the American society. Blues talks about betrayal, sadness, misfortune, and regrets. But Blues also talks about getting over the sadness, and looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. Well, that’s how the most esteemed Blues guitar players of all time describe the genre. Today, as I enlist those who got their names christened on the Blues Hall of Fame forever, chances are, our choices will differ. But that’s how we celebrate music – a few names I take, and a few names you suggest. This way, we pay tribute to those who transformed Blues into what it is today. To minimize controversy, the names are randomly picked. No ranking involved. Trust me.
Famous Blues Guitar Players of All Time
(1925 – present)
Riley B. King, better known as B.B. King, has enjoyed #3 position on the list of the ‘100 greatest guitarists of all time’ presented by the Rolling Stones. Born in Indianola, Mississippi, King has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along with being awarded the National Medal of Arts, and the National Heritage Fellowship. Not to forget, B.B. King has received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 for his works and contribution to the music industry. His most famous works include ‘3 O’Clock Blues’, Everyday I Have the Blues’, and ‘The Thrill is Gone’.
(1945 – present)
If B.B. King was #3, Eric Patrick Clapton was ranked #4 on the list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time. He is the only inductee to be placed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thrice. Eric Clapton is one of the most famous names you will come across when it comes to Blues music. His song ‘Tears in Heaven’, won a total of 6 Grammys at the 35th Grammy Awards, the song that truly expressed grief of his lost son who died in an accident. He has won 17 Grammy awards, and well, that also marks his worth, given that he is ranked #4 in the list of Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time. Clapton’s famous works include ‘Before You Accuse Me’, ‘Have You Ever Loved a Woman’, ‘Worried Life Blues’, and ‘Wonderful Tonight’.
(1911 – 1938)
He wasn’t as famous when he lived as he is today, thanks to his impeccable combination of guitar skills, songwriting prowess, and an unmatched talent of singing Blues. It seems like it was because of Johnson’s influence on Delta Blues that Eric Clapton called him the most important Blues singer that ever lived. The Rolling Stones christened Johnson’s name on #5 on their list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, Johnson has had immense influence on the world, with his songs having been recorded by artists such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Lee Roy Parnell, and his poetry being taught today at the University level. There is a rich collection of music that comes from the ‘Grandfather of Rock and Roll’, the most famous being ‘Sweet Home Chicago’, ‘Cross Road Blues’, ‘Me and the Devil Blues’, and ‘They’re Hot’.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
(1954 – 1990)
The journey of Stephen ‘Stevie’ Ray Vaughan has been very diverse, being of influence in Texas Blues that made him get ranked at #7 in the list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stones. Born in Dallas, Texas, Vaughan was the frontman for his band Double Trouble. Stevie Ray Vaughan won 6 Grammys (nominated for a total of 12 Grammys). Along with winning the Grammys, Vaughan also won 5 W.C. Handy Awards, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. He also recorded songs by James Brown, Johnny Copeland, and Lonnie Mack, who was his mentor. Vaughan’s famous works included ‘Pride and Joy’, ‘Crossfire’, ‘Little Wing’, and ‘The Sky is Crying’.
(1910 – 1975)
Born in Linden, Texas, Aaron Thibeaux ‘T-Bone’ Walker had shocked everyone with his musical maturity and ability with his very first single ‘Mean Old World’, and a prowess to play Blues with the electric guitar. Most of his songs have ruled the R&B charts during the years he was active, which then made Walker enter into the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1980 and 1987, respectively. He was also ranked #43 in the list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time by the Rolling Stones, and his most famous works included ‘Stormy Monday’, ‘I’m Still in Love With You’, ‘Strollin’ With Bones’, and ‘Bobby Sox Blues’.
You disagree. I so knew that. However, to bring our picks a little closer to match, here I enlist the names of those guitar players that, even though couldn’t make it to my top-5, are still unbeatable. Names of the top 10 Blues guitar players go as follows:
- Albert King
- Buddy Guy
- Johnny Winter
- Muddy Waters
- Otis Rush
- Peter Green
- Freddie King
- Mike Bloomfield
- Albert Collins
- Earl Hooker
They played euphoric Blues, and made the yesteryears worth remembering for us, the modern Blues lovers.
On with the list, mine was just a feeble attempt of assembling a few of the many noticeable artistic expressions of the famous Blues guitar players, that appease your ears with their mystic manipulation of fingers and strings.