I have wanted to put this out there for the general public and see what people's take are on the following. Who are the top 10 most influential guitar players in history. It's not a popularity contest here or what people have told you over the years, it's who you think changed the face of guitar and guitar playing over the years. It's what the guitarists brought to the table with either a technique, style, riffs, guitar product, even production ideas as a guitar player, basically anything that changed the face of guitar for everyone after them. You don't have to have an order of 1-10, just the top 10 in your mind and heart. I'm not going to put mine down right now but I'll start with Eddie Van Halen as one of the ten on my list. Everyone have fun with this.
a lot of great guitar players on the list and without being repetitive lemme add 2 more-perhaps not as well known because of the lack of solo work and very laid back personalities- but 30+ years of sessions and countless hit records warrant a bit of luv:
A) Tim Pierce- When Dan Huff, Eric Clapton & Roger Waters bring you in to play on their records and the records they produce- well n'uff said...... if you don't know him- google him- don't know if anyone has played on more hit records since the mid 80's across a wider spectrum ;)
B) Grant Guiessman- how many guitar players ape'd the licks of the 18 year old who broke through with chuck mangione- "feels so good" was his first recording- that was in 76-77?? and he is still a first call guy in LA.
I may be mistaken but Charlie Christian was one of the first to apply amplification to I believe his arch top guitar so clearly he would have to be at the top of the list not to mention he took guitar playing out of mere auxiliary role to being a solo featured instrument. Then of course Django influenced every ensuing jazz player and many rock players even if they were unaware of his influence. So they arguably have to be one and two.
Roots blues tree:
5-Chuck Berry (influenced the entire succesion of rock and roll players)
These 3 I would site as a collective influence on the country limb of the guitar tree:
6-Merle Travis (for the Travis Picking)
7-Chet Atkins ( Merle Travis on Steroids)
8-Lenny Breau (Chet Atkins on Steroids)
Can't leave out the Brazilian tree
and probably 10 more
11-Wes Montgomery (anyone that ever played octaves it's because of WM)
12-Jimi Hendrix (took the blues based pentatonic playing on an LSD trip and it resurfaced in the playing of every rock guitarist that ever played afterwards)
13-Jaco Pastorius (didn't even play the guitar but is a major influence on all instrumentalists)
This list leaves out the whole genre of classical guitar but these guitarists live on vicariously is one shape, form or fashion through any one who has played the instrument in the 20-21st centuries
Ooops- I probably left out quite few innovators with wide spread influence but Charlie Parker cannot be left off of the list. Every bop guitarist I have ever talked to cites CP as their main influence
Also I should have put Chuck Berry in the R & R tree with Hendrix listed as Chuck Berry on a mixture of Steroids and LSD)