Real-Life Guitar Heroes

Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew of King Crimson
The electric guitar has always held a special place in my musical heart. It was the first instrument I truly identified with. My mom had an old nylon string acoustic that I would pretend to play. When my parents gave me a copy of Smash Hits by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, I was instantly transfixed, hooked. I used to play tennis racquet air guitar along to Van Halen’s “Eruption.” I would seek out bands that featured bad-ass guitar players, and to this day I still thoroughly enjoy a shredding guitar solo.
Seeing your favorite guitarist perform live is a special moment for any music lover or musician. Seeing a shitload of them is something else—you begin to collect memories of amazing concerts and performances as if they were signposts to the great moments in your life.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite heavy hitters that I’ve had the honor to see live, in alphabetical order:
Jeff Beck
Adrian Belew
Eric Clapton
Robert Fripp
Billy Gibbons
David Gilmore
Steve Howe
Alex Lifeson
Jimmy Page
Matt Pike
Marc Ribot
Keith Richards
Pete Townshend
Eddie Van Halen
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Joe Walsh
Johnny Winter
Ron Wood
Angus Young
And a longer list of other great lead and rhythm players I’ve had the chance to see, with the bands they were performing with at the time:
Trey Anastasio (Phish)
Jay Bennett (Wilco)
R. L. Burnside
Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
Vivian Campbell (Dio)
Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)
Elvis Costello (The Attractions)
Steve “The Colonel” Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.’s)
Rick Derringer
The Edge (U2)
John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
Jeff Hanneman (Slayer)
James Hetfield (Metallica)
David Hidalgo (Los Lobos, Latin Playboys, Houndog)
Brent Hinds (Mastodon)
Josh Homme (Them Crooked Vultures)
John Lee Hooker
Bill Kelliher (Mastodon)
Scott Kelly (Neurosis)
Kerry King (Slayer)
Larry LaLonde (Primus)
Jake E. Lee (Ozzy Osbourne)
Nils Lofgren (The E Street Band)
Mick Mars (Mötley Crue)
J. Mascis
Paul McCartney
Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)
Bob Mould
Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick)
Liz Phair
Trevor Rabin (Yes)
David Rawlings (Gillian Welch)
Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos)
Mike Rutherford (Genesis)
Frank “Poncho” Sampedro (Crazy Horse)
Carlos Santana
Joey Santiago (The Pixies)
Mike Scheidt (YOB)
Brian Setzer (Stray Cats)
Elliot Smith (solo and with Heatmiser)
Bruce Springsteen
Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Joe Strummer (The Mescaleros)
Mike Stern
Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
Jimmie Vaughan (guesting with Bob Dylan)
Tom Verlaine (Television)
Hank Williams III
Neil Young (Crazy Horse)
Steven Van Zandt (The E Street Band)
Billy Zoom (X)
Who’s on your list?
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One Response to Real-Life Guitar Heroes

  1. Joe Popp says:

    That is a great list of guys that you have seen! You are a lucky man to have witnessed so many great talents. I only hope we get replacements for the ones that have left us…

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