What started as a post for a single artist became bigger as I wanted to highlight those that I felt have made great contributions to the popularity and evolution of the instrument, no matter how long or short of time they had to do so. The guitar was my first and still one of my favorite instrument to play, despite my difficulties in actually understanding it.

David Box

It is only recently that I’ve learned about David Box and his enormous talent and dedication to the instrument. His story is quite similar to Randy Rhoads; a gifted and generous musician from a good family, intent on exploring and pushing the boundaries of the guitar and music, only to be taken away far too early.

I’ve been quite lucky to have a more personal connection as my family are friends and neighbors with David’s sister Rita, also enormously gifted in music.

Billy Gibbons

ZZ Top‘s Eliminator was one of the first rock albums I probably ever listened to.  The tone and tasteful chops of Billy’s playing are ingrained in my fellow Texan’s brain.

Tony Iomi

The guitarist of one of metal’s pioneering bands, Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi overcame numberous obstacles and even a handicap on his fretting hand to deliver some of metal’s heaviest yet groovy riffs.

Andy McKee

When I got back into playing guitar, primarily acoustic, I wanted to hear more music that featured this instrument. On Youtube I simply searched for “acoustic guitar” and Andy McKee’s Rylynn was the top result (at the time at least). His playing was sublime, although you could see (and hear) how complicated it was to play. While there are plenty of other artists on Candyrat Records, Andy McKee is still my favorite.

Charlie Parra del Riego

Like most fans I discovered Charlie’s music through his Youtube page.  Whether it was crazy metal covers of video game music or displaying his equally impressive songwriting talent, there’s no doubt Charlie has put a lot of work into his playing.  Now, I’ll admit after awhile listening to his playing is almost exhausting.  I really liked his acoustic cover of the Game of Thrones theme song, and I would love to hear more in that style.  Metal’s great and all, but after awhile I wanna hear something else!  But let there be no doubt, especially when viewing his videos, Charlie makes the guitar look fun to play, and it always fires me up to pick up mine. Charlie has a wide variety of music available on his Bandcamp page.

John Petrucci

The monster guitar player in one of progressive rock’s greatest bands Dream Theater, John Petrucci is almost intimidating in his playing for fellow guitarists. In a band of hugely talented players John is no doubt the stand-out and center of it. While his playing has evolved over the decades he continues to display tremendous skill as well as musicality in the band’s variety of songs.

Randy Rhoads

When Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne split with the band in 1979, he was back to ground zero. Starting out on his own he needed not just a guitar player but a partner in songwriting to help establish a new sound and identity. When shy Randy Rhoads, who was at the time playing in Quiet Riot, auditioned for Ozzy it was an immediate connection, and the two started writing material. Over the next 2 albums Randy and Ozzy moved from the doom-and-gloom of Sabbath and brought melodies and chord progressions that weaved together to create some of rock’s most enduring songs. This incredible partnership was cut all to short with Randy’s death in 1982. No guitarist since Randy has quite matched his style of playing, and as much as it’s missed that’s far better than falling short of attempting to imitate it.

James Taylor

While I’ve heard his music on the radio and at bookstores over the years, it’s only recently that I’ve taken the time to sat down and really listen to James Taylor‘s music.  Part of that might be my changing taste in music, looking for more laid-back and soothing songs.  A major part is also my renewed interest in acoustic guitar. Called both the greatest living acoustic guitar player as well as songwriter, James Taylor certainly has the chops and material to back that claim up, and decades later he’s still at it with an obvious enthusiasm that’s infectious to players of any instrument.

Pete Thorn

Another recent discovery, Pete Thorn is quite the eclectic player.  His recent album, Guitar Nerd, displays a wide range of playing and sounds.

Emppu Vuorinen

Guitarist and a founding member of Nightwish, Emppu has shown those of us in the U.S. how musicians from other areas of the world contribute to metal and show a unique flair all of their own. The music of Nightwish has evolved over the course of its albums, along with the rotation of singers that seems to be happening almost far too frequently now; but the solid rhythms and soaring solos from Emppu are a thankful constant.