Famous American Guitarists

What is that one thing that strings together musical legends like Erick Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, B.B. King, Stevie Ray, Billie Gibbons and Steve Vay together? That is right – guitar! America has been home to some of the most gifted, charismatic, spotlight-drawing six-string players in music history. They were the guitarists who exuded sheer energy, raw passion, and unfathomable musical rush with that one special ax. Be it well-aged acoustic or a banged-up electric, these guitar legends drove their audience in a frenzy with every strum, inspiring millions of fans to follow suit. It is because of extraordinarily endowed guitarists like Joe Satriani, Steve Morse, Frank Zappa, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, Scott Henderson, and Dimebag Darrell that rock and roll and all that pop culture phenomena scaled to profound levels. No wonder we had an entire generation chasing the guitar dream hoping to be as creative and cool as them. Let us delve into the life, deeds, feats, timeline, trivia, and interesting facts of some of America's greatest guitarists in the biographies presented below.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Guitarists

 1 John Mayer

John Mayer
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 16, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
John Mayer went from working at a gas station to producing the multi-platinum albums Room for Squares and Heavier Things and winning multiple Grammys. He has worked with bands such as the John Mayer Trio and Dead & Company. He has written for Esquire, donates to charities, and collects watches. 

 2 Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry
0
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: October 18, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry was an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Berry is credited with pioneering rock and roll music. He is also credited with influencing the attitude with which the rock music lifestyle is usually associated. Also revered for his guitaring skills, Berry is often included in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time.

 3 Frank Vincent Zappa

Frank Vincent Zappa
0
Famous As: American musician
Birthdate: December 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: December 4, 1993

Frank Zappa was an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and bandleader. Widely regarded as one of the most stylistically diverse and innovative rock musicians of his generation, Zappa was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list in 2004. Zappa's works have influenced other musicians like Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Simon Phillips, Steve Vai, and Warren DeMartini.

 4 Benji Madden

Benji Madden
0
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: March 11, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

Along with his identical twin brother, Joel Madden, Benji Madden has been one of the greatest musical duos as far as twin siblings are concerned. A huge fan of tattoos, Benji Madden has several tattoos, including one of Benjamin Franklin, which is so big that it covers his entire back!

Recommended Lists:

 5 Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 22, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: August 8, 2017

Glen Campbell was an American TV host, actor, singer-songwriter, and guitarist. Regarded as one of the most successful musicians ever, Campbell sold more than 45 million records, which included a double-platinum album, four platinum albums, and 12 gold albums, in a career spanning 50 years. In 2014, he became the subject of a documentary titled Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me.

 6 Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: December 23, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Pearl Jam lead singer and guitarist Eddie Vedder went from being a hotel security guard to being ranked 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Best Lead Singers of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been a vocal supporter of environmental initiatives and abortion rights.

 7 Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh
0
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: November 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
You May Like

 8 Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: February 3, 1959

Widely regarded as the pioneer of Latin rock and Chicano rock, Ritchie Valens was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. Since his untimely death at the age of 17, Ritchie Valens has inspired several musicians and bands like Carlos Santana, Los Lonely Boys, and Los Lobos. Valens also inspired Robert Quine, Jimi Hendrix, Keith O'Conner Murphy, and Chris Montez among others.

 9 Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
0
Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

 10 Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Iggy Pop is an American singer-songwriter, actor, musician, and record producer. Nicknamed the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop was an important member of the proto-punk band Iggy and the Stooges. One of the first singers to perform stage-dive, Pop is credited with popularizing the activity. A culture icon, Iggy Pop has had a major influence on musicians of various genres.

 11 Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan
0
Famous As: Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer
Birthdate: October 3, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: August 27, 1990

Stevie Ray Vaughan was an American musician. Stevie achieved so much in his mainstream career, that spanned only seven years, that he is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists ever and one of the most influential and iconic musicians in the blues music history. He is credited with reviving blues-rock and his work continues to influence several artists.

 12 Dave Navarro

Dave Navarro
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: June 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

Dave Navarro is an American singer-songwriter, actor, and guitarist. Over the years, Dave Navarro has contributed immensely to the success of the popular band Jane's Addiction. Best known for his guitaring skills, Dave Navarro is often cited as alternative rock's first guitar hero. In July 2010, Epiphone Guitars released its Dave Navarro Artist Acoustic.

 13 Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley
0
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: November 17, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: May 29, 1997

Jeff Buckley was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. His only studio album, Grace, was included in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Since his untimely death at the age of 30, Jeff Buckley has been the subject of several documentaries. His death also inspired several artists to record songs in tribute to his life and career.

 14 Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert
0
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: November 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

Two-time Grammy-winning country singer Miranda Lambert is known for her hit album Platinum and the track Automatic. She was placed third in the singing contest Nashville Star. She has won more Academy of Country Music Awards than any artist. Her organization MuttNation Foundation works for rehabilitation of rescue animals.

 15 Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings
0
Famous As: Singers
Birthdate: June 15, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
Died: February 13, 2002
Waylon Jennings was one of the pioneers of outlaw country music. He began performing on KVOW radio, at age 12, and then performed with several bands, such as The Texas Longhorns, The Waylors, and The Highwaymen. He also contributed to Wanted! The Outlaws, the first platinum country album. 

 16 Billie Joe Armstrong

Billy Joe Armstrong
0
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Guitarist
Birthdate: February 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician and record producer. He is credited with co-founding and popularizing the rock band, Green Day. As a guitarist and vocalist, he has also contributed immensely to the success of the punk rock band Pinhead Gunpowder. In 1997, Armstrong founded Adeline Records to help support contemporary bands; the record company was closed in 2017.

 17 Lindsey Buckingham

Lindsey Buckingham
0
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: October 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lindsey Buckingham ruled the American rock scene with the band Fleetwood Mac, performing with his then-girlfriend, Stevie Nicks. Rolling Stone named him one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. After a brief hiatus, he rejoined the band but was fired eventually.

 18 Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow
0
Famous As: Musician, Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 11, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Sheryl Crow is an American musician, actress, and singer-songwriter. Over the years, Crow has contributed to several film soundtracks, including the iconic theme song for the popular James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. After being diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma, a form of breast cancer, Sheryl Crow opened the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center by joining hands with her surgeon Kristi Funk.

 19 James Hetfield

James Hetfield
0
Famous As: Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: August 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American

James Hetfield is an American songwriter and musician. He is credited with co-founding one of the most popular heavy metal bands of all time, Metallica. James Hetfield is often regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and vocalists ever. Since the 1980s, Hetfield has played a key role in the success of ESP Guitars, as one of its major endorsers.

 20 Mick Mars

Mick Mars
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Mick Mars gained fame as the guitarist for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe and came to be known for his aggressive style of playing the instrument. He has also written songs for bands such as Crashdïet. He has suffered from ankylosing spondylitis since his teenage years. 

 21 Skrillex

Skrillex
0
Famous As: American music producer
Birthdate: January 15, 1988
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
The side-mulleted American DJ Skrillex is best-known for bringing dubstep music to the mainstream. The illustrious musician, songwriter, and singer began his journey as a solo artist and has bagged in eight Grammy Awards. Distingusihed for giving electronic dance music a face, DJ Skrillex owns astonishing YouTube views and earns enviable touring revenue.

 22 Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: August 16, 1938

Singer and guitarist Robert Johnson is remembered as a Delta blues legend. Lack of proper documentation of his early life led to various legends surrounding him, such as one that claimed he had made a deal with the Devil to excel in music. He also inspired an award-winning biography. 

 23 Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard
0
Birthdate: April 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: April 6, 2016
Country singer Merle Haggard initially gained fame performing with The Strangers. He had several brushes with the law in his younger days, before he launched his music career. His songs reflected the angst of the working class. He won several accolades, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 24 Trace Cyrus

Trace Cyrus
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: February 24, 1989
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

The son of Billy Ray Cyrus and the oldest of the famous Cyrus siblings, Trace Cyrus is an American musician. In 2010, he formed a band named Ashland HIGH, which has released a couple of albums. Trace Cyrus is known for his eccentric style and multiple tattoos that cover his entire upper body.

 25 Steven Van Zandt

Steven Van Zandt
0
Famous As: Actor, Musician, Screenwriter, Record producer, Disc jockey, Singer, Television actor, Guitarist, Pianist, Composer
Birthdate: November 22, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

 26 Tom Morello

Tom Morello
0
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Trade unionist
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 27 Chris Pérez

Chris Pérez
0
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: August 14, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Guitarist Chris Pérez was married to Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla and performed as part of her band, Selena y Los Dinos. Following Selena’s murder by her own manager, Chris sank into depression. He later won a Grammy with the Chris Pérez Band and also wrote a book about Selena. 

 28 Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman
0
Famous As: Singer, Guitarist
Birthdate: December 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: May 27, 2017

Gregg Allman was an American musician and singer-songwriter. He is credited with co-founding the rock band The Allman Brothers Band along with his brother Duane Allman. Dubbed the Southern rock pioneer, Allman was recognized for his distinctive, soulful voice; Rolling Stone magazine named him in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list.

 29 Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: August 9, 1995

Jerry Garcia had an illustrious 30-year career as the lead guitarist and vocalist of the rock band the Grateful Dead. Rolling Stone ranked him 13th on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list. He was known for his improvisations, participated in many side projects, and released several solo albums.

 30 B.B. King

B.B. King
0
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Died: May 14, 2015
Known as “The King of the Blues,” legendary musician B. B. King introduced a signature style of soloing using string bending and vibrato. His song The Thrill is Gone won him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. He was featured on Rolling Stone’s “100 greatest guitarists of all time” list.

 31 Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor
0
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 32 Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
0
Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: November 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: September 18, 1970

One of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. As his career progressed, he became the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. He died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.

 33 Kurt Cobain

Kurt Donald Cobain
0
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: February 20, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: April 5, 1994

Gaining fame as a member of the rock band Nirvana, singer-songwriter and musician Kurt Cobain was often heralded as a spokesman of Generation X. He is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock. He enjoyed tremendous professional success, but his personal life was troubled. He died of suicide at just 27.

 34 Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin
0
Famous As: Record Producer
Birthdate: March 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

A record producer, Rick Rubin is the former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. By promoting the musical groups  Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, he helped popularize hip hop music. He has been named on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

 35 Linda Perry

Linda Perry
0
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Musician, Songwriter, Record producer, Guitarist
Birthdate: April 15, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 36 Ross Lynch

Ross Lynch
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 29, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Ross Lynch made his debut as Austin Moon in the Disney series Austin & Ally. He also appeared as Brady in the Teen Beach TV films and as Harvey Kinkle in the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. He has also delivered a Billboard-topping album with the band R5.

 37 Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell
0
Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: August 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
Died: December 8, 2004

 38 Bob Seger

Bob Seger
0
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 6, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

Singer, songwriter, and musician, Bob Seger, first gained fame in the 1960s as a heartland rock artist. Known for his classic raspy and powerful voice, he recorded many songs that dealt with themes like love and women. With worldwide sales of more than 75 million records, he is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.

 39 Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana
0
Birthdate: July 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Guitarist Carlos Santana rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s with his rock band Santana. He introduced elements of Latin American jazz in his rock music to create unique songs. He is the recipient of ten Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone magazine listed him on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists in 2015.

 40 Elijah Blue Allman

Elijah Blue Allman
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 10, 1976
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Elijah Blue Allman is an American musician. The son of Gregg Allman and Cher, Allman followed in the footsteps of his parents to establish himself in the American music industry. Elijah Blue Allman is credited with founding the popular industrial rock/industrial metal band Deadsy for which he serves as the lead vocalist and guitarist.

 41 Mike Shinoda

Mike Shinoda
0
Famous As: Musician, Record Producer & Artist
Birthdate: February 11, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Mike Shinoda, founding member, vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter of the rock band Linkin Park, was also part of the hip-hop project Fort Minor. A graphic designer too, he has displayed his artwork and designed his band’s album covers. He released an EP expressing his emotions after Chester Bennington's death.

 42 Jack Antonoff

Jack Antonoff
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 43 John Fogerty

John Fogerty
0
Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Composer, Guitarist
Birthdate: May 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 44 Bill Withers

Bill Withers
0
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: July 4, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Soul and R&B legend Bill Withers is best remembered for hits such as Ain't No Sunshine and Lean on Me. The three-time Grammy Award-winner also inspired the documentary Still Bill. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bill moved on to other jobs after his 15-year music career. 

 

 45 Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar
0
Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Guitarist, Composer
Birthdate: October 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

 46 Nat Wolff

Nat Wolff
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 17, 1994
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 47 Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: December 25, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

Jimmy Buffett is an American musician, singer-songwriter, actor, author, and businessman. Buffett, who owns the Margaritaville Cafe chain of restaurants, is one of the richest musicians in the world. Also known for his charity work, Jimmy Buffett is credited with founding a non-profit group called Save the Manatee Club, which works towards the conservation of manatees.

 48 Billy Corgan

Billy Corgan
0
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 17, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

Billy Corgan is an American professional wrestling promoter, singer, and songwriter. He is credited with forming the popular alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. He is also credited with founding Resistance Pro Wrestling and currently owns the National Wrestling Alliance promotion, for which he also serves as the promoter. Having struggled with several mental disorders, Corgan promotes abuse support networks.

 49 Ike Turner

Ike Turner
0
Famous As: Guitarist, Pianist, Actor, Singer-songwriter, Bandleader, Conductor, Singer, Record producer
Birthdate: November 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: December 12, 2007

 50 David Mustaine

David Mustaine
0
Famous As: American musician
Birthdate: September 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
Dave Mustaine performed as the lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Metallica and later left the band due to substance abuse issues. He then co-founded Megadeth and performed as its lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He also launched a metal festival named Gigantour. He is also a cancer survivor.