Guitarists

A musician playing any of the guitar family instruments like the acoustic guitars, bass guitars, electric guitars and the classical guitars is known as a guitarist. Guitar is an immensely popular musical instrument and time and again guitarists have enjoyed great fame and admiration from the masses. To impart an almost vocal quality, guitarists employ several techniques including bending and vibrato and showcase their virtuosity with this versatile instrument. The mellifluent tones of this instrument can hold its audience in trance, and many prominent guitarists through their sheer brilliance and elegance of their craft have left an indelible impression on the world of music. However, the styles of playing the instrument varies depending on the types of string used and may also include techniques used for playing other stringed instruments. Innumerable magazines have compiled the lists of the greatest guitarists of all time including the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine and ‘Guitar World’ magazine featuring names such as Keith Richards and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Here we bring you the biographies of some of the most successful guitarists of all time with extensive details pertaining to their childhood, career, personal life and legacy.

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

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 1 George Harrison

George Harrison
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: February 25, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: November 29, 2001

Gaining fame as the lead guitarist of the rock band, the Beatles, English musician, George Harrison, helped broaden the scope of popular music in the Western world. He was also successful as a solo performer and released many best-selling albums. He was named in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

 2 Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen
4
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: January 26, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nijmegen
Died: October 6, 2020

Eddie Van Halen was an American songwriter and guitarist. The co-founder of the popular rock band Van Halen, Eddie is widely considered one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock music. He is credited with popularizing the tapping technique, which is now used extensively by guitarists all over the world.

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 3 Brian May

Brian May
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 19, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hampton, London, England

Queen guitarist and singer-songwriter Brian May is also a PhD in astrophysics. One of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and Guitar World’s second-greatest guitarist, he received a CBE. He was a Chancellor of Liverpool at John Moores University, has worked with NASA, and fights for animal rights.

 4 Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lubbock, Texas, United States
Died: February 3, 1959

Musician and singer-songwriter Buddy Holly was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. Born to a musical family, he learned to sing and play the guitar as a child. He began his career as a teenager and found much success within a short period. Sadly, he died in an aircraft crash when he was just 22 years old.

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 5 Neil Young

Neil Young
5
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: November 12, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

One of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers of all time, Neil Young has worked both solo as well with bands like Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The Grammy award winning musician’s notable albums include After the Gold Rush, Harvest, Harvest Moon and Ragged Glory. He strongly backs environmental and disability issues too.

 6 Paul Simon

Paul Simon
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: October 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

One half of the popular musical duo Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon is a singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters of all time. His career, which has spanned more than 60 years, has been so influential that Time named him among the 100 People Who Shaped the World in 2006.

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 7 Frank Vincent Zappa

Frank Vincent Zappa
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: December 21, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
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.

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 8 Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton
8
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: March 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ripley, England

Eric Clapton, the rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, is considered one of the most influential guitarists of all time. In the 1970s, he recorded a number of successful solo albums and continued to do so over the next several decades and is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has had issues with alcohol and drugs.

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 9 Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan
4
Famous As: Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer
Birthdate: October 3, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dallas
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.

 10 Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry
10
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Guitarist
Birthdate: October 18, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
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.

 11 Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: November 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Macleod, Canada

Joni Mitchell is one of the most popular Canadian singer-songwriters. Widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, her songs reflect her feelings about joy, romance, disillusionment, and confusion. Apart from being a musician, Joni is also a visual artist who designs most of her album covers. In fact, she calls herself a painter derailed by circumstance.  

 12 Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer
Birthdate: November 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States

Joe Walsh is an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer. Over the years Walsh has contributed to the success of popular rock bands such as Eagles and James Gang. In 1998, he was made an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was ranked 54th on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

 13 Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page
4
Famous As: Musician, Record Producer
Birthdate: January 9, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Heston, Middlesex, England

An English musician, songwriter, and record producer, Jimmy Page gained international recognition as the founder of the popular rock band Led Zeppelin. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and greatest guitarists of all time, Jimmy Page was ranked third in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Jimmy Page has influenced several popular guitarists.

 14 Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
0
Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: November 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
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.

 15 James Hetfield

James Hetfield
6
Famous As: Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: August 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Downey, California, United States

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.

 16 Angus Young

Angus Young
5
Famous As: Co-founder & Lead Guitarist of the Hard Rock Band, AC/DC
Birthdate: March 31, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow
Angus Young, AC/DC co-founder, lead guitarist, and songwriter, migrated to Australia at 13. After dropping out of school at 15, he started playing instruments. Named the Best Australian Guitarist of All Time by Australian Guitar magazine, he is known for his uniform outfits and for reviving Chuck Berry's "duck walk."
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 17 Lindsey Buckingham

Lindsey Buckingham
5
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: October 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Palo Alto

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 Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hazlehurst, Mississippi, United States
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. 

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 19 Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Francisco
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.

 20 B.B. King

B.B. King
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berclair, Mississippi
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.
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 21 Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana
7
Birthdate: July 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, México

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.

 22 Lou Reed

Lou Reed
6
Famous As: Musician, Singer
Birthdate: March 2, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Southampton, New York, United States
Died: October 27, 2013
Lou Reed redefined the glam rock genre with his album Transformer. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee initially wrote sings for Pickwick Records and performed with the Velvet Underground. He then released 20 solo albums. His parents had made him go through electro-shock therapy to “cure” his bisexuality.

 23 Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 12, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Glasgow

Best known as the lead guitarist and singer of the popular rock band Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler is one of Britain’s most celebrated guitar icons. Known for hits such as Sultans of Swing, he and his band also released Brothers in Arms, one of the best-selling albums of all time.

 24 Slash

Slash
10
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 23, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hampstead

Slash is an English-American songwriter, musician, and record producer. After achieving popularity as the lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses, Slash left the band to form Velvet Revolver, a hard rock supergroup. Widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock, Slash is often named in lists, such as the Top Guitarists of All Time.

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 25 Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell
5
Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: August 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
Died: December 8, 2004

 26 John Mayer

John Mayer
8
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 16, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States
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. 

 27 Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett
4
Famous As: American musician
Birthdate: November 18, 1962
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Francisco
Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Metallica, was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list. He was previously part of the group Exodus. His collection of horror memorabilia was released as a book, and he also started an annual horror convention.

 28 Tom Morello

Tom Morello
7
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Trade unionist
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

Tom Morello is an American musician, rapper, singer, actor, songwriter, and political activist. Morello is best known for his association with Rage Against the Machine, which he co-founded with Zack de la Rocha. Renowned for his creative and unique guitar playing style, Tom Morello was ranked among the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

 29 Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend
4
Famous As: Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: May 19, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England

Pete Townshend is an English guitarist, composer, and singer. He is credited with co-founding and leading one of the most influential and important rock bands of the 20th century, The Who. Also an influential guitarist, Pete Townshend was ranked 10th in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 greatest guitarists of all time list published in 2011.

 30 Alanis Morisette

Alanis Morisette
4
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: June 1, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Alanis Morisette is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter and actress. Renowned for her mezzo-soprano voice, Morisette has been named by Rolling Stone as the Queen of Alt-Rock Angst. A recipient of 13 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards, Morisette has released several successful albums, including Jagged Little Pill, which was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

 31 Peter Green

Peter Green
4
Famous As: Musician & Songwriter
Birthdate: October 29, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bethnal Green, London

Peter Green was an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Green is credited with founding the popular British-American rock band, Fleetwood Mac. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Named in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list, Green has influenced many other guitarists like Joe Perry and Gary Moore.

 32 Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: April 4, 1913
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Issaquena County, Mississippi
Died: April 30, 1983
Grammy-winning blues singer McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, is considered the father of modern Chicago blues. He is remembered for his tracks Hoochie Coochie Man and Rollin' Stone, with the latter inspiring the name of the band The Rolling Stones. He shaped the rock and roll genre.

 33 Troyal Garth Brooks

Troyal Garth Brooks
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 7, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer-songwriter. Having sold over 170 million records worldwide, Brooks is one of the best-selling musicians in the world. He is also the best-selling solo albums musician in the US. Also known for his charitable activities, Garth Brooks established the Teammates for Kids Foundation in 1999, which provides financial support to charities for kids.

 34 Roger Taylor

Roger Taylor
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: King's Lynn, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom
Roger Taylor soared to fame as the drummer of the iconic rock band Queen. A Planet Rock poll named him the eighth-greatest classic rock drummer. Taylor also became known for his falsetto vocal range and co-wrote hits such as Innuendo and Under Pressure. He also appeared on Pop Quiz.

 35 Steve Vai

Steve Vai
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Songwriter
Birthdate: June 6, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Carle Place, New York, United States
Three-time Grammy-winning guitarist and singer Steve Vai began his career as a transcriptionist for Frank Zappa and played for his band till he launched his solo career. Guitar World named him the “10th Greatest Guitarist. His music was featured in music videos such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

 36 Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Musician, Classical guitarist
Birthdate: December 6, 1956
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Santa Monica
Died: March 19, 1982

 37 Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi
6
Birthdate: March 2, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Perth Amboy, New Jersey, United States

Known as the iconic founder of the popular rock band Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi is a record producer and singer-songwriter. In 2012, he was named in Billboard magazine's The Most Powerful and Influential People In The Music Business list. Also a well-known philanthropist, he founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in an attempt to eradicate poverty and homelessness.

 38 Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pacoima, Los Angeles, California, United States
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.

 39 Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder
5
Famous As: Musician & Singer
Birthdate: December 23, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois, United States
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.

 40 Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell
4
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: April 22, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Billstown, Arkansas, United States
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.

 41 David Gilmour

David Gilmour
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist, Record producer
Birthdate: March 6, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge ,England

Pink Floyd guitarist/singer David Gilmour helped the band become one of the best-selling acts ever. One of Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest guitarists of all time, he has also been an advocate of animal rights and other causes. He once auctioned off 120 guitars, including his iconic Black Strat, for charity.

 42 Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 8, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Burbank, California

Bonnie Raitt is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist. Despite little commercial success at the beginning of her career, Raitt remained persistent until she had her first major hit in 1989. She has been named in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time lists. She also supports organizations like Little Kids Rock.

 43 Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Muskegon

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.

 44 Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens
13
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: July 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England

British singer, Cat Stevens, has released more than 15 studio albums and has churned out many hit songs. He converted to Islam in 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. He was slammed for reportedly backing the death fatwa on author Salman Rushdie. He has also been accused of allegedly having ties with terrorist organisations, a charge he has vehemently denied.

 45 Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kingston, Canada
Canadian rock guitarist and singer Bryan Adams, known for his cult classics Everything I Do and Summer of '69, has won 20 Juno Awards and a Grammy. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee is also an avid animal rights activist and a professional photographer who has held several exhibitions.

 46 Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer
Birthdate: December 16, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Houston

 47 Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain
1
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: February 20, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Aberdeen, Washington, United States
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.

 48 James Taylor

James Taylor
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 12, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Five-time Grammy Award-winning folk singer James Taylor is best known for his hits You've Got a Friend and Fire and Rain. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, he has sold over 100 million records worldwide and has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 49 Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Songwriter
Birthdate: April 14, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weston-super-Mare

 50 Duane Allman

Duane Allman
3
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer, Musician, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 20, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nashville
Died: October 29, 1971
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