Rock guitar gods go all the way back to Robert Johnson. The list is well-worn and not worth repeating, but regardless of whether you lean toward bluesy legends or fierce shredders chances are that the “guitar god” cliché conjures a certain image in your tinnitus-addled noggin.
But guitar virtuosity extends well beyond the “Hello Cleveland!” crowd. Here are some of the finest guitar performances you mave have never heard because they didn’t carry the Good Rock Keeping Seal Of Approval.
“Race With Devil On Spanish Highway,” Al Di Meola. Al is fast and fluid and simply amazing. Nuff said.
“Caravan,” Roy Clark. All that pickin’ and grinnin’ biased too many people. Roy was the Hee Haw guy, and that was that. Hardly. The man is a brilliant guitarist.
“Aerial Boundaries,” Michael Hedges. My personal favorite on this list. Hedges was to acoustic guitar what Eddie Van Halen was to electric. His use of tapping, unusual tunings, and even the guitar body as percussion instrument quite literally changed how many people approach the instrument.
“Eleanor Rigby,” Stanley Jordan. Jordan took what Hedges and Van Halen were doing to the nth degree, playing melody with both hands and then some. His career began as a New York City busker with a little battery-powered amp, if I remember correctly.
“Metal Fatigue,” Allan Holdsworth. Holdsworth actually got a lot of love from the shredders during the Eighties. A meticulous guitarist, I once read an interview where he noted that his goal was to know the neck so well that he didn’t even know it anymore — that there be no disconnect between his mind and the instrument.
“Dizzy Fingers,” Chet Atkins. What’s there to say? A legend.
“Hungaria,” Django Reinhardt. And speaking of legends, they don’t come more legendary than Django. His left hand severely damaged in a fire, Reinhardt played with only two fingers. You can’t keep a good guitarist down.
“Deep River Blues,” Doc Watson. Another personal favorite. Here’s Doc playing some beautiful blues.