The Guitarists In The ’80s We Won’t Forget
via Paul Gilbert/YouTube
Raising The Bar in Guitar Playing
Rock never had any shortage of talented guitarists – from the fastest shredders to the soulful players. And as we ushered in the glam metal era of the ’80s, several axeslingers rose to the challenge being on the same level as the guitar heroes of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. And so we look back at the musicians who made their guitars sing, wail, and scream.
Here are the ’80s guitar players who made a mark in rock.
7. Yngwie Malmsteen
Known for his neoclassical metal style in playing the guitar, Yngwie Malmsteen revealed to Music Radar that he was just seven years old when he began playing the blues. That’s probably surprising to those who think all he does is shred. Although he started out with blues, he didn’t limit himself to it. He said, “The limitations of blues – well, the pentatonic scale rather, not the blues itself – led me to look for much wider harmonic ingredients.” Yep, he knows what he’s talking about.
6. Joe Satriani
If there’s only one thing you need to know about Joe Satriani, it’s that he used to teach guitar to Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, and Kirk Hammett. Let that sink it for a bit. That’s why he’s called the “musician’s musician”. He’s influential and well-respected in the music industry. He has toured with Mick Jagger and Deep Purple, and is the guitarist of supergroup Chickenfoot.
5. Paul Gilbert
A member of Mr. Big and Racer X, Paul Gilbert’s shredding skills are no joke. He was the youngest tutor at the Guitar Institute Of Technology in Hollywood – at only 19 years old. He told Classic Rock magazine,” One of the most satisfying things a musician can do is make that connection between your hands and what you’re hearing with your inner melodic generator.”
4. Alex Lifeson
Anyone who has ever touched a guitar knows who Alex Lifeson is and how he’s one of the reasons why Rush are in the upper echelon of rock. His playing is daring, powerful, and otherworldly. Speaking to Guitar Player, he said: “Whenever I’ve used acoustics, I’ve tried to keep the same sort of intent that Pete Townshend had in his acoustic parts regarding the kind of weight they carried in a song.”
3. Marty Friedman
He’s a game-changer. Best known for his stint in Megadeth, Marty Friedman inspired dozens of musicians especially those who tried to follow in his footsteps. Interestingly, he revealed to Guitar World that music wasn’t his “first choice by a long shot” and that no one in his family is musical. When asked how he found inspiration to pick up a guitar, he said: “I was always kind of emaciated and bony, so I had the perfect body type for either a rock star or a drug addict, so I decided to go for the former.”
2. Eddie Van Halen
He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s hard to deny EVH’s impact and influence on generations of guitar players. Anyone who’s seen him perform live can attest to the fact that he’s an absolute beast on the guitar. He admitted to Guitar Player, “I wasn’t into rock in Holland at all, because there really wasn’t much of a scene going on there. When we came to the U.S. I heard Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and I said, ‘Forget the piano, I don’t want to sit down-I want to stand up and be crazy.'”
1. Randy Rhoads
Even though he was gone way too soon, Randy Rhoads left an indelible mark in rock that time cannot diminish. Being the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne, he incorporated classical music style with heavy metal. And while it might not seem like a good idea on paper, he absolutely delivered the goods. Even over three decades after his death, his playing and musicianship remains unrivaled.