The Mount Rushmore of The Greatest Guitarists of All Time: Who Should Be On It?

For context, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a mountain sculpture carved in the Black Hills region of southwestern South Dakota, U.S. The colossal structure depicts the faces of four former American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. According to the artist, Gutzon Borglum, they represent important events in the American history, and serve as a symbol of freedom.

Now, a Redditor asked, “Let’s say there was a Mount Rushmore of the greatest guitarists of all time. Who would be the four people on there, in your opinion?”

Tough question, but Redditors passed different verdicts, and these are the guitarists whose legacy deserves to be cast in the stone of “Mount Rockmore”.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Half of Reddit thinks Hendrix is overrated, and the other half regards him as one of the founding fathers of the guitar world. One even compared him to Thomas Jefferson; one figure on Mount Rushmore.

“Like Jefferson, Hendrix opened an entire new continent of possibilities on the instrument, and explored most of it. No other single person did as much to show what the guitar is capable of.”

To date, Jimi Hendrix remains one of the most influential electric rock guitarists, even though he only had a four-year reign as a superstar.

2. Les Paul

Les Paul was an American jazz and blues guitarist, and one of the pioneers and inspirations of the solid-body electric guitar of the Gibson Les Paul. Artists like Jimi Hendricks, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton have enjoyed playing the guitar for its versatility.

A Redditor said, “Les Paul deserves to be there somewhere. Talk about influencing the influencers. He’s literally one of 2 people who invented the electric guitar.”

3. Prince

Prince may be renowned for his incredibly high pitches and influences on fashion and culture, but he was also a virtuoso at instruments, more specifically, guitars. He was often regarded as the next great after the Hendrix era, with a matching “electric” stage presence. His signature song, “Purple Rain,” featured one of his best guitar solos.

Prince was not a common name on this Reddit thread, and fans who saw his name dropped comments like, “finally!”, “took long enough!”, and “why did it take so long to see this one?”

4. Chuck Berry

A Redditor said, “The first Rock and Roll guitar hero. Created a basic vocabulary of rock guitar licks that influenced Joe Perry, Keith Richards, George Harrison, and thousands of others.”

Chuck Berry, influenced by musicians like T-Bone Walker and Nat King Cole, influenced other artists like Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison, and Pete Townshend. He also paved way for artists like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. He rose to prominence through his innovative, creative style, becoming one of the most influential artists of his time.

5. Eddie Van Halen

“Most influential guitarist since Hendrix, which is a little more of a mixed bag, since he inspired an army of generic shredders. Still, as bombastic a sound as Roosevelt’s foreign policy, while with musical ambitious that match Roosevelt’s wide reading and post presidential life,” u/Kai_Daigoji wrote, comparing Halen to former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

Eddie Van Halen, raised by a multi-instrumentalist, was a Dutch-born guitarist and keyboardist, renowned for his number one hit “Jump”. His record “Eruption” features one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, and the artist’s best. His love for guitar fueled his existence to the point of his death, when he was buried with the guitar “that inspired him the most.”

6. Frank Zappa

u/Its_Just_A_Typo said, “I would go with Frank Zappa as the unifier over Kiefer as a promoter of diversity in the industry – outspoken and intellectual, who brought more talent to the stage with all his bands’ incarnations and multitude of amazing musicians to make sounds that will resonate on though the future.”

Another wrote, “Zappa did some amazing things on the guitar, but I don’t see it talked about as part of his legacy very much. He was this incredible expressive, and sometimes vulnerable player, but the breadth of his compositions overshadow his personal musicianship.”

Frank Zappa was an American guitarist. He had a distinctive, experimental, and boisterous style, with a musical complexity attributed to his high IQ — 172. His non-conforming, self-governing nature presided over his lifestyle, permeating through the groundbreaking art he created.

7. Jeff Beck

A fan said, “Jeff Beck, the John Adams of his day. Rest in peace.”

Jeff Beck rose to prominence as a member of the rock band the Yardbirds. He was a founding member of Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice. Rolling Stone described him as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock” and included him in the top five of their “greatest guitarists” ranking.

Jeff Beck was one of the boundary pushing, groundbreaking guitarist, who expanded the world of rock.

8. Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is the one Redditors have crowned “The man, the legend, the myth.” Clapton is an American trailblazing guitarist, singer, songwriter, and one of the founding fathers of the rock genre. He features in major “greatest guitarists” rankings including Rolling Stone‘s and Time magazine’s. He was also part of the Yardbirds as bandmate to aforementioned Jeff Beck and the only three-time inductee to the Rock and roll Hall of Fame.

Clapton revolutionized the world of Rock and Roll; fans, through the help of a widespread meme, have immortalized him as a god.

9. Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana is an American guitarist who rose to prominence with the Santana Blues Band. He is one of the most influential and greatest guitarists of this decade. His music is renowned for its genre-bending, innovative style, inspired by the likes of B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, and Ray Charles. It is often a fusion of jazz, blues, and rock, with Latin undertones. 

Honorable Mentions:

Redditors said: “Knopfler is a poet on the guitar.

Terry Kath was the psycho from Chicago.”

Mick Mars is the most underrated hair metal guitarist out there.”

“I agree Chuck deserves a spot, but Charlie Christian basically invented the ‘guitar as a soloists instrument’”

“Yesss to BB king!!! That man puts on such a great show!”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe should be up there given that all the early Rock ‘n’ Roll people were hugely inspired by her.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Boloere Seibidor, fondly called B.S. is a Nigerian-based writer and poet. Her favorite topics to cover include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She’s been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sites. When she’s not writing, she’s delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.

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