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The World’s Greatest Blues Guitarists

The guitar features highly in many music genres, and one of the most popular is the Blues.

Blues guitarists have been incredibly influential on the world’s music scene. Blues started to be popular in America around the latter part of the 19th Century, when in the southern states African-American communities began to sing and play the blues. And as such these early blues players were shaping the music of future generations without really knowing it. Here is a definitive list of the greatest blues guitarists that have ever played the blues.

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and was one of the very first blues musicians in America. He was a singer and songwriter who had amazing guitar skills. Johnson has inspired musicians from all spheres of music to play and enjoy music. He died at a very young age of twenty-seven which led to many legendary tales of his brief but memorable career, including with having a pact with the devil. His vocal phrasing has been copied by the likes of Eric Clapton, who cited Johnson as the most important blues musician that ever lived.

Leadbelly

Before the arrival of Robert Johnson on the blues scene, Huddie William Ledbetter created his very own version of the blues. He was famed for his dexterity on the 12-string guitar and his extremely strong vocal style. Leadybelly was an incredible musician, not only was he brilliant at playing the guitar he could also play, piano, accordion, concertina, harmonica, violin, and mandolin.

Son House

Son House was born at the turn of the century and was credited in developing a new style of blues. He introduced strong repetitive rhythms with a slide-guitar leading proceeding. His music was inspired from the Delta and you can see this in many of the gospel influences that occur in his songs.

Muddy Waters

One of the best and most influential blues musicians that every lived has to be Muddy Waters. Born McKinley Morganfield in 1913 he was the father of the blues in Chicago. His trademark loud amplified guitar dominated proceedings and the beat was infectious as well as thumping. Waters toured Britain regularly and was the inspiration behind the whole British blues explosion in the swinging ‘60s. London rocked to a backdrop of blues bands and musicians who were all copying the lead of their hero Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters

Howlin’ Wolf

Chester Burnett got his trademark Howlin’ Wolf  tag because of the way he delivered his vocals. But Burnett was also an accomplished guitarist and harmonica player. His sheer physical presence on stage combined with his booming voice made him stand out from his contemporaries at the time. Burnett was a huge man, six and a half foot tall and weighing three hundred pounds. And his vocals matched his size, nobody went to sleep at a Howlin’ Wolf concert.

These brilliant guitar players helped establish blues as a serious music genre, their influence cannot be underestimated and even today there are modern bands and artists that copy their work and style.