Hendrix began playing guitar when he was 15 years old. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1961, but was discharged the following year. Soon after, he relocated to Clarksville, Tennessee, and began working on the chitlin' circuit, earning a spot in the Isley Brothers' backing band and later with Little Richard, with whom he worked until mid-1965. He then worked with Curtis Knight and the Squires before relocating to England in late 1966, after Animals bassist Chas Chandler became his manager. Within months, Hendrix and the Jimi Hendrix Experience had three UK top ten hits: "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze," and "The Wind Cries Mary." shattered our perceptions of what rock music could be: He messed around with the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio, and the stage. His instrument is like a divining rod of the turbulent Sixties on songs like "Machine Gun" or "Voodoo Chile" – you can hear riots in the streets and napalm bombs dropping in his "Star-Spangled Banner." His playing appeared to be effortless. There isn't a single minute of his recorded career that feels like he's working hard at it – it all seems to be flowing through him. "Little Wing" is the most beautiful song in the Jimi Hendrix canon. It's just this gorgeous song that, as a guitarist, you could study your entire life and never get down, never get inside it like he does. He seamlessly blends chords and single-note runs and employs chord voicings not found in any music book. His riffs were like a pre-metal funk bulldozer, and his lead lines were like an electric LSD trip down to the crossroads, where he pimped-slapped the devil.
Pink Floyd's David Gilmour is drawn to floating, dreamy textures as a producer and songwriter, but when he picks up his black Stratocaster to play a solo, he has a completely different sensibility: "I wanted a bright, powerful lead guitar tone that would basically rip your face off," he says. He was a fiery, blues-based soloist in a band that rarely played blues – his sprawling, elegant, relentlessly melodic solos were as jarring as the alarm clocks on The Dark Side of the Moon. But, as seen in Floyd's Live at Pompeii days, Gilmour was also capable of droning avant-garde improv and could be an unexpectedly funky rhythm guitarist, from the slinky riff on "Have a Cigar" to the Chic-like flourishes on "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." His innovative use of echo and other effects – inspired by original Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett – culminated in his precise use of delay on "Run Like Hell," which foreshadowed the Edge's signature sound.
Slash may have spent much of his Guns n' Roses career shirtless, drunk, and surrounded by snakes, but he restored good taste and restraint to hard-rock guitar. "It was a stripped-down rock & roll sound in comparison to what everyone else was doing," Slash says. He could riff like Joe Perry and intertwine with Izzy Stradlin like the Stones. And lyrical solos like "November Rain's" from-the-mountaintop grandeur were permanently woven into the songs' fabric. "It's difficult to play those solos any other way," Slash says. "It'll sound strange." Slash formed Slash's Snakepit in 1993, and in 1996 he left Guns N' Roses to co-found the supergroup Velvet Revolver, which re-established him as a mainstream performer in the mid to late 2000s. Slash has released four solo albums: Slash (2010), Apocalyptic Love (2012), World on Fire (2014), and Living the Dream (2018), all of which were recorded with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. In 2016, he rejoined Guns N' Roses.
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