The History of the Guitar & Guitar Legends: From 1929 to 1979

In the age of the Clas­si­cal Edu­ca­tion, stu­dents pored over and mem­o­rized the works of “author­i­ties,” exem­plars of gram­mar, rhetoric, log­ic, etc. Con­stel­la­tions in the night sky of igno­rance, so to speak, these writ­ers and thinkers showed the way to knowl­edge through their excel­lence. The method may have fall­en out of favor in mod­ern ped­a­gogy, but it sur­vives in pop­u­lar cul­ture, and in the videos here, pro­duc­er and musi­cian Rick Beato employs it as a way of teach­ing the his­to­ry of gui­tar.

In the episode above, he names gui­tar play­ers from 1929–1969 that “every seri­ous gui­tarist should know.” Below, he does the same for the decade of the sev­en­ties. These gui­tarists exem­pli­fy Clas­si­cal, Blues, Jazz, Coun­try and Rock & Roll gui­tar, accord­ing to Beato, and yes, he knows he prob­a­bly left off your favorite play­ers, so go ahead and men­tion them in the com­ments.

Beato includes a brief film or audio clip of each play­er, with the unspo­ken assump­tion that seri­ous stu­dents will seek out more of their record­ed music and become more famil­iar with what made them unique. In the list below, you can see the 48 names he lists in his first video.

1. Andres Segovia
2. Julian Bream
3. Charley Pat­ton
4. Robert John­son
5. Light­nin Hop­kins
6. Blind Lemon Jef­fer­son
7. Lead­bel­ly 8. Elmore James
9. Mud­dy Waters
10. Fred­die King
11. Albert King
12. B.B. King
13. Bud­dy Guy
14. Otis Rush
15. Djan­go Rein­hardt
16. Char­lie Chris­t­ian
17. Wes Mont­gomery
18. Joe Pass
19. George Ben­son
20. Bar­ney Kessel
21. Herb Ellis
22. George Van Eps
23. Ken­ny Bur­rell
24. Jim Hall
25. Grant Green
26. Tal Far­low
27. Anto­nio Car­los Jobim
28. Les Paul and Mary Ford
29. Chuck Berry
30. Hank Mar­vin
31. Dick Dale
32. George Har­ri­son
33. Kei­th Richards
34. Steve Crop­per
35. Chet Atkins
36. Jer­ry Reed
37. Glen Camp­bell
38. Jimi Hen­drix
39. Eric Clap­ton
40. Jim­my Page
41. Jeff Beck
42. Peter Green
43. Mike Bloom­field
44. John­ny Win­ter
45. Car­los San­tana
46. Jer­ry Gar­cia
47. Ritchie Black­more
48. Frank Zap­pa

The peri­od of 1970–1979 saw “some of the most sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ments for the role of the gui­tar,” brought about by the British Inva­sion, the influ­ence of the blues, and the “son­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal advances of the gui­tar.” The peri­od began with two great loss­es in the gui­tar world: jazz great Wes Mont­gomery in 1968 and Jimi Hen­drix in 1970. But many more greats soon came to promi­nence, such as clas­si­cal gui­tarists Christo­pher Parken­ing and John Williams and jazz adven­tur­ers Pat Methe­ny and Joe Pass.

Beato namechecks sev­er­al gui­tarists well-known to most of the lis­ten­ing pub­lic and many more you may nev­er have heard before. His rapid intro­duc­tion will like­ly inspire gui­tarists to learn what they can from these author­i­ties of the instru­ment, broad­en­ing both their his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge and their tech­nique. He promis­es more videos like this in the future, each cov­er­ing a new decade. Who will Beato choose as most influ­en­tial play­ers of the eight­ies, nineties, and oughties? Sub­scribe to his chan­nel to find out.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Rock Musi­cal­ly Told in 100 Gui­tar Riffs and 100 Bass Riffs

Learn to Play Gui­tar for Free: Intro Cours­es Take You From The Very Basics to Play­ing Songs In No Time

How to Build a Cus­tom Hand­craft­ed Acoustic Gui­tar from Start to Fin­ish: The Process Revealed in a Fas­ci­nat­ing Doc­u­men­tary

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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