The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
Players whose talents, attitude and style have made the guitar the coolest instrument ever.
Born April 10, 1959
Bands Stray Cats, Brian Setzer Orchestra
Iconic Guitar 1959 Gretsch 6120
Coolest Riff “Runaway Boys”—Stray Cats
Most musicians who revive a musical style from the past are like classic-car restorers, refusing to modify it in any way and insisting on keeping it exactly as it was back in the day. Brian Setzer is more like a hot rodder, keeping certain essential elements as a foundation but updating them with a lot more power, speed and style.
With the Stray Cats he made rockabilly sound as dangerous as punk, and his fleet-fingered solos impressed even the most technically minded metalheads. He pulled off a similar feat in the Nineties with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, making big-band jazz appealing to rockers.
Although Gretsch went out of business and ceased making guitars about the same time that the Stray Cats emerged, Setzer helped bring the company back to life by showing players just how cool Gretsch guitars could sound. As a result, Setzer was the first artist since Chet Atkins to be honored with his own signature-model Gretsch guitar.
For those of us who dread Christmas music, Setzer’s holiday collections with the Brian Setzer Orchestra provide relief, giving guitar fans plenty of shredding solos to enjoy in between schmaltzy verses about figgy pudding and some fat, creepy man in red velvet pajamas.
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