In the decades since his passing, on December 8, 1980, John Lennon’s legend has continued to grow, both for his contributions to the Beatles and his accomplishments as a solo artist. Even so, he is rarely singled out for his acoustic guitar playing. This is perhaps due to the spotlight-grabbing abundance of “stand- alone” acoustic Beatles cuts written by Paul McCartney, such as “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” “Michelle” and “Mother Nature’s Son.”
Chet Atkins made countless recordings as a studio musician, producer and solo artist. Many of his recordings — particularly those of the artists he produced in Nashville, like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers — laid the foundation for early rock and roll.
Jerry Garcia is best known as the lead guitar player and primary singer/songwriter of the Grateful Dead. Though they are regarded as pioneers of the “jam band” genre that rose to prominence in the late Sixties, the Grateful Dead, unlike many of their counterculture contemporaries, never faltered with the changing times.
Regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Delta blues wizard Robert Johnson recorded only 29 songs (plus 13 alternate takes, in two sessions) during his 27 years of life. They were cut when he wasn’t playing for tips on street corners, in juke joints or in front of barbershops and other commercial establishments.
Of the four Beatles, George Harrison brought to the group an assortment of electric and acoustic guitar approaches, flavors influenced by everyone from Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins to the Byrds and Bob Dylan.
When Howe joined Yes in 1970, his classical influences, jazz-tinged electric guitar lines and general “experimental” musical nature had a profound impact on the band’s art-rock sound, resulting in a string of classic Seventies-era progressive rock records like The Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge.
A fan of classical music, Randy Rhoads was one of the first American guitarists to successfully incorporate classical music elements into heavy metal. (“Euro-metal” guitarists, including Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker, had also experimented with melding the two genres.)
As the Black Label Society's leader (and Ozzy's guitarist for more years than anyone else), Zakk Wylde has become infamous for his brew-tal riffage and lethal lead style. Remarkably, though, he also has a soul-stirring softer side.
In late 2006, Topeka, Kansas-based acoustic guitarist Andy McKee burst onto the global guitar scene with a solo acoustic video of "Drifting," a two-handed fingerstyle affair, oozing with percussive slaps, tasty taps and harmonic slaps. The video went viral on YouTube, and made him a star.
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the July 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store.