The 4 artists who have appeared on Guitar World's cover more than any other

Guitar World covers depicting artists most frequently featured
(Image credit: Future)

#GuitarWorld40: In 2020, Guitar World marks its 40th anniversary. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we’ll be sharing key moments from the magazine’s storied history, taking you inside the guitars, the stars and the bizarre from 40 years of the world’s biggest guitar magazine.

Metalheads around the world are all too familiar with the concept of “The Big 4,” as in the four titans from the glory days of thrash metal: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Well, here at Guitar World, we have our own “Big 4,” a group made up of the four monsters of rock who have graced our covers more than any other: Led Zeppelin, Eddie Van Halen, Metallica and Jimi Hendrix.

The numbers alone are interesting. These four have appeared on our covers in various forms 79 times; 57 of which came within our first 300 issues. While Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin have claimed a total of 24 covers compared with Eddie Van Halen’s 22, it was EVH who had four cover stories alone between January 1981 and July 1985 before Page, Metallica (who have 19 in all) or Hendrix (14) even had one.

These 79 issues have been some of the most special – and spectacular – in our history, chock-full of exclusive and classic interviews, in-depth album retrospectives and anniversaries, photoshoots featuring the artists and their most prized guitars, private lessons, extensive greatest-songs lists and reports on reissues and box sets.

We’ve celebrated reunions, orchestrated historic meetings between these players (save for Hendrix) and some of their heroes and peers, and chronicled some pretty wild and often regrettable hairdos over the years.

When you think about it, is there anyone in rock guitar more deserving of these 79 issues than Zeppelin, Van Halen, Metallica and Hendrix? Not as far as we’re concerned – and we consider it an honor and an accomplishment to have had them leading the way for all of us for 40 years.

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Jeff Kitts

As a teenager, Jeff Kitts began his career in the mid ’80s as editor of an underground heavy metal fanzine in the bedroom of his parents’ house. From there he went on to write for countless rock and metal magazines around the world – including Circus, Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs, Rock Power and others – and in 1992 began working as an assistant editor at Guitar World. During his 27 years at Guitar World, Jeff served in multiple editorial capacities, including managing editor and executive editor before finally departing as editorial director in 2018. Jeff has authored several books and continues to write for Guitar World and other publications and teaches English full time in New Jersey. His first (and still favorite) guitar was a black Ibanez RG550.