There are some who are only with us for a short time that makes the greatest impact on our personality and our psyche. The same is true of music. Throughout history, there have been music greats who have come into our lives for a very short time, but completely transformed all that we thought we knew and loved. Rock and Roll is difficult on those who are in the limelight. Succumbing to drugs, alcohol, and risky behaviors, artists, seem to be predisposed to burning out quickly and leaving this earth sometimes even more so. These famous guitarists may have only entertained us for the short time they were on stage, but what they did for the history of music was decades long. Revolutionizing a sound, creating a political movement, or just shattering glass ceilings and reminding us that with music there is no prejudice, these are the guitar greats that although only hear for a blip in time, will be in our hearts forever.
Jimi Hendrix will go down in history as not only the greatest musician of his time but arguably the greatest musician of all time period. At a time when equality in America was something that African American’s only dreamed of, he was shattering prejudice and awing audiences around the nation. When Jimmy picked up, a guitar prejudice and divide disappeared. Creating a musical sound that was all his own, he took the complexity of notes and arranged them to sound as if they fit perfectly. The older generation thought it was nothing but noise, but the younger listeners knew when they first heard it, that it was something more than just music, it was legend. Forever changing the way that guitar is seen in the schema of a song, Jimmy dared to dream that a guitar is all that you need to entertain an audience and change a world.
Only here for a very short time, she was also famous for that short of a time. A woman on stage belting out the notes and playing guitar the way that she wanted was something the music world, and America was not used to. Women were not the ones who were strumming guitars; they were singing love songs and dancing in sweet circles on stage. Janis Joplin changed all that. Not much to look at, she had a stage presence that made everyone stand up and take notice. Not many realize that she broke the glass ceiling for women in music and revolutionized the way that we look at the female gender on stage. Being able to hold her own at any rock music festival as a headliner, it’s what she knew about guitars that will make her one of the biggest names in rock history.
Taking on the angst of a generation, Kurt Cobain, revolutionized the sound of music. Love grunge or hate it, you have to admire its placement in the history of rock. A sound that completely overhauled the rock industry, Kurt’s talent lit up a stage. Everyone in the audience felt as if he “got” them and a generation of new rock enthusiasts felt better about their own lives watching him unravel mentally and put all his personal pain into his music. Both onstage and off, Kurt’s life was an open book. What he gave to the music world was a unique guitar genre that will forever change an entire generation of music listeners. It made doing something “outside the box” not only acceptable but highly encouraged. You would be hard pressed to find someone in their teens, early twenties or even in middle age, who doesn’t remember where they were when they heard he died. That was a day that this earth lost a great musician.
Johnny confused us all. Was he a little bit country, or a little bit rock ’n roll? The answer is yes; he was both, that is what made him such an amazing musical force on stage. The good preacher’s son turned bad, he had both an onstage presence and off. All he needed was a simple guitar and a good crowd to get everyone moving. Changing music of the time, he sang about things that were taboo and did things that were even more so. A combination of his guitar playing and his deep baritone voice made him a great who revolutionized the world of rock and country, convincing everyone that you didn’t have to be one or the other.