When it comes to legendary rock guitarists, most kids know about the big three: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards.
But there has been a pantheon of gifted and innovative guitarists contributing to the evolution of popular music over the years. From blazing bebop and country soloists to soulful blues and jazz players, here are the five most influential guitarists every kid should hear.
A master of the Gibson Les Paul, Forest Richard “Dickey” Betts is a founding member of one of rock’s greatest groups: The Allman Brothers Band. Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Betts is known for his thick, greasy tone, his thematic solos, and his total master of the major pentatonic scale.
Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Betts began playing the ukelele at the age of five. By the time Betts was 16, he was touring the Florida circuit in a series of rock bands. Betts combines an array of influences ranging from country, blues, and jazz into his own signature sound.
By 1969, Betts helped form one of rock’s most successful and influential groups, the Allman Brother’s Band. Standing toe-to-toe with his bandmate Duane Allman, Betts and Allman completely rewrote the establishes rules for how two rock guitarists could play together paving the way for the era of the Southern Rock bands. Sadly, in 1971, the iconic slide guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. Betts is still alive and touring with his group, Dickey Betts and Great Southern.
In the following clip, notice how Betts and slide guitarist Warren Hayes (who joined the Allman Brothers Band in 1987) work together to create dual harmonic lines and bounce melodic ideas back and forth like a free flowing conversation with an old friend.