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The Top Ten Guitarists of the Southern Rock Era

The Greatest Guitar Slingers of The Southern Rock Era

by Michael Buffalo Smith

1. Duane Allman
Duane is pretty much the undisputed King of Southern Rock era guitarists. No small wonder. Skydog laid down some of the best guitar tracks ever committed to magnetic tape during his brief 25 year life, and anyone who was lucky enough to see Duane play live will certainly never, ever forget it. Vacillating between scorching lead riffs and smoldering slide work, Skydog was the very best.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: “Mountain Jam” on Eat a Peach

2. Toy Caldwell
The lead guitar player from Spartanburg, SC took The Marshall Tucker Band into the stratosphere in the early seventies, as their primary songwriter and the “fastest thumb in the South” on guitar.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: The entire live disc of the Where We All Belong double album, especially “Every Day I Have The Blues.”

3. Ed King
The California kid and former Strawberry Alarm Clocker wrote and played some of Southern Rock’s most memorable licks as guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: Ed’s signature lick that opens “Sweet Home Alabama” is one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history.

4. Hughie Thomasson
The founder of The Outlaws had both a unique vocal sound and a unique guitar style that set him apart from everyone else in the pack. There were times when his guitar artistry seemed to stem from another realm of time and space.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: “Green Grass and High Tides.” Amazing.

5. Allen Collins
The high energy, tall and lanky, dancing and leaping Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist blazed across the strings, and consistently raised the bar for Southern Rockers everywhere.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: “Freebird,” especially the end jam, live version. Wowzer.

6. Dickey Betts
The Allman Brothers Band guitarist brought a country rock and blues style into a band that blended blues, Southern soul and jazz to create a one of a kind sound that set the bar for all the bands in their wake.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

7. Dave Hlubek
Co-founder of Molly Hatchet and one of three guitarists in the band, Dave played his instrument like a renegade outlaw biker on steroids.

8. Gary Rossington
One of the three original guitar slingers of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the man who today still carries their flag into the future.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: The opening slide to “Free Bird.”

9. Tommy Crain
Tommy joined The Charlie Daniels Band in 1975, and brought in a new energy. Whether playing dual leads with Charlie or smoking on a solo, Crain ruled the roost for over 15 years of hits.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: “Still in Saigon,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

10. Tommy Talton
A true master of acoustic and electric lead and slide, Talton played some of the most brilliant music of the Capricorn Records era with his band Cowboy.
DEFINITIVE GUITAR WORK: The entire “Reach for the Sky” LP.

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