Great Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time – Part 1

Heavy metal bands are synonymous with great guitar solos and often the lead guitarist of a such a band is the main writer and front man along with the vocalist. In this blog we try to highlight the best ever heavy metal guitarists and the bands they played for.

There has never been a heavy metal band worth its salt that did not have a demon axe man leading the band, some are very well known for brash and aggressive style of playing that suits the genre so well, but others are more like technicians who are incredibly talented musicians.

Dave Mustaine

Dave Mustaine is a man of many talents, and as well as being one of the best guitarists of all time, he also was a singer, composer, author and actor. He is best known for his days with Metallica and his love of Thrash Metal. He was one of the first pioneers of heavy metal and he invented his own way of playing, known as spider rhythm, his solos inspired many upcoming guitarists of the time. They were inventive, tuneful and fitted the songs absolutely. After getting kicked out of Metallica, he formed his own highly successful band, Megadeth.

Darrell Lance Abbott

Darrell Lance Abbott was known by two other names, Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell. He was a key player and founder member of two giant heavy metal bands, Damageplan and Pantera. Darrell was a savior of his favorite music genre and was also greatly admired by possibly the greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time, Dave Mustaine. Darrell Abbott could play incredibly fast with great skill. In 2004 he was shot dead by a deranged fan but his legendary playing lives on.

Tony Iommi

Ozzy Osbourne, left, and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath perform during the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia.

The first non-American in our all-star lineup of great heavy metal guitarists may be a little surprising as it is Englishman, Tony Iommi. He will probably be best remembered for his days in legendary Black Sabbath and is their only continual member in their lineup today.

His story is quite incredible as he lost the tip of his ring and middle fingers in an accident. And for a lead guitarist that is devastating in the extreme. He went through a period of depression following the accident and even thought of giving up playing.

After studying the work and playing of the famous Django Reinhardt he took new heart from the fact that the incredible jazz guitarist’s fretting hand was severely damaged due to a prior injury. Tony Iommi overcame his disability by tuning his guitar to make it easier to play, which many say helped the birth of heavy metal as a rock music genre.

It was Tony Iommi that took what had gone on before in rock music, turned it on its head and started afresh. He was the first guitarist to play with heavy distortion, played at lightning speed and had some great killer riffs up his sleeve. In part two we look at other great guitarists that helped fashion heavy metal into the music form it is today.