In part two of our blog to find the greatest heavy metal guitarists of all time we explore the lives and playing of some of heavy metal’s music industry most influential musicians. No heavy metal band has ever made it to the very top without having a great guitarist in their lineup.
Fast guitar solos and rhythmic riffs are at the very core of heavy metal music and every great band has their own gunslinger to take on the world. We start this blog with a guitarist that was famous for his incredibly fast solo playing.
Randy Rhoads was a devastating loss to the music industry when he tragically died in a plane crash. Randy cut his teeth with the likes of Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne. He has to be included in our list of great heavy metal guitarists because he was such a great musician. Rhoads was as adept at playing almost any genre of rock music and his methodology of not playing metal for the sake of playing metal, really makes him an intriguing figure in heavy metal music history.
Randy Rhoads just gave himself to the music, and for the most part he loved playing heavy metal. His natural style of playing was all about enjoying and playing heavy metal and was no way pretentious, unlike some of his contemporaries.
There are not many musicians who stay with the same band for over a decade, but this is exactly what Marty Friedman did with one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time which was Megadeth. His blistering lead guitar was the focus of the band’s success during the entire 1990’s, and today he resides in Japan and hosts TV programs such as Rock Fujiyama. Friedman had a very distinctive style of playing based on his superb knowledge of music theory, his solos were often meaningful if sometimes obscure.
Marty Friedman has been called a musical genius by his peers, and his performance when he was at Megadeth demonstrates just how skillful he was. For those that have listened to his later solo work such as Dragon’s Kiss they will not be surprised by such comments.
Perhaps the name of James Hetfield on our great heavy metal guitarist list will be somewhat a surprise to some. As this American musician often took a back seat to Kirk Hammett in the highly successful band Metallica. But the fact is that it was Hetfield that wrote nearly all the guitar parts for Metallica’s songs. Kirk was often elevated to play the solos but it was Hetfield who composed everything. For those fans who listen to Metallica the mesmerizing riffs that are so associated with the band are being played by James Hetfield and not Kirk Hammett.
Hemmett’s solo style is a little bit tuned to ballads and he can play a blues solo to die for. But without his clever harmonizing with Hammett in many guitar solos the songs would never have been so powerful. We end our journey into heavy metal guitar greats with James Hetfield and a most fitting way to do so too.