These OG axe-slingers dropped albums that rocked hard and fast.
by Jim Kaz
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January 27, 2009 - This past year was quite the fruitful one in the re-emergence of yesterday's guitar masters. While many fans of the axe will continue to tout Jimi Hendrix as the greatest rock player ever, the guitar went through a stirring metamorphosis during the '80s that has had a profound influence on many of today's premier players (Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom and Avenged Sevenfold six-string slayer Synyster Gates quickly come to mind). At the time, it was practically a prerequisite for every band to have its own superstar six-stringer in the ranks. And the further you delve into the history of rock-guitar heroism, it's pretty easy to see why. Many of the guitarists that came up during the 1980s were weaned on people like Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton; serious players that at times, overshadowed their respective bands. Everything got cranked up about a thousand notches with the introduction of Eddie Van Halen a few years later. Van Halen single-handedly revolutionized the guitar—in all aspects of tone, to how it was played and even constructed. Spawning hordes of feverish finger-tapping disciples, the man added a myriad of possibilities to the equation. With other heavies like Randy Rhodes, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Paul Gilbert, Zakk Wylde and Joe Satriani in the mix, the guitar enjoyed a renaissance that was unprecedented. A few of such axe-masters put out new albums this past year and reminded us of why they were (and still are) greats of the guitar.