Six Overlooked Blues-Rock Guitarists

Let be honest here, shall we? Blues-rock fretburners like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan typically receive all the love while other talented guitarists are too often forced to wait in line to gather up whatever crumbs of critical acclaim remain. These skilled musicians bring plenty of heart and soul to the party, however, and they should be recognized for their contributions to the music. Here are the Reverend's picks for six criminally-overlooked blues-rock guitarists.

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Coco Montoya

Coco Montoya's The Essential Coco Montoya
Coco Montoya's The Essential Coco Montoya. Photo courtesy Blind Pig Records

Of the many blues-rock oriented guitarists that came to prominence in the wake of Stevie Ray Vaughan's commercial success, few are as overlooked (and underrated) as bluesman Coco Montoya. By the time of Stevie Ray's mid-1980s fame, Montoya already had the better part of a decade of experience under his belt, and with the launching of his solo career in the early-1990s, Montoya has been able to fully explore his singing and playing talents with an inspired mix of blues, blues-rock, soul, and R&B music.

Recommended Album: "The Essential Coco Montoya"

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Gary Moore

Photo of Gary MOORE
Redferns / Getty Images

Much like his fellow countryman Rory Gallagher, blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore is a respected and commercially-successful artist in Europe while remaining virtually unknown in the United States. A talented guitarist capable of performing fluid jazz licks and screaming blues riffs alike, Moore's career has seen him perform in a diverse range of styles with bands as varied as Thin Lizzy and Colosseum II. It is Moore's blues-rock work that has earned him a growing stateside audience, however, his popularity growing as he continues to plumb the depths of the blues.

Recommended Album: "Bad For You Baby"

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Michael Bloomfield

Paul Butterfield Blues Band Live
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Michael Bloomfield was the first white blues guitarist of note, a skilled technician that was taught his craft by the Chicago bluesmen that took the teenaged prodigy under their wing. As talented as he was, however, Bloomfield suffered from deep-seated insecurities and constant insomnia, which in turn resulted in a long-time battle with drugs and alcohol that the guitarist inevitably lost. At his best, though, Bloomfield was a transcendent talent, and he helped popularize authentic Chicago blues with white audiences during the mid-1960s, thereby influencing a generation of young blues-rock guitarslingers.

Recommended Album: "The Paul Butterfield Blues Band"

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Robin Trower

Paul Natkin Archive
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Blues-rock guitarist Robin Trower, while usually not regarded in the same league with contemporaries like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, has nevertheless done as much as either artist in bringing an artistic vision of British blues to American audiences. While Trower's early solo work is undeniably influenced by the incendiary six-string pyrotechnics of Jimi Hendrix, during past couple of decades, Trower has pursued a decidedly bluesy slant with his playing, and he continues to perform and record to considerable acclaim well into his 60s.

Recommended Album: "What Lies Beneath"

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Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher
Redferns / Getty Images

Blues-rock guitarist Rory Gallagher was one of the first notable rock musicians from Ireland, his story one of both triumph and tragedy. During a career that spanned nearly three decades, Gallagher sold almost 30 million records worldwide, making a name for himself as an inventive guitarist and dynamic bluesman. Since his death in 1995, Gallagher's star has only gotten brighter as new blues fans discover the artist's imposing talent.

Recommended Album: "Crest of a Wave: The Best of Rory Gallagher"

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Walter Trout

Walter Trout Performs In Berlin
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Strangely enough, blues-rock guitarist Walter Trout remains relatively unknown in the U.S., in spite of forging a respectable career in an American blues scene that has been dominated by fiery guitarslingers since Stevie Ray Vaughan broke out in the mid-1980s. It didn't help, perhaps, that Trout toiled for years in virtual obscurity while touring with British blues legend John Mayall, or later with his own bands, or that his first stateside album release didn't come until a decade into his solo career. Regardless, Trout is an underrated talent that has managed to mix a perfect measure of old-school rock and lightning blues in creating his unique individual sound.

Recommended Album: "The Outsider"