The Top 5 Guitar Descendants of Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix changed the music world with his guitar playing in a brief but prolific four years. In iconic stature, he rivals Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones as one of rock and roll’s most influential and mythical figures.  

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Seattle-born James Marshall Hendrix briefly served in the U.S. Army between 1961 and 1962 and backed R&B artists, including Little Richard and Wilson Pickett, before he began a groundbreaking solo career.

His familiar style appeared in 1964 recordings with The Isley Brothers and Don Covay. Frustrated by life as a sideman, Hendrix moved to New York City in 1966 but struggled to earn a living. Then he met Chas Chandler from The Animals, who became his manager. Within a few years, Hendrix released three studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967), and Electric Ladyland (1968), which combined jazz, rock, and blues into a psychedelic new sound.

The five guitarists below borrowed Hendrix’s distinct style and turned it into something uniquely theirs.

Mike McCready

Pearl Jam came from the early ’90s grunge scene, but they sounded closer to a 1970s arena rock band. While singer Eddie Vedder channeled his hero Pete Townshend, lead guitarist Mike McCready, equipped with a Fender Stratocaster, echoed Jimi Hendrix. McCready’s signature guitar solos on early hits like “Alive” and “Even Flow” are infused with pentatonic blues runs sounding like Hendrix’s cover of “Hey Joe.”

In “Yellow Ledbetter,” McCready mimics Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” Though the sound is closely associated with Hendrix, “Little Wing” was written in the R&B style of Curtis Mayfield, whose playing employed rhythmic fills as connective tissue between chords.

Through Pearl Jam’s turbulent times and creative experiments, McCready’s playing grounded the band.


Before Guns N’ Roses self-destructed, they made one of the greatest rock and roll debut albums of all time. Appetite for Destruction is raunchy and juvenile, and amidst the chaos, Slash burned some of the finest blues-rock solos ever captured on tape. There are so many to choose from, but the highlight has to be “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” where Slash moves from slippery harmonic minor melodies into a blistering, wah-wah solo with the spirit of Hendrix at Monterey.

Axl Rose toiled for years with a rotating band of characters before coming to his senses and inviting Slash and bassist Duff McKagan back to the band. (It is probably wishful thinking that the group’s coolest and most underrated member, Izzy Stradlin, will someday return.) Richard Fortus has played with the band since 2002, a brilliant and steady presence during the group’s wilderness years.

Regardless, if Slash had never played another lick beyond the 12 songs on Appetite for Destruction, he’d still be in the Hall of Fame.

John Frusciante

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fusion of Hendrix, P-Funk, and punk rock originated with founding guitarist Hillel Slovak. But after his death from a heroin overdose at 26, John Frusciante, then a teenage prodigy and fan of the band, took over. During the Frusciante years, the Chili Peppers became a stadium band due to his songwriting and melodic instincts. He took Slovak’s blueprint to a virtuosic level and echoed Hendrix on “Under the Bridge,” “Suck My Kiss,” and “Scar Tissue.”

Following the Chili Peppers’ masterpiece Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Frusciante quit the band. He nearly succumbed to his own addictions before returning for an extraordinary three-album run—Californication (1999), By the Way (2002), and Stadium Arcadium (2006)—before leaving again. He returned in December 2019.

Frusciante is especially good at the kind of exploratory improvisation and experimentation Hendrix made famous. And his vocals have become an indelible part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan covered Hendrix as well as anyone. His instrumental version of “Little Wing” has become an iconic rendition. On Vaughan’s cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” he reached for the furious state of the original with such intensity that the plausible explanation is a demonic ghost version of Hendrix had possessed his Texas soul.

Many praise Vaughan’s virtuosic guitar talents, but like Hendrix, he was also a great singer. According to producer Eddie Kramer, Hendrix hated his voice, but can you imagine anyone else singing those songs? The same can be said for Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Also, like Hendrix, the music world lost a legend too soon.


Prince released his debut album For You in 1978, making him Hendrix’s closest successor on this list. He resembled Hendrix on his album covers and cranked the guitars on “I’m Yours,” the last song on his debut. But Prince went full Hendrix on his masterpiece Purple Rain, most notably with the ferocious outro guitar solo on “Let’s Go Crazy.” Then there’s the title track and album closer, a sweaty live epic with Prince’s finest playing.

George Harrison once sang about his guitar gently weeping, but “Purple Rain” is what a weeping guitar really sounds like.

Probably better than anyone on this list, Prince could mirror Hendrix’s showmanship. Hendrix may have backed up Little Richard, but Prince distilled both into one person.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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