Famous Acoustic Guitarists of the 20th Century

There is no denying that electric guitars have a certain sexy allure. After all, crowds of screaming teenage fans can’t be wrong, can they? Don’t answer that. At any rate, the appeal of the electric guitar is such that it sometimes threatens to completely eclipse its acoustic cousin. It’s understandable, since the glitz and the glamour associated with rock and roll’s electric guitar are usually noticeably lacking with the more traditional instrument. Fortunately for us all, it’s highly unlikely that the acoustic guitar will ever completely give way to its flashy cousin, especially not as long as talented artists continue to produce wonderful music. Thanks to these individuals, just a few of whom are included below, the acoustic guitar continues to enjoy the popularity it has created since its inception.

If you weren’t familiar with the music of Johnny Cash (1932-2003) before the debut of Hollywood’s recent “Walk the Line,” you probably are now. The recently deceased Mr. Cash was a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and one of the most influential American musicians of the last century. His career lasted nearly fifty years, during which time he sold over 90 million albums. His music involved cross-genre success and his legacy includes the music of country, rock and roll, folk, blues and gospel. He continues to be one of history’s most famous acoustic guitar artists.

Another artist who continues to ensure the popularity of the acoustic guitar is country music’s Bonnie Raitt (1949-Present). Ms. Raitt’s music is primarily of the blues, blues rock and country genres, but like Mr. Cash before her, she has enjoyed crossover success and several of her songs have enjoyed general popularity. She has received a total of nine Grammy Awards (so far) and in 2000, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has occasionally been known as much for her leftist political views as for her music, but that has never outshone the quality of her artistry.

Sheryl Crow (1962-Present) has done a great deal for the image of the acoustic guitar over the past two decades. She first came to the attention of the general public in 1994 when her song “All I Wanna Do” became an unexpected smash hit (I still remember that video on MTV). Since then, she has had a steady 20+ years of success and has performed with such high profile artists as Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, and The Rolling Stones. Her genres include rock, country, pop rock, blues-rock and folk, although it is her pop rock music that tends to gain the most commercial success.

Jewel Kilcher (1974-Present), generally known simply by her first name, Jewel, has received three Grammy Aware nominations and has sold over 27 million albums worldwide. Her genres include pop, folk, pop rock, adult contemporary and country, and her music inevitably features her acoustic guitar skills. Although some would argue that her career has declined in recent years, the songs of her first albums remain as fixtures on the playlists of radio stations across the United States as well as other countries.