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The Top 20 Greatest Blues Artists of All Time

Rory Gallagher, Joe Bonamassa and Gary Moore

After thousands of votes were cast by Planet Rock listeners over recent weeks, we can now reveal the top 20 greatest blues artists of all time – as voted for by you!

Here at Planet Rock, our resident blues expert Bernard Doherty brings you the very best of new and classic blues every Saturday night at 10pm on Blues Power and every Sunday from midday on The Blues Power Sunday Brunch.

He thought he'd open up the question "who's the best blues artist ever?" to our listeners, and thousands of you voted for your choices!

1. Rory Gallagher

Picking up a massive 14% of the total votes, at number one was the late, great, Rory Gallagher! Rory's world-beating tone and natural feel for the blues have always placed him in high esteem amongst blues fans and Planet Rock listeners, not to mention fellow musicians; the likes of Slash, Gary Moore and Brian May all declared themselves influenced by Rory's playing.

Watch Rory and his legendary battered '61 Strat absolutely rip up the stage in this incredible live performance of 'Shadow Play':

2. Joe Bonamassa

At number two on our list, coming in with a hefty 10% of all the votes is a man who truly deserves the term 'virtuoso guitarist', Joe Bonamassa! A firm Planet Rock listener favourite, Joe first came to the attention of blues fans when he opened for B.B. King when he was just 12 years old. Since then, he's gone on to produce several Grammy award nominated albums, as well as consistently set the bar for live blues innovation.

Watch Joe belt out his live standard 'The Ballad of John Henry' at the Royal Albert Hall:

 3. Gary Moore

Former Planet Rock DJ Gary Moore left an incredible void in the rock world when he suddenly passed away in 2011. Thankfully, his unparalleled guitar work lives on, whether through his time with Thin Lizzy, his collaborations with the likes of Phil Lynott, Albert King and Greg Lake, or his solo material.

Watch Gary play one of his signature tunes, the heartfelt 'Still Got The Blues' live, below:

4. Stevie Ray Vaughan

From playing on one of David Bowie's most successful albums (Let's Dance), to riding high on the US national charts, in his short life Stevie Ray Vaughan seemed to simply blast his way through to the mainstream by way of the sheer speed and force of his playing. Compared frequently to his hero Jimi Hendrix, 30 years after his premature death in a helicopter crash SRV is still loved the world over for his distinctive Strat tone, and soulful style.

Watch a typically blinding live version of 'Texas Flood' here:

5. Walter Trout

A luminary of the staggeringly productive John Mayall's Bluesbreakers stable, Walter Trout has wowed crowds across the world for over 50 years, first as a sideman to the likes of John Lee Hooker, then as a member of Canned Heat, before eventually finding a successful career as a solo artist. In 2018 we were even lucky enough to get Walter on the lineup of our very own Planet Rockstock!

Watch Walter performing a stripped-back version of 'Walking In The Rain' in the Planet Rock studios:


The rest of the top 20 blues artists reads like a who's-who of legends. See the full list below:

6. Eric Clapton
7. B.B. King
8. Jimi Hendrix
9. Peter Green
10. Joanne Shaw Taylor
11. John Lee Hooker
12. Muddy Waters
13. Howlin' Wolf
14. Buddy Guy
15. Janis Joplin
16. Beth Hart
17. John Mayall
18. Jimmy Page
19. Robert Johnson
20. Johnny Winter

To hear the latest blues, alongside the classics, listen to Blues Power every Saturday at 10pm or Thursday at 9pm.

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