7 Of The Greatest Australian Guitarists

7 Of The Greatest Australian Guitarists



I can only imagine how quickly you clicked on this article.

This is a HIGHLY sensitive issue to guitarists and music fans, and there are some undeniable truths when it comes to guitarists from around the world in one list, but when you start messing with Australian guitarists, you open yourself up to the warriors who stand proud and true to defend their heroes.

You may not agree with what’s written here, or you might, or you might say "okay, yeah they should be on the list" but you’ll swear black and blue that others shouldn’t and that I’ve missed people. Of course, I will miss people (I only have so much space). There’s a squillion awesome guitarists in Australia, and I could probably name 20 that hardly anyone has heard of (and I will later), but the point here is to acknowledge these superstars and their contribution.

This isn’t a list in order either. This is a collection of superb players that have made Australia home, and made ROCK their forte.

Angus Young

Now it’d be crazy to start anywhere else due to Angus’ popularity the world over. He is one of our best rock guitarists, but is he the very best? I don’t think so. However, his sound is instantly recognisable. Legendary, influential, incredible when he plays live, iconic? Yes, yes, yes and yes. His schoolboy gimmick has lasted the entirety of AC/DC’s career, and he’s probably responsible for the sale of more Gibson SG guitars than anyone else, ever. 

Malcolm Young

We lost the very best rhythm guitarist IN THE WORLD on November 18th. Remember how I said there were some undeniable truths, this is one of them. A monster riff and songwriter, and a friend of mine said it best just the other day when he was highlighting just how good he was. “I only saw AC/DC once live, but my eyes were fixed on Malcolm the whole night. He literally did bang on an A chord for a good solid 15 minutes during "Let There Be Rock" while Angus went out into the crowd and solo'd. Didn't put in any licks, didn't do any variations on the rhythm. Awesome. I just tried taking the "15 minute Malcolm Young Challenge" (a challenge I just made up) to see how long I could slam an A chord before I started to lose focus and muck around and play solos. I think I lasted about 4 minutes.” – Mike Mills (Toehider). Also as Mike pointed out, he did actually play a solo once, check it out around the 2:40 mark. Malcolm Young, we salute you.

Ian Moss

Guitarist and songwriter for Cold Chisel who really needs no introduction even though I just wrote one. Mossy is a humble man, kinda quiet, at least he was when I interviewed him many years ago. Giving, but just spoke with quiet tones in humility as I fanboyed over his abilities as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer. Mossy has an incredible feel and I love listening to him play, maybe it’s a Stratocaster thing? Gilmour, Clapton, Moss and Stratocaster. (that list could go on and on btw). At any rate, Ian Moss most definitely rates as one of Australia’s most iconic and best rock guitarists of all time. Check this version of "Georgia" that he did way back in the day, enjoy the whole thing, or skip to the first solo around 3:55

Chris Cheney

The Living End frontman and axe-wielder has certainly left an indelible mark on the Australian rock scene with his showmanship and playing abilities. His is an eclectic mix of influence, which helped deliver his own unique and distinguishable style. Like Mossy, he’s a humble man when you talk about his playing, and the mere thought of being included in a story like this would have him shifting focus to others that he thinks are more deserving. Think about what The Living End did though, took a rockabilly style, added some punk, and straight ahead rock, and really generated their own genre. All thanks to the mad brain of Chris. Here’s a little jam that fans will recognise as a staple at many a TLE show that highlights his, and the band's talents.

Mark Lizotte (Diesel)

I’ve had to remind people on numerous occasions that what Diesel has done over the years should never be dismissed. Easily one of Australia’s best rock guitarists, but often overlooked when talking about ‘big guns’, and that’s just not on. It was his guitar work that attracted me to his music in the first place. He added great flair, feeling, and movements with his solos. Hugely underrated, as this cover of "Hey Joe" will show you.

Dave Leslie

Dave’s work with the Baby Animals simply cannot be overlooked. He’s been there since the inception and provided so many memorable riffs, solos, and grooves and is revered amongst peers as one of the best. So it’s all well and good for me to say he’s great, but when you have the admiration of other players around the country (and the world), you’d better listen. Some of his co-writing credits include "Rush You", "Early Warning", and "Under Your Skin". I remember hearing "Rush You" for the first time and ALWAYS air guitaring the little trills with a mate of mine in the car. Sick song, sick guitarist, and underrated like Diesel.

Rick Brewster

Probably most famous for being the most motionless lead guitarist of all time. Rick standing still, like a statue, was in response to lead players like Angus Young who is frantic and all over the shop like a mad man’s custard. “They all ran around the stage, leaping about. I tried it, felt monumentally awkward, and decided to do the exact opposite.” There’s just something about his playing that affected me as a child. The riffs were heavy, the solos so precise, even live, I fell in love with tearing around the lounge room with an old wooden tennis racquet from the hallway cupboard, especially to this cracking song.

OK , I’ve given you a head start here with 7 of the BEST AUSTRALIAN ROCK GUITARISTS of all time, and let’s face it, we could be here forever reeling off names. Honourable mentions to Orianthi, Ed Kuepper, John Butler, Rowland S. Howard, and Davey Lane. And if I were to delve into the world of metal freakshows for a moment, do yourself a favour (as our favourite guru would say) and check out the twin guitar attack of Mark Furtner and Tim Grose from LORD, Andy James, John Sanders (Doug Steele), James Ryan, Mike Mills, Sam Vallen (Caligula’s Horse), Rohan (I Built The Sky) and Stevic Mackay.

But I digress.. and this is where you come in. Who is AUSTRALIA’S BEST ROCK GUITARIST? I know you’ll be vocal about it, so get to it! If I had to go on the record, I’d go with Mossy. I love that man.

You'll find these tracks and more like them on our Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock playlist here....

- Higgo 




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