Joe Satriani

The 1980s were a golden age for guitar heroes but even six-string slingers need a hero of their own. Enter Joe Satriani. More than a hero, Satriani was a mentor, setting an example of what could be done with the instrument and also serving as a teacher to such luminaries as Kirk Hammett, Charlie Hunter, Primus' Larry LaLonde, and Steve Vai. This alone makes Satriani a significant figure in the history of rock guitar, but when he launched a career as a recording artist in 1986, he performed the rare feat of crossing over to a wide audience via instrumental guitar music. His 1987 album Surfing with the Alien turned him into a star, kicking off a series of hit records, successful tours, and plum supporting gigs -- including backing Mick Jagger in the '80s, joining Deep Purple in the '90s, and playing with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony in the supergroup Chickenfoot -- that stretched well into the 21st century.