Best Guitarists? Don’t Forget Keaggy

Often music “experts” and talking heads compile their lists of “the best” whatever.  A popular list is the best guitarists of all time. The usual suspects show up… Hendrix, Clapton, Page, but one name is often overlooked… Keaggy.

[mp3com-artist]Phil Keaggy[/mp3com-artist] has long been one of my favorite artists. His mastery of guitar and songwriting has been both inspiring to me and has provided hours of listening enjoyment. I have sat mesmerized for hours in his concerts as he weaved a tapestry of sound. His “finger-style” playing was recognized three years in a row by readers of Guitar Player Magazine, naming him among the top players of that style in the world.

However, many of you may have never heard his name. The reason that may be is that Keaggy has worked in the world of Christian music since the 1970’s. He has released over 50 albums, been awarded the Dove Award seven times and has twice been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album.

The Youngstown native first came to light in the early 1970’s  as part of the band [mp3com-artist]Glass Harp[/mp3com-artist], but left the band after three albums and went solo after becoming a born-again Christian.  His first solo album was 1973’s “What A Day.”

In addition to his performing, Keaggy has been a highly sought studio musician (appearing on albums for Michael W. Smith, P.O.D, Phil Maderia and many others) and producer. His style has ranged from hard-driving rock to orchestrated instrumental pieces. The amazing thing about him is  he plays so beautifully while having only half a middle finger on his picking hand. An accident as a child took the top half of the digit, but the injury never held him back.

Keaggy can also add the honor of having his own urban legend to his credentials. There is a legend that Hendrix and/or Clapton (it changes depending on who’s telling it) was asked how it felt to be the world’s best guitar player. They allegedly said “ask Phil Keaggy.” It’s highly unlikely this ever happened, but it is often repeated. Below I have posted some video from Keaggy’s early career and more recent footage. How do you think he stacks up to the guitar legends?

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