Compared to right-handed musicians, artists having the left as their dominant hand is a rare breed. In the world of music, however, left-handed guitarists stand out even more than usual. The following list includes 25 of some of the most famous left-handed musicians!
Kurt Cobain, the late frontman of Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, and Tommy Iommi of Black Sabbath are some of the most famous left-handed musicians in the history of music.
Apart from him, there are other impressive left-handed musicians that have dominated the music industry as well.
Let’s find out who they are!
Kurt Cobain was right-handed, but learned to play guitar left-handed because his favorite guitar heroes were all lefties. pic.twitter.com/iIkiv28c11
— Gabriel Haleyi (@GabShoots) December 16, 2020
1. Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain was a left-handed guitarist and singer-songwriter who led the grunge movement. He is considered one of the most influential guitarists in modern music and the guitar world.
Kurt Cobain formed Nirvana with Krist Novoselic in Aberdeen, Washington in 1987, serving as lead vocalist and guitarist.
The band would go on to win multiple awards and attain international success with their single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, reaching number four on Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The Nirvana frontman married Courtney Love in 1992; they divorced in 1994 due to his addiction issues, which led to him committing suicide at age 27.
Together with Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain easily conquered the Seattle-grunge music scene.
So a lot of people wondered whether they were rivals on and off the camera or if they were actually friends. Check this recent article I wrote to find out!
Just click that link to read it on my site.
2. Tony Iommi
Tony Iommi is a British musician and songwriter. He is best known as one of the founding members of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, with whom he has been playing since their first album in 1970.
He is also known for his role in the making of the guitar sound heard on many of Black Sabbath’s recordings, which features low tunings and heavy distortion.
Iommi was left-handed but was forced to learn to play as a right-handed guitarist at school because there was no left-handed guitar available at that time. Thus, he can be a right-handed player as well.
But later on, he ended up using his legendary Gibson SG in his live shows. Though his career started out earlier, Iommi became famous when he joined Black Sabbath and the rest, as they say, is history.
To top that off, he’s even handicapped! He lost his right middle and ring finger in an accident.
3. Albert King
Albert King was a renowned guitarist and singer.
Albert’s style of playing the guitar was unique; he used his left hand to play the rhythm while his right hand played lead notes with no pick-up or slide technique required. This style allowed him to play fast licks that other musicians couldn’t copy because they didn’t know how to do it themselves!
Albert King died from coronary artery disease at age 68 but is remembered for being one of the great blues players who paved the way for future generations.
4. Dick Dale
If you’re a lefty and you play guitar, chances are you’ve heard of Dick Dale, one of the best lefty players out there. This famous American guitarist is known for his fast playing and use of the tremolo arm (a device that produces a pulsating effect).
He was also one of the first artists to create surf rock, which came about in the early 1960s and became popular through his song “Miserlou”.
He moved out west after graduating from high school, where he started playing gigs at various restaurants around town—but it wasn’t until 1957 that he got noticed for his unique style of playing after appearing on television shows.
— ⚛𝕊𝕥𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕝𝕪 𝕎𝕒𝕪𝕟𝕖 𝕄𝕒𝕟𝕠𝕣⚛️#HugeStar🧠 (@SWManor) August 13, 2018
5. David Bowie
You might think that the world’s most famous left-handed guitarist would be a part of the rock and roll scene, but David Bowie is actually a bit more diverse than that.
He was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and actor.
His career spanned five decades; he was known as an innovator who helped shape escapism in popular music throughout his life.
Bowie began performing with several bands during the 1960s before releasing his first album as well as achieving worldwide fame in 1972 with “Space Oddity”.
As with a few others on this list, Bowie usually chose to play right-handed when on stage, leading to confusion about whether he was a rightie or a leftie.
6. Phil Collins
Phil Collins is a British musician, singer, and songwriter who is best known for his work as the drummer and lead singer of the rock band Genesis and as a solo artist.
He has also worked with other popular artists such as Eric Clapton, Sting, Elton John, and David Bowie.
Since Phil plays left-handed instruments, it’s safe to assume that this was an early decision on his part. It was likely influenced by all of these artists being left-handed as well (especially considering they were some of his biggest inspirations).
If you’re curious about how rare left-handed guitarists are, you should definitely take a look at a recent article I published!
7. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is one of the most famous lefties in history.
He is known for his virtuoso sound and innovative styles, as well as his deeply personal lyrics.
In addition to being a great guitarist, he has also been a prolific songwriter and producer. As a result, he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide!
In fact, he was named by the Rolling Stone Magazine as “The Greatest Guitarist Ever” in 2003. But despite being left-handed, like Billy Corgan and David Bowie, he prefers to actually play the guitar right-handed.
8. Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler is a left-handed guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the lead guitarist, lead singer, and songwriter for the British band Dire Straits.
He also has a successful solo career that includes many hit albums and singles.
He began playing guitar at age 13 after his sister bought him one from an army surplus store in London’s Notting Hill Gate neighborhood while they were living there during their parents’ divorce.
Knopfler later told Q magazine that this purchase “was probably more significant than me picking up any kind of musical instrument.”
— Jazz Sketches (@JazzSketches) February 2, 2023
9. Otis Rush
Otis Rush is a left-handed guitarist, singer, songwriter, and bandleader who has been called the “Father of Chicago Blues”.
He was born Otis Rush in Chicago, Illinois, USA. His birth name is Otis Rush, but he has also gone by the nicknames Big O and Mr. Cool (among others).
He learned to play guitar after being inspired by seeing Muddy Waters perform live at age twelve. He played a left-handed guitar with the low E string at the bottom.
In 1953, he moved to Chicago where he worked odd jobs while developing his musical talent with other musicians such as Magic Sam, Johnny Littlejohn, and Willie Dixon.
10. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix is one of the greatest left-handed guitarists of all time.
He’s known for his innovative playing style, use of effect pedals, and unique sound that helped define what rock music would become.
Jimi played his right-handed guitar upside down and backward because he was left-handed, which ended up being a good thing for his career.
This made it easier for him to play chords with his left hand and solo with his right hand since they were reversed on the neck compared to regular right-handed models. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, check out this recent article from my site.
And if you’re wondering what made this legendary icon so good at what he does, this recent article breaks it down for you!
11. Paul McCartney
If you’re a lefty, chances are you’ve heard of Sir Paul McCartney.
He is a British musician who was born in Liverpool and has gone on to become one of the most successful musicians in music history.
He was a member of The Beatles, which you probably already knew if you’re reading this article, but he also went solo after their breakup and has had many other music projects since then.
Nevertheless, he has proven himself as one of the greatest guitarists of all time!
Paul McCartney is known as both a singer and songwriter as well as an accomplished bass guitarist who helped form one of the best-selling bands in history: The Beatles.
12. Paul Simon
Paul Simon is one of the most famous lefty musicians around. And lucky for me, he lives with his wife Edie Brickell, in the same small town I live in (Wimberley, Texas outside of Austin).
The singer-songwriter has written and recorded some of the most influential music of his generation, including classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “The Sound of Silence”.
Simon’s career began when he co-founded the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel with fellow singer Art Garfunkel in 1957; together, they started writing songs that would become some of their most popular work in later years.
After a short break from music after college graduation, Paul went on to release several solo albums throughout the 1970s before reuniting with Art for another tour.
“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus has been the #1 song in the USA for over 15 weeks, and might end up as the biggest debut single of all time. Billy Ray used his left-handed LTD TL-6 on a live version of the song at the BET Awards. https://t.co/0XpspH6sfi pic.twitter.com/xISXm4Nld9
— ESP Guitars (@ESPGuitarsUSA) July 19, 2019
13. Billy Ray Cyrus
Billy Ray Cyrus is a country singer and actor. He was born in 1961 and is the father of Miley Cyrus.
His first hit was “Achy Breaky Heart” in 1992, which led to several other songs such as “Some Gave All”, “The Wreck of the RMS Titanic”, and more.
Billy Ray has also starred in TV shows like Doc, Ruby & The Rockits, and Hannah Montana.
Billy Ray plays guitar left-handed, with his right hand on the fretboard (like many other musicians on this list).
14. Paul Gray
Paul Gray, the bassist of Slipknot, was a left-handed musician. He played with the band from 1995 to 2010 and passed away in 2010 due to an overdose.
Paul Gray was known for his low-end style of playing and the unique tone of his instruments which were often tuned down one whole step or even more.
This allowed him to have a lower sound than most other bassists. He was also able to play double time with ease at times during live shows, which made it seem as if he had three hands instead of just two!
15. BB King
BB King is a left-handed guitarist who learned to play the guitar when he was around twelve years old.
He would go on to become one of the most famous musicians in history, winning multiple awards and appearing on stage with many famous people.
His real name is Riley B. King, and he is from Mississippi.
BB King has been called the “King of Blues” because of his incredible talent at playing blues songs on guitar, as well as singing them with such emotion that you can feel his pain through your speakers!
16. Duane Allman
Duane Allman is a famous left-handed guitarist and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.
He played guitar in the band with his brother, Gregg, and he’s credited with creating their unique sound that went on to influence generations of musicians.
As a guitarist, Duane Allman was known for his slide guitar playing—a style he developed in his early days while growing up with his father, who had been an accomplished musician himself.
After performing in several bands throughout high school and college, he formed the Allman Brothers with his brother Gregg in 1969; this band would go on to become one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most influential groups (and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995).
Happy 71 birthday to the amazing Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry! pic.twitter.com/Om9RaOSKZX
— Rock and Roll Garage (@rocknrollgarag1) September 10, 2021
17. Joe Perry
Joe Perry is a left-handed guitarist and songwriter best known as the lead guitarist, backing vocalist, and one of the principal songwriters in Aerosmith.
That being said, at a young age, he taught himself to play right-handed and often does. Many of his guitars are left-handed guitars he strings right-handed!
He has been a member of Aerosmith since 1970, with his musical career having begun in 1966 when he joined The Jam Band.
Perry’s first major exposure came with Joe Perry Project, which released two albums between 1977-1978. He rejoined Aerosmith shortly thereafter and has remained there ever since, except for one break from 1991–1993.
18. Mdou Moctar
Mdou Moctar is the real deal.
An acoustic guitarist who has made his name playing in Mali’s desert, he started out as a street performer but has since become one of Africa’s biggest musical names.
Mdou Moctar is known for his fusion of traditional Malian music with modern rock and jazz influences, which have earned him comparisons to guitarist Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis in the past.
He also plays left-handed, which gives him a distinctive sound that stands out from other right-handed people.
19. Billy Corgan
Billy Corgan is an American musician, producer, songwriter, and television personality.
He is best known as the lead singer, primary songwriter, guitarist, and sole permanent member of the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins.
Corgan has been playing guitar left-handed for as long as he can remember; however, he wrote right-handed until his late teens when he adopted a more left-handed way of writing due to being more comfortable with it as well as having better control.
There were speculations that he may even be one of the few ambidextrous people.
Since then, he went on to be one of the most highly regarded left-handed musicians in the music world but often plays right-handed.
20. Elliot Easton
Elliot Easton is known for playing guitar with The Cars, but he’s also a respected solo artist.
He’s been playing since he was 11 years old and is left-handed. He plays guitars and basses on all of their albums, as well as keyboards on several songs.
His most famous lineup includes Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” live version, which was recorded at a concert in 1980 where Elliot played lead guitar while singing backup vocals to Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
21. Peter Green
Peter Green is a British blues guitarist who made his name with Fleetwood Mac, and he went on to become one of its most influential members.
He was born in London, England, and was left-handed; he played a Gibson Les Paul Custom electric guitar.
He’s most famous for his live performances, which had an improvisational element that’s rarely heard from other blues players.
As such, he’s often regarded as one of the first great guitarists to break out of the tradition of simply playing cover songs at high speed.
22. Tim Armstrong
Tim Armstrong is a legend in the punk rock community.
He has been in Rancid since 1989 and was a member of Operation Ivy before that. He is also left-handed, so you can see why he would be considered one of the most famous left-handed guitarists ever.
Tim’s first band was called Outline, but he started getting more recognition when he started working with Matt Freeman (who eventually became his bandmate in Rancid).
While they only recorded two albums together, they were very successful and are still regarded as some of the best punk albums ever made today!
— Jan Evans (@LadyMaryRising) July 10, 2019
23. Ringo Starr
Born in Liverpool, England, Ringo Starr is best known as the drummer of The Beatles.
He was a member of the band from 1962 until they broke up in 1970. Since then, he has been a solo artist and a member of several bands, including his own band called All-Starr Band (which included Billy Preston).
In 2015 he was named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 greatest drummers. Ringo isn’t just a rock legend; he’s also a left-handed star! He plays with a right-handed drum kit.
Once you watch Ringo perform, you’ll never forget how he smashes his bass and snare drum like there’s no tomorrow!
24. Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer-songwriter known for her guitar-playing style and lyrical content.
Her song “Avant Gardener” was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 58th Grammy Awards in 2016, which she won.
In 2018 she won her second Grammy for Best Music Video for her song “Nameless, Faceless” with Kurt Vile.
Courtney Barnett uses a left-handed Fender Telecaster Deluxe electric guitar when performing live on stage. Although she might be able to play a right-handed Fender Stratocaster easily, she still prefers using a left-handed model.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the most famous left-handed guitarist?
Left-handed guitarists have a long history of changing the world and influencing others with their unique playing style, but who is truly the most famous of all?
The late Kurt Cobain tops this list by a landslide. His short career changed the music industry permanently, and his use of left-handed guitars helped shape his signature sound.
He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, proving that he is one of the greatest musicians to ever pick up an instrument.
That being said, Hendrix is undoubtedly the best and most talented left-handed guitar player of all time.
Was Prince left- or right-handed?
Prince was right-handed, but he played guitar left-handed. This is the major reason his style was so unique, and he’s one of the most famous left-handed musicians of all time.
Prince’s unique guitar-playing style can be traced back to his childhood—when he first started playing music, his mother told him that if he wanted to play guitar, he would have to be left-handed.
He wasn’t a big fan at first and didn’t think about learning until after a few years.
DID YOU KNOW?
Left-handed Gaga plays a mean right-handed guitar🎸
Left-handed Bowie also played right-handed guitar🎸
Left-handed Hendrix played right-handed guitar left-handed with strings tuned right-handed, ie upside-down🙃🎸#LadyGaga #DavidBowie #JimiHendrix #Chromatica🏆✔️ pic.twitter.com/yXbllwuclR
— 🎩LORD GAGA IFB ALL (@NlHILIST) December 5, 2020
Is Lady Gaga left-handed?
Lady Gaga is definitely a left-handed musician.
She has been spotted writing with her left hand, and she even posted a picture on Twitter of her writing upside down with her left hand.
Her song “Poker Face” is also written from a left-handed perspective (the way she would play it on the guitar).
There are many left-handed musicians out there, but these 25 are some of the most famous.
They’re not just well known because they’re good at what they do but also because they’ve made a name for themselves as left-handed guitar players and beyond. They performed equally well—if not even better—with their right-handed counterparts.
They’ve made their mark on the world of music with performances and works that have shaped culture for decades.
In the end, we can all agree that left-handed people are awesome. They’re not just talented—they also have some of the most incredible stories behind their names.