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Happy International Lefthanders Day: The Five Best Southpaw Guitarists

Left-handed guitarist Tony Iommi (right), performing with Black Sabbath at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on July 25, 2013
Left-handed guitarist Tony Iommi (right), performing with Black Sabbath at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on July 25, 2013
Photo by Groovehouse

I have to admit something a little odd: I've always been a bit jealous of left-handed people. It seems like so many of our greatest minds in the arts and sciences are left-handed, and it seems like it must have some sort of connection to greatness. Sure, they typically die younger, but that's the price to pay for genius!

Well, today is their day. That's right, it's International Lefthanders Day, and I, of course, have to wish a happy holiday to the all-time great guitarists living and dead who played their guitars backwards and rocked our worlds.

I'm sure a lot of names are already coming to mind, but in case you never noticed these guys were holding their guitars the opposite way, here's the five greatest southpaw guitarists to grace our presence.

Tony Iommi You might have noticed when Black Sabbath stopped by Houston last month, and if you didn't there's a video above of the band playing "Snowblind," but the great master of that riff and oh so many others, Tony Iommi, is a left-hander. Not only did he have to cope with the loss of a few fingertips as a young guitarist, forcing him to customize his guitars around the injury, he also had to flip his strings around since left handed guitars weren't all that common in the '60s. Somehow he overcame it all to become one of the best of all time.

Jimi Hendrix The greatest of all time in a lot of people's books, Hendrix also had to flip his strings to accommodate being left-handed. He actually learned to play right handed as well however, because his father believed like many in less enlightened times that being left handed was a sign of the devil.

Paul McCartney Paul is known more for playing bass left-handed, but he does it all that way, including guitar, mandolin, and ukelele. He's not the only former Beatle who plays left-handed, though. Oddly enough Ringo Starr is right-handed, but plays the drums left-handed.

 

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Current Bosnian Rainbows guitarist and mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, formerly of Mars Volta and At the Drive-In, is so extremely left-handed that he lives in a left-handed world. In an interview a few years ago, he commented, "In my reality it's like 'oh my god, all these other guitars are backwards and mine is the only one that's correct!' It's just a matter of perspective. It seems so normal to me that all guitars should be left-handed!" Now that's left-field thinking.

Kurt Cobain Though his skill as a guitarist may be debatable, and he certainly never played anything complex, Kurt Cobain was definitely one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Regardless of his technical abilities, he wrote some of the most iconic riffs ever -- and he did it all left handed, too.

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