Adrian Belew Credit: Courtesy of Artist

When it comes to conversations about the best guitar players of all time, rock fans typically mention the likes of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix long before the thought of little old Adrian Belew crosses their minds. That’s a shame, because the unassuming shredder has one of the most mind-bending discographies in music history. Belew shared the stage and studio with icons such as Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads, frying minds with his next-level alien dexterity—and that was all before joining up with Robert Fripp in 1980 to front newly re-formed progressive-rock pioneers King Crimson. Belew-era Crimson produced some of the most frantic, boundary-pushing rock music the world has ever seen; the nine albums they released showcase Belew and Fripp’s complicated rhythms and crystalline guitar interplay, which provide a foundation for Belew’s idiosyncratic vocals. This legacy alone would be enough to satisfy the hungriest prog-head, but it really only scratches the surface of Belew’s credits, which also include contributions to albums by Nine Inch Nails, Paul Simon, and Mike Oldfield. On top of all of this are his 20 solo LPs, including the brand-new Pop-Sided, which features his signature wide-eyed take on shred-pop. Live, Belew pulls from all eras of his career with a heavy emphasis on his untouchable Crimson run.   v