Friday, November 25, 2011

Rock Music's Greatest Guitarists

I'm departing from my usual material with this post, but I found this interesting. Rolling Stone has put out a list of the 100 greatest rock guitarists of all time. Of course, any kind of list like this is usually a good way to start an argument, because each of us has our own likes and dislikes and that will color how we view talented people (and there's no doubt there have been many talented rock guitarists).

They picked Jimi Hendrix as the best of all time, and I have to agree with that. There's a saying that I heard a few years ago (can't remember who said it) -- that Les Paul invented the electric guitar, but Jimi Hendrix showed the world how to play it. Jimi was a shy person who didn't give many interviews, but let his guitar do most of his talking for him. And watching him play, it seemed like his guitar was more of a body part rather than a musical instrument. He had complete mastery of it. He died far too young, but fortunately he left us an incredibly impressive body of work -- and I never tire of listening to it.

Here is the Rolling Stone top ten:
1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Duane Allman
3. B.B. King
4. Eric Clapton
5. Robert Johnson
6. Chuck Berry
7. Stevie Ray Vaughn
8. Ry Cooder
9. Jimmy Page
10. Keith Richards

That's an impressive list of players, and it's hard to argue with those choices -- but I will. Here's the top ten list I would have composed:

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Jimmy Page
3. Eric Clapton
4. Carlos Santana
5. Stevie Ray Vaughan
6. Jeff Beck
7. B.B. King
8. Robert Johnson
9. Freddie King
10. Buddy Guy

There may be some that think such blues guitarists as B.B. King, Robert Johnson, and Buddy Guy don't belong on a list of great rock guitarists. I disagree. A huge part of rock music sprang directly from the blues, and these guitarists had a huge effect on rock musicians who came later. Their greatness cannot be denied, nor their contribution to rock music.

What do you think? How would your list compare to that of Rolling Stone (or mine)? Feel free to leave your own top ten in the comment section (but please don't do it anonymously or it won't be posted). And if you're interested in Rolling Stone's top 100, you can find that here.


  1. Actually I would have put BB King at the top, but then they are all number 1 in my book

  2. This is the kind of thing where we could all come up with a different list, and none of us would be wrong. Having said that, I'm with Yellowdog Granny - I like your list better than RS'.

    Either way, I'd add Mark Knopfler to the list, but damned if I know who I'd drop from either top 10 to make room for him.

  3. That is true - many different combinations could be made and good justifications made for all of them. That's what makes something like this fun. However, I still think Jimi should be at the top of amy list.

  4. This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I didn't knew anything about Stevie Ray Vaughan, until I recently saw a tribute concert in The Yale, one of Vancover's Blues clubs. I think he deserves at least third place. Great job kicking Duane Allman out of the list. He is way too over-appreciated.

  5. I absolutely love the Allman Brothers Band, but I just can't see Duane in the top ten greatest guitarists.

    I would have liked to include Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) in the top ten, but I couldn't remove any of those I had put in there. I guess he would be #11 for me.

  6. There is no such thing as the best. If you love music and you are older than 15 then it is silly to classify one player better than another. Each was unique in their own way and offered something unique and creative in their own way. I mean, who is to say that Eddie Van Halen was "worse" than Pete Townsend in terms of guitar playing? I mean, Pete was a great rhythm player but anyone with ears knows that Eddie blows him away in terms of technique and EVH is number 70! But what is the point of stating that argument as adults? Just love the music and screw putting them in any order. EVH rules AND Pete Townsend rules. They both created great music that we can enjoy again and again. It should be left at that. IMHO


ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. And neither will racist,homophobic, or misogynistic comments. I do not mind if you disagree, but make your case in a decent manner.