Rolling Stone made a monkey of itself with its bogus list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

By Steve Newton

Google “100 greatest guitarists” these days and what shows up at the top is a total joke. It’s the high ‘n’ mighty Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, from November 2001.

And man does it suck.

But what do you expect from the same bozos who oversee the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

“We assembled a panel of top guitarists and other experts to rank their favorites and explain what separates the legends from everyone else,” reads the intro to the list, but they aren’t foolin’ anyone. What kind of “top guitarists” and “experts” would dare compile a list of the world’s best pickers and put the godlike Rory Gallagher way down at number 57? They dumped him two spots behind axe master John Lennon, fer chrissakes.

What the fvck!?

They made Jimi Hendrix number one–which I don’t have a problem with–but then they screwed up royally again when they put Jeff Beck at number 5, behind Eric Clapton (2), Jimmy Page (3), and Keith Richards (4). Come on! Keith Richards? I love Keef‘s playing as much as the next guy, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Beck. Nobody who’s still breathing does.

Speaking of dead guys, it was a nice surprise to see Duane Allman take the number 8 spot, but there’s no way Stevie Ray Vaughan (12) should have been kept out of the Top 10. Even though Quadrophenia is my fave album of all time, I believe Pete Townshend (10) should have been bumped to make way for Stevie.

Other amazing players who should have ranked much higher than they did were Peter Green (58), Johnny Winter (63), and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, who only snuck in at number 98.

Equally shocking is the number of deserving guitarists who got left off the Top 100 entirely, people like Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton, Michael Schenker, Alvin Lee, Warren Haynes, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Sonny LandrethRobin TrowerGary Moore, Rick DerringerSteve Howe, Eric Johnson, John Fogerty, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Jorma Kaukonen, Guthrie Govan, Brian Setzer, Tommy Emmanuel, Lenny Breau, and Hank Marvin.

And speaking as a proud Canadian, how about Jeff Healey?

The brainiacs at Rolling Stone could have easily made room for at least a few of those instead of wasting valuable space on the likes of Lou Reed (81), Joni Mitchell (75), Roger McGuinn (95), Bruce Springsteen (96), and Paul Simon (93).

Paul Simon’s a “greater” guitarist than Gary freakin’ Moore? Piss off, Rolling Stone.

On the bright side, I was happy to see that a few of my faves who sometimes fly under the guitar-hero radar got chosen, in particular Dick Dale (74), Link Wray (45), Duane Eddy (64), Hubert Sumlin (43), Mike Campbell (79), Otis Rush (53), and the mighty Mick Ronson (41).

To hear my uncut, one-on-one conversations with many of the great guitarists listed above, subscribe to my Patreon page. Interviews posted so far include:

Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
Robben Ford, 1993
Joe Satriani, 1990
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Leo Kottke, 2002
Link Wray, 1997
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come


17 thoughts on “Rolling Stone made a monkey of itself with its bogus list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

    1. “Where’s the full list?”
      You can’t be that dense.
      You hear about his preferences because it’s his website. It’s a place for him to voice his preferences, among other things. That’s one of it’s functions.
      Now run along and find someone else’s “Reply” box to bitch in.

  1. That list is from 2011 and Rolling Stone had nothing to do with the out come. The voters are as follows:

    Trey Anastasio, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket), James Burton, Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Gary Clark Jr., Billy Corgan, Steve Cropper, Dave Davies (The Kinks), Anthony DeCurtis (Contributing editor, Rolling Stone), Tom DeLonge (Blink-182), Rick Derringer, Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Melissa Etheridge, Don Felder (The Eagles), David Fricke (Senior writer, Rolling Stone), Peter Guralnick (Author), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes), Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers Band), Brian Hiatt (Senior writer, Rolling Stone), David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Lenny Kravitz, Robby Krieger (The Doors), Jon Landau (Manager), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Nils Lofgren (The E Street Band), Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe), Doug Martsch (Built to Spill), J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Brian May, Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Scotty Moore, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Tom Morello, Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Brendan O’Brien (Producer), Joe Perry, Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Robbie Robertson, Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes), Carlos Santana, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Marnie Stern, Stephen Stills, Andy Summers, Mick Taylor, Susan Tedeschi, Vieux Farka Touré, Derek Trucks, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Walsh, Nancy Wilson (Heart)

    Read more:

  2. o.k. robin trower is one of the all time greats no question–joe b. is a bit invented -paint by number=boring–but not nearly as fake as john mayer=yuppieblues

  3. WHERE is DON FELDER ranked in all of this? He should at LEAST be next to Joe Walsh? Not even a mention — WTF???

  4. Wait a sec…how about Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds? Maybe Rolling Stone should re-evaluate, or make it the Top 200 guitarists of all time and bump some of the elected back.

  5. I do not like country, but I respect great talent. Roy Clark would smoke 90% of this god awful list. Randy Rhodes at 36? WTF?

  6. I’m glad to see you get righteously pissed with all of those mentioned who should have been left out. Steve Miller is one I didn’t see you mention. “Mr. Guitar” was taught chords and progression by his dad’s good friend Les Paul for Chrissakes. He’s infinitely better than those you mentioned who should have not been on the list. All the early blues pickers were nice to see, but Satriani, Vai and Trower have many of them licked. Hendrix said Chicago’s Terry Kath was better than him, and it’s a crime Kath isn’t mentioned by ANYONE. It’s great to see you mention Healey (he’s frickin’ blind and plays better than at least 30 on the list) and Bonnamossa. I would have been ok with top 3 of Eddie Van Halen, Hendrix and then Slow Hand, Eric Clapton as far as virtuoso guitar gods go. Stevie Ray Vaughn is top 5 easily. Steve Lukather of Toto is the greatest session guitarist of all time and more prolific a song writer than just about anyone on this list. (He was the other guitarist and the producer of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, with Eddie Van Halen’s iconic solo getting the memories.) Yngwie Malmsteen was probably left out because no one could spell his name. Grunge was definitely slighted with Jerry Cantrell unmentioned, and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready’s absence. I could mention a few others, as everyone else is want to do, but at least the first five I’ve mentioned should be in it and ranked fairly high. Thanks.

  7. I remember very well this issue. It upset me. Are they waiting another 100 years for a new list? Anyways, what about other artists? Top 100 bass players? Drummers? Etc. Why just guitarist? 100 greatest song writers, would be nice.
    The covers have been sad for years. Not the Rollingstone I grew old with.I am sick of looking for my favorite guitarist to appear on the cover.
    I’m loosing respect… saddens me.

  8. I have followed rock guitarists for 40 years and the list is pretty much what one would expect. The same list as anyone else’s, with some lesser talents ranking much higher than they should (call it sacrilege, but I think Clapton is a much better songwriter and singer than a guitar player), great talents ranking lower than they should, and some of the best not at all.

    Seriously, what is the deal with Robin Trower? The man plays the notes as well or better than any on the list. What’s more, he understands the space BETWEEN the notes as well as anyone.

    Put the man on some GD lists, and in the HOF already.

  9. Read this list a few years ago and thought WTF? I’m a huge Slash fan and would put him in the top 10, but even if you don’t agree, who the hell would put him behind John Lennon as a guitar player? Since the Rolling Stone article did not limit itself to Rock, not having Roy Clark near the top is insane. I’m not a country fan, but send me a link to someone who has more talent than he does and I’ll send you $5. Seriously!

  10. Terry Kath not being on the list is a travesty. Glen Campbell was an amazing picker and deserves recognition, not to mention Roy Clark needing to be great the top. Mark Knopfler is ranked too far down the list.

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