Rolling Stone screwed up with its 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

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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).

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11 responses to “Rolling Stone screwed up with its 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

    • “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: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-guitarists-20111123#ixzz3fBnExFlI

  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.

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