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.
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 Landreth, Robin Trower, Gary Moore, Rick Derringer, Steve 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).