Rolling Stone can piss right off: here’s the 100 Greatest Guitarists (that I’ve interviewed) and 50 that I haven’t (yet)

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 so-called finest, posted from 2015.

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.

It was great 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 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).

Here’s my list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists (that I’ve interviewed), followed by the 50 greatest ones I wished I had interviewed. Please keep in mind that I’m not a jazz expert, so I didn’t include obvious picks like Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Lenny Breau, and Django Reinhardt. I’m a rock and blues guy, so that’s what my lists reflect.

Bring on the nasty, mean-spirited comments!


Jeff Beck

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Danny Gatton

Albert King

Buddy Guy

Carlos Santana

B.B. King

Roy Buchanan

Dickey Betts

10 Link Wray

11 Mick Ronson

12 Gary Moore

13 Derek Trucks

14 J.J. Cale

15 Tommy Emmanuel

16 Albert Collins

17 Warren Haynes

18 Billy Gibbons

19 David Gilmour

20 Tony Iommi

21 Joe Satriani

22 Slash

23 Ronnie Montrose

24 Robin Trower

25 Michael Schenker

26 Uli Jon Roth

27 Brian May

28 Leslie West

29 Alex Lifeson

30 Eric Johnson

31 Sonny Landreth

32 Steve Vai

33 Joe Bonamassa

34 Joe Perry

35 Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser

36 Yngwie Malmsteen

37 Guthrie Govan

38 Steve Morse

39 Mike Campbell

40 Dick Dale

41 Rick Derringer

42 Johnny Ramone

43 Otis Rush

44 Jennifer Batten

45 Ronnie Earl

46 Robben Ford

47 Peter Frampton

48 Jeff Healey

49 Allan Holdsworth

50 Steve Howe

51 Albert Lee

52 Jake E. Lee

53 Tony MacAlpine

54 Doyle Bramhall II

55 Marty Friedman

56 Paul Gilbert

57 Steve Hackett

58 Robert Randolph

59 Tosin Abasi

60 Gary Rossington

61 Blues Saraceno

62 Wayne Kramer

63 Ace Frehley

64 Jonny Lang

65 Vivian Campbell

66 “Fast” Eddie Clarke

67 Walter Trout

68 Elliot Easton

69 Robert Cray

70 John Petrucci

71 Steve Stevens

72 John Sykes

73 Tommy Tedesco

74 Andy Powell

75 Luther Dickinson

76 “Poison” Ivy Rorschach

77 Will Bernard

78 Rick Nielsen

79 Rick Richards

80 Malcolm Young

81 Kim Simmonds

82 Don Wilson

83 Zakk Wylde

84 Mike McCready

85 Kenny Wayne Shepherd

86 Dave Mustaine

87 Glenn Tipton

88 Steve Clark

89 Jerry Cantrell

90 Marc Bonilla

91 Don Ross

92 Jimmy Thackery

93 Kim Mitchell

94 J. Mascis

95 Dave Murray

96 Leo Kottke

97 Dave Alvin

98 Buddy Cage

99 Randy Bachman

100 Jack Semple



1 Jimi Hendrix

2 Rory Gallagher

3 Johnny Winter

4 Duane Allman

5 Eddie Van Halen

6 Jimmy Page

7 Keith Richards

8 Peter Green

9 Eric Clapton

10 Randy Rhoads

11 Chuck Berry

12 Freddy King

13 Ritchie Blackmore

14 Steve Cropper

15 Mike Bloomfield

16 Angus Young

17 Neil Young

18 Prince

19 Alvin Lee

20 Frank Zappa

21 John McLaughlin

22 Ry Cooder

23 Duane Eddy

24 George Harrison

25 Pete Townshend

26 Elmore James

27 Robert Johnson

28 Mark Knopfler

29 Paul Kossoff

30 Scotty Moore

31 Jerry Garcia

32 Ronnie Wood

33 Terry Kath

34 Jorma Kaukonen

35 Bill Nelson

36 T-Bone Walker

37 Hank Marvin

38 Steve Lukather

39 Jan Akkerman

40 Tommy Bolin

41 Lonnie Mack

42 Brian Setzer

43 Hubert Sumlin

44 Mick Taylor

45 Dimebag Darrell

46 Joe Walsh

47 Martin Barre

48 Robbie Robertson

49 Kirk Hammett

50 James Burton

DISCLAIMER: I do realize that there are no “greatest guitarists”. I mean, the whole idea of ranking musicians according to who’s “best” is idiotic. But still, it’s fun readin’ this shit, right?

Those who would rather hear my interviews with the world’s greatest guitarists than read them can subscribe to my Patreon page and eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with such fine pickers as:

Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman of the Guess Who, 2001
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
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
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Leo Kottke, 2002
Link Wray, 1997
Buddy Guy, 1991
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
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
Malcolm Young of AC/DC, 1983
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 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

74 thoughts on “Rolling Stone can piss right off: here’s the 100 Greatest Guitarists (that I’ve interviewed) and 50 that I haven’t (yet)

    1. I just think from a players perspective….. Technically, and all around talent ” but not necessarily well known among non players….. Tommy Emmanuel is probably the best on the planet by miles and miles and miles He hasn’t written iconic music like the rest on the list, but literally has to be The best player around….so says Eric Clapton anyway. I agree….he will blow your mind.

  1. So I’m no expert but are you kidding me?! I understand it may not be your genre, but no mention at all of Glen Campbell?! Roy Clark?! Look up the Wrecking Crew! A lot of the guitarist on both of these lists of greats idolized these guys. Alice Cooper said that Eddie Van Halen asked him if he could get a lesson from Glen! I think you and Rolling Stone need to broaden you repertoires a bit.

  2. If Randy Bachman could make it a 99, so could Kurt Winter. But, hey, I like the lists and would also add that Chet Atkins and Les Paul should be on any top 30 list!!!

  3. Jan Ackermann at 39, at one time considered the best guitarist in the world? Craig Chaquico is still alive, you could go and interview him tomorrow and put him on the list where he belongs!!!

  4. This list sucks too. Is this a popularity contest or actually a great guitar player list. John Petrucci at about 70 .. yeah right. Eric Clapton sucks .. Derek Trucks above Paul Gilbert ?
    Let me give you a scenario.pick two guitarist give them the others songs… lock them in a room and whoever came out first by learning the other guys stuff correctly wins.. Do you think any of the top 10 could hang with anyone like Gurthie Govan or Steve Morse?… no….
    Where on earth is Greg Howe on this list or Frank Gambale.

  5. You are right about these type of lists not meaning much but solid list still the same, no spot for Glen Campbell or Nils Lofgren?

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