Best guitarists in rock n' roll

Just what the name says.
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MK
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Best guitarists in rock n' roll

Postby MK » Tue Aug 26, 2003 5:31 pm

Yeah, I bring this up 'cuz of Rolling Stone, but it's a pretty popular poll/list to conduct. Everyone's done it, the best being Mojo. I believe I'm thinking of Mojo's; it was a great list because it listed an excellent example of each person's guitar work. So in that spirit, how about posting a list? Preferably with rankings, keeping it to 10 or 15 picks, but in the spirit of Sight & Sound, a classy film periodical if you haven't read it, you can make your own rules if you must.

1. Jimi Hendrix - everyone's pick, but c'mon, who else is better?
(Recommended: His big 3 recordings with the original Exprience)
2. Django Reinhardt (JSP's first box set)
3. Pete Townshend (Live at Leeds)
4. Richard Thompson (Watching The Dark)
5. Chuck Berry (The Chess Box)
6. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin II, IV, and Houses of the Holy)
7. Duane Allman (The Fillmore Concerts)
8. Steve Cropper (The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968)
9. Eric Clapton (John Mayall & the Blues Breakers w/EC, Layla)
10. B. B. King (Live at the Regal)
11. Keith Richards (Exile on Main Street)
12. Jeff Beck (Roger the Engineer)
13. Mike Bloomfield (Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited)
14. Charlie Christian (Genius of Electric Guitar)
15. Robbie Robertson (1966 Tour with Dylan, The Band, Rock of Ages)

Honorable mention: George Harrison. The Beatles are my all-time favorite, and sometimes George gets ragged too much (Robert Christgau and Tim Riley, though moreso with Christgau), so I feel like I have to mention him. I just love how he evolved over time, experimenting with new instruments, sounds, and textures, and how he developed a gorgeous, eloquent slide technique that isn't anything like traditional blues playing. As many said when he passed away, his playing was never indulgent, always in the service of the song.

britre
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Postby britre » Tue Aug 26, 2003 10:27 pm

Ok. I do not see the "real" best guitarists. Lets talk "Andre Segovia", Lets talk "Les Paul", lets talk "Leo Kottke", "Steve Miller", "Bo Diddley" these "best of" lists get worse every year because most of the people who make em' are too dumb or un cultured to know who *really* is good, and who was a fad created by a time in history (hendrix, page, clapton), but I will put a shout out for Jeff Beck. Definitely a progressive artist.

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MK
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Postby MK » Wed Aug 27, 2003 3:29 pm

Geez, man, you don't have to be a snob about it. Just put your own 15 together and post it.

First of all, I'm not that well-versed in classical guitar (is too dum, I suppose), so I'm not going to put Segovia on my list even though I've heard only a few recordings he's done that weren't even his best.

Second, these lists are very subjective. This isn't sports where you have the benefit of statistics to make a definitive case. Everything in music and art is highly subjective.

Yes, on a technical level, Steve Miller is a good guitarist, but personally, I find him a little uninspired. Catchy, professional, good, but not great. Technical proficiency isn't all there is to music. Mariah Carey may be capable of greater vocal range than Billie Holiday, but she still doesn't hold a candle to Billie Holiday.

Leo Kottke has been recommended to me a lot, but I haven't bought any of his albums yet. I plan to, though.

Bo Diddley is amazing, anyone with the Chess Box will know that. If I picked a top 20, I'd probably pick him.

Be careful about dismissing picks as "fads." I can understand people hating Clapton because he's done a lot of terrible work, but on the strength of his best work, I'd include him. A bit derivative, stealing lines from his heroes like Albert and Freddie King, etc., but by Layla, his playing became much more natural, more original, less studied, and far more impassioned than before.

Hendrix and Page, well, if you don't like them, I doubt I can do anything to change that.

britre
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Postby britre » Wed Aug 27, 2003 4:47 pm

Sounds like lack of knowledge strikes again :roll:

But on a less sarcastic note, Clapton I compare to Gilmour or Jimmy Page. While very good and emotional, they are imitators of what preceded them. Hendrix was a man who did very inovative things with electronics no one else was bold enough to do which may make him a innovator, but not nessesarily a top notch guitarist. Mike Oldfield also did things with guitars and other things no one else has or had done, yet he is in no ones top guitarist lists.

Pete Townsend, had a great style and show presense greatly imitated, hi timing is impecable and he does make my great guitarist list everytime.

The guitarist I cited esspecially Les Paul invented guitar work as it is today. Those are innnovators whom if you give them a box with strings and frets will still make amazing music. Take away Hendrix's pedals and effects, what do you have? Clapton even has this malady most times, or the drugs helped instead.

We also should not forget George Harrison ever because without him, there is no Clapton, and without Early guitarists such as Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley and others including BB King, there would be no George Harrison. We owe alot to those early pioneers and someone should be bright enough to make a real top ten list that doesn't include pop artists that are pop icons, don't you agree?

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MK
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Postby MK » Wed Aug 27, 2003 7:41 pm

You know, I just came across this old post and I have to say one thing - what the fuck do I have to apologize for? "Lack of knowledge" my ass you arrogant prick, this is a discussion on rock guitarists. "Andre Segovia"...how about naming more than one classical guitarist? What is that, your token classical guitarist contribution? That's like Rolling Stone throwing Bitches Brew on their 100 best rock album list (it's not even Miles' best fusion album, and quite frankly, doesn't hold together in many spots.) Segovia's great, but either make a list for classical guitarists or pick some more.

Les Paul? Great innovator and inventor, but even if you incorporate his studio techniques into his playing, he's hardly on par with, say, Charlie Christian or Wes Montgomery or Duane Allman or Clarence White, etc. A fine guitarist, he can be a fine soloist, but one of the ten greatest players? NO.

Leo Kottke, yeah, he should be on the list. Steve Miller? My fucking ass, he's a fine guitarist, trying to build on the blues tradition, his shit can be tough to play, but even if you ignore the candy-ass MOR work he's best known for, the early shit ain't the tops.

Bo Diddley, great innovator too, great rhythm guitarist, one great fucking guitar, but we're talking about the absolute best, and he misses the cut because guys like Hendrix and Townshend can smoke him by effectively playing double duty on lead AND rhythm.

"too dumb or un cultured to know who *really* is good, and who was a fad created by a time in history (hendrix, page, clapton), but I will put a shout out for Jeff Beck. Definitely a progressive artist." 'Progressive'? Is that the key to your rankings? Did you take lessons from Robert Fripp on how to be an arrogant ass? (For the record, I actually like his playing, Fripp's a great guitarist. He's still an ass.)

"Mike Oldfield also did things with guitars and other things no one else has or had done, yet he is in no ones top guitarist lists." Give me a fucking break...

"Take away Hendrix's pedals and effects, what do you have?"
I guess you have a hard time recognizing melody. Hendrix was more than a virtuoso, he knew when to pull back and play eloquently (instead of vomiting up everything, which he occasionally did live, but you wouldn't know unless you got the bootlegs or the Hendrix Family's endless releases).

"We also should not forget George Harrison ever because without him, there is no Clapton." Do you actually listen to this shit or do you pull this crap out of your ass to keep up this arrogant pose of yours? Clapton is completely steeped in the blues tradition, so much he fucking steals riffs by the truckload - (he did a better job of it in the 60's, now he sucks). Harrison may listen to Robert Johnson, but Carl Perkins and Ravi Shankar have had a bigger impact in his playing.

"and without Early (sic) guitarists such as Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley and others including BB King, there would be no George Harrison." Yeah, there's some semblance of reason there, but overly broad statements are hardly insightful.

"We owe alot to those early pioneers and someone should be bright enough to make a real top ten list that doesn't include pop artists that are pop icons, don't you agree?"

Fine. Insert Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and Robert Johnson in there. They weren't only innovators, melodically speaking, they destroy guys like Les Paul and (pffft) Steve Miller.
Last edited by MK on Tue Sep 20, 2005 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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balthazar
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Postby balthazar » Thu Aug 28, 2003 2:20 pm

Here's my list. It was hard ranking them.

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Eric Clapton
3. Jeff Beck
4. Ritchie Blackmore
5. Pete Townsend
6. Brian May
7. Bo Diddley
8. Chuck Berry
9. Duane Allman
10. Muddy Waters
11. George Harrison
12. Nuno Bettencourt
13. Jimmy Page
14. Eddie Van Halen
15. Andres Segovia

I would have liked to include Les Paul, but unfortunately, I'm not familiar with his work. There are a lot of good blues players that get overlooked, including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Johnny Lang, B.B. King, Steve Cropper and Buddy Guy. I also may have considered Joe Walsh, Peter Green, and Bob Welch.

Also, I would have liked to include some country musicians, but all the good country pickers I can think of right now specialize in some other instrument, e.g., Bill Monroe on mandolin, or Earl Scruggs on banjo.

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Postby britre » Thu Aug 28, 2003 4:16 pm

4. Ritchie Blackmore

6. Brian May

12. Nuno Bettencourt


Three very overlooked guitarists. Esspecially Brian May. Some of that work he did in the 70's to this day can not be duplicated and/or imitated.

Nuno was always overlooked only because he was in your average hair band, but Extreme was more than average and really all one need do is go to your bargain discount rack and get a copy of Nuno's CD and you will find a much overlooked great body of writing and playing.

Blackmore? Need I comment? How many beginners imitate his most famous three chord song? Not much else to be said for that.

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Postby lukpac » Thu Aug 28, 2003 8:32 pm

My holy opinion?

I take these lists with a grain of salt. It's like asking "what's better, Satisfaction or That'll Be The Day?" How can you rate one above the other?

Besides, it's not often I listen to music thinking "I'm listening to this because he is a great guitarist." Sure, that helps, but for me it's the music as a whole that matters.

All in my humble (correct) opinion.

:mrgreen:

Sound
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Postby Sound » Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:44 am

15 of my faves in R&R, off top of my head:

1) Duanne Allman
2) Jim McCarty
3) Ronnie Montrose
4) Roy Buchanon
5) Blackmore
6) Page
7) Beck
8) Clapton
9) Van Halen
10) Stevie Ray Vaghann
11) Hendrix
12) Alvin Lee
13) Santana
14) Steve Howe
15) Ry Cooder

sheperdfan
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Postby sheperdfan » Fri Aug 29, 2003 3:33 pm

Hello Everybody,
I'd like to add a few who have not been mentioned (or else I accidentally did not read).
1)Robin Trower(Bridge of Sighs pretty much says it all. Plus, he kept the flame of Hendrix alive while carving out his own niche)
2)Nils Lofgren(possibly the most undderappreciated guitar player in Rock. His ability to bring out harmonics is just stunning. Anybody who has seen him play acoustically will know exactly what I mean)
3)Bruce Springsteen(people have a tendency to see him in the performer mode when all one has to do is recall some of his great guitar playing-especially from the '78 Darkness On The Edge of Town tour or his extended solos during songs like "Kitty's Back" from ancient tours and the latest one)
4)The Edge(not so much as a notational player, but as someone who can take a chord and hammer out airy, atmospheric notation from within a chord structure. Musically speaking, I've always felt he took a great leap forward when U2 worked on The Unforgettable Fire)
5)Mick Taylor(His being able to maintain fluidity and melodicism within the confines of the great rhythym playing of Keith Richards brought out the best in the Stones. It was contrast in styles which turned the Stones into a monster unit during the '69-'73 live years)
6)Lowman Pauling of The 5 Royales(If any of you have a copy of the Rhino Monkey Hips and Rice Anthology, you'll hear some of the most tasty licks from a guitar player in an R&B, Doo-Wop context.)
7)Hubert Sumlin(His work with Howlin' Wolf should never be overlooked. I once did a paper in college on Jeff Beck and he cited him as one of his biggest influences)
8)A huge boatload of rural acoustic Blues guitar players from the '20s-'40s who should never be forgotten-simple as that. People like Memphis Minnie, Blind Willie McTell, Peetie Wheatstraw and Tampa Red should be a part of the common musical vocabulary of our Country and they are not. Hopefully the Martin Scorsese Presnts The Blues series will help to change that somewhat in the same vein that the Ken Burns Jazz series did)
9)Terry Kath(Even Jimi Hendrix thought so very highly of him. He's an example of somebody who gets overlooked because of the fact that Chicago has spent so many years being a Pop band)
10)Allen Collins, Steve Gaines & Gary Rossington(from that other Southern band that got us out of our seats.)
I just wanted to add that I'm happy to see people mentioning Peter Green. I get the distinct impression that people in the U.K. appreciate what he has left for us more than those of us in the U.S. Obviously, those of us who really follow music closely will speak of him. But I find it very sad that Green and Mick Taylor are never spoken even in general terms beyond the so-called core music fans. I've only recently been able to dip my feet further into the waters when it comes to Free. After listening to the U.K. reissue of Fire and Water, the late Paul Kossoff deserved to be a household name. Peter Frampton's work with Humble Pie should also be pointed out to people as well.
Anyway, I wanted to add some people who may not come up immediately to mind in some of these polls. I just hope I didn't start a war in adding to the discussion. Hope all of you are doing well.
sheperdfan

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Patrick M
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Postby Patrick M » Fri Aug 29, 2003 4:17 pm

1) The Great Kat
2) Mick Mars (Motley Crue)
3) Michael Angelo (Nitro)
4) C.C. DeVille (Poison, Samantha 7)
5) Allan Holdsworth

mikenycLI
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Postby mikenycLI » Fri Aug 29, 2003 5:12 pm

Not necessarily in order of renown, ability, or personal preference....

Muddy Waters
Albert King
Steve Morse
Davey Graham
Mike Bloomfield
Johnny Winter
Les Paul
Merle Travis
Steve Howe

britre
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Postby britre » Fri Aug 29, 2003 8:27 pm

Patrick M wrote:1) The Great Kat


Now we are talking guitar, if you heard "The Great Kat" and said, hey thats Mamlmstien (I can not spell his forgien name) you were wrong ;) Bethoven on speed, ya thats the ticket!

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Postby mikenycLI » Sat Aug 30, 2003 10:18 pm

More of my picks, again, not necessarily in order of renown, ability, or personal preference....

Mick Ronson
Jett Harris
Buddy Guy
Dave Stewart