View Full Version : Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists (warning! sarcasm ahead!!)

El Chuxter
09-02-2003, 04:49 PM
If ever I needed evidence that the staff writers for Rolling Stone are idiots who know nothing about music, here it is: http://www.rollingstone.com/features/coverstory/featuregen.asp?pid=1917.

Their picks for the top 100 are ludicrous. I can sum up my biggest frustration with one sentence: Eddie Van Halen is #70 :eek:, and Jack White (!!!) is #17?!?!?

Hello? Anyone home? Admittedly, since starting a previous thread about those wacky Stripes, I've heard their latest album and conceded they have a right to breathe our oxygen. But guitar heroics this ain't!

Some other pretty disturbing things I noticed:

Carlos Santana isn't in the top ten.

Frank Zappa isn't in the top forty.

The list omits Slash, Lindsey Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac), Steve Vai, Steve Miller, Willie Nelson, Nancy Wilson, Ronnie Wood, Davey Johnstone (from Elton John's 70s band), Ace Frehley, and more blues greats than I could possibly count.

Heavy metal is sadly underrepresented as a whole. Only Kirk Hammett broke into the top twenty, and the only others are Tom Morello, Vernon Reid (WTH?), Adam Jones, Tony Iommi, Angus Young, and Kim Thayil.

Kurt Cobain is #12? :sur: Moreover, he ranks higher than Jeff Beck, Santana, George Harrison, the Edge, and Buddy Guy?

Like I said, I knew they were screwy over there, but this is just ridiculous!

Mandalorian Candidat
09-02-2003, 04:55 PM
I think the same people voting on this list did the AFI Greatest 100 Films list as well.

I can't believe they think Johnny Ramone warrants a Top 20 position. Hey, I like the Ramones, but are they really that talented at playing music compared to these other guys?

09-02-2003, 05:33 PM
I heard about some of this list on the radio, but since it's a pop-rock mega-station, the DJ's were all like "oh yeah, you knew he'd be up there" whilst referring to KEITH RICHARDS??? I could play circles around that guy with my feet and I'm not even all that good with a guitar...
The list is a flaming travesty... how did the guitarist from "FREE" get on there while Lonny johnson didn't even register... OR eddie lang...

And the prime offender, "The Edge" of U2.... I can't even imagine an epithet which could describe how I feel about that one....
This list is for people who like the SOUND of guitars and want to buy albums with guitarists on them, ideally ones that are currently available ... I really couldn't agree less... other than the no-brainer of including Jimi hendrix at the top, he was some kinda freakin' wizard, but usually he's invoked by people who have heard that to be the case, not people who understood what he was doing and were right freaked out by it...

Okay, sorry.... lists-by-the-numbers bug me, especially when they have no basis in fact (and believe me, skill with an instrument can actually be objectively quantified to some extent, not like medicleorians or some stuff)

09-02-2003, 05:41 PM
I'm actually surprised that they didn't put Jack White in the top 5. It seems that the entire universe has gone gaga over the White Stripes and Rolling Stone, who cares more about image than music, is always promoting that craptacular two-some.

I am glad that Jonny and Ed of Radiohead were 59 and 60. Jonny Greenwood can do more things with a guitar and play with more gadgets onstage than any 5 people combined on the list (maybe exclusing Hendrix). Ed is also a very underappreciated guitarist as well. Both could play circles around Cobain, Jack White or about 75% of the schmucks on this so called, "list".

I am shocked that Billy Corgan wasn't on there, cause he's an awesome guitar player (anybody who doubts this, can check out "Jesus I/ Mary Star of the Sea" off the Zwan CD and "Porcelina of the Vast Oceans" off Pumpkins grand, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness."

I had to chuckle at cobain, cause when i played guitar for a few years, his stuff was ridiculously simple. A guy with hooks for hands could play his stuff blindfolded.

I hate Rolling Stone. If it wasn't for that delicious cover of the Olsen Twins, i'd never even browse that magazine. :crazed:

El Chuxter
09-02-2003, 06:02 PM
I noticed Billy Corgan was absent after looking back over the list. Another pretty glaring ommision, if you ask me.

Hmm, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top ain't there, neither.

I find it rather strange that Derek Trucks is on there, but Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang aren't. Of the three young blues guitarists who hit the scene around the same time, I'd put Trucks quite a way below Shepherd and Lang.

I guess Robert Johnson's the only dead blues guitarist from the pre-rock era they know, because I could really list dozens who can outplay most of the folks here.

And nothing against the great Duane Allman, but he can't outplay everyone on that list except Jimi. Come on, people! You put him ahead of BB King, who definitely deserves the title "King of the Blues." That's got to be some sort of blasphemy there.

But mabs, I gotta disagree with you on The Edge. I don't know that I'd put him quite as high as Rolling Stone did, but I'd say he's a pretty dazzling guitarist.

09-02-2003, 07:08 PM
This is my top 15 pics for best guitarists:

1 Jimi Hendrix
2 Stevie Ray Vaughan
3 Carlos Santana
4 Eric Clapton
5 Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
6 Eddie Van Halen
7 B.B. King
8 Kirk Hammett of Metallica
9 Jeff Beck
10 Chuck Berry
11 Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
12 Pete Townshend (The Who)
13 Angus Young (AC/DC)
14 Robby Krieger (Doors)
15 Randy Rhodes (Ozzy)

Sure they may not be everyones pics but they are a hell of a lot better than R.S. pics.IMO Most of the top 100 list looks like a joke to me and I'm sure I left out some other great guitarists as well, but most of the guys I got listed kick arse big time with a pic.

By the way, this list is in no particular order just numbered, that's it.

Lowly Bantha Cleaner
09-02-2003, 09:17 PM
A nice attempt that Rolling Stone made, but they did make some questionable rankings, like Jack White being ranked so far high, but when you rank certain guitarists by number, things are going to get debatable. What the magazine should have done is pick the top 100 of all time and not ranked them. They should have listed the 100 best of all time with no numbers.

They did a good job of representing a lot of blues guitarists like Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, and Chuck Berry.

As a subscriber, I can't wait to read the interesting volume of fan mail about this particular issue.

09-02-2003, 10:03 PM
Most lists like this suck Bantha poodu.

Where's James Taylor?

Where's Keb Mo?

Peter Green makes it but not Lindsey Buckingham?

Why, praytell, is Mark Knopfler not even in the top 20?

These guys evidently spend more time writing about music than actually listening to it.

I am happy to see Duane Allman right up there as well as Clapton (of course), Johnson, SRV, Beck, and Santana. But when they shove guys like Kurt Cobain in the list at all (much less so high), it's a giveaway that they are paying lipservice to some internal political favorites in the office.

Being in the movie biz, I completely ignore most awards shows and all similar "greatest lists of all time" bs. Silly. Just silly.

09-02-2003, 11:55 PM
Now don't get me wrong, cause I don't agree with some of the selections (and some of the omissions), and I am FAR from your typical RS reader, but I think the list is actually meant to represent the 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL and CREATIVE guitarists moreso than the "technically best" (and a side note on that - the ability to play speed-of-light guitar riffs does not a great guitarist make (cause if it did, we all know Yngwie would be top of the list! ;) )). That being said, the list does make a lot of sense to me. Johnny Ramone and Kurt Cobain, while not being technical wizards by any means, certainly had HUGE influences on a great many guitarists. Nobody'll ever agree completely with any list of this sort, but I think it makes more sense than some people are giving it credit for.

09-03-2003, 12:01 AM
I dunno, Eric, cause in that sense, still don't get how Jack White is #17, he's had about as much influence with his guitar than i do with a baseball bat: none. This list blows in my opinion. :D

P.s- i don't disagree nor agree w/ you, just saying i don't think even RS knew what they were putting together when they did this list. :crazed:

09-03-2003, 12:17 AM
As I said, I don't agree 100% with it, just that it has more merit than people are giving it. Even though Audioslave is already playing a Jack White song, and there are already copycat bands out there, perhaps he doesn't deserve #17.

And besides JMG, Trey made the list! ;)

09-03-2003, 12:45 AM
hehehehehehe Yeah, i saw him on there and i couldn't believe it.
now if they had a list of "top 100 guys who really can't sing", He'd be at least in the top 10! :D

But it's trey though, so i'm all for his vocals! An acquired taste! :crazed:

09-03-2003, 02:22 AM


MY top TEN.

1. Eddie Van Halen
2. Jimi Hendrix
3. Jimmy Page
4. Joe Satriani
5. Steve Vai
6. Randy Rhodes
7. Dave Mustaine (of Megadeth)
8. BB King
9. Brian Setzer (Mr. Stray Cat)
10. James Hetfield

I picked mine based on style and influence.

At some point, everyone, has tried to finger tap...thank Eddie.

Feedback and bluesy riffs....Jimi

Memorable Rock and Roll riffs....Jimmy

Taking guitar playing to a new level, and teaching 90% of METAL shreaders!!...Joe

Learning from Joe, and taking it to the next level..Steve

Bringing Classical riffs into METAL...Randy


One of, if not the best and most recognizable blues player...BB

The KING of Rock-a-billy and fingerpicking....Brian

Master of METAL...responsible for heavy grinding riffs that make you want to kick some arse...James

These are the guys that made ME want to play guitar.

Sure there are better songwriters, some better technically, but each one of these guys influenced more bands in the last 30 years than any one else in my opinion.

edit: honorable mention: John Petrucci of Dream Theater....the guy is just too darn good to leave off the list.

09-03-2003, 08:16 AM
That list iss 100% bull. I dont care what or how the list was made up. People omitted and people there that shouldnt be. But each as their own opinion and I happen toagree with you guys. I hate RS magazine, to me they know squat about music. It is the equivalent to me writing on article on curling.

No way should Kurt be ranked before Jerry, and as much as I dont like Ac/Dc, how could Angus barely make the list? Eddie no. 70? I was glad to see King Crimson represented though. Steve Vai and Satriani not on the list? Geeeeez

09-03-2003, 10:16 AM
don't recall seeing King Sunny Ade one the list... seeing as he's the king of JuJu music with over 300 albums to his credit, and the backbone of the transition between classical (if that's the right word) African music and modern rock, I think he's a bit more influential...
Also, if a guitarists influence was important to making the list, how come Stevie Ray Vaughn was on there at all?? Granted, the guy was totally incredible speed and technique-wise, but his licks are ALL Jimi hendrix stuff, note-for-note.... I could actually list which Hendrix recording, studio or live, Stevie got each lick from, one by one.... No disrespect to Stevie, again, his was a huge loss, but he really didn't do anything new, just REAL well...
Again, I'm NOT trying to start anything here... this is actually a fun topic....
I can't recall, was Nuno bettencourt on there??
I KNOW Karl Logan of Manowar wasn't...

09-03-2003, 10:28 AM
Also, if a guitarists influence was important to making the list, how come Stevie Ray Vaughn was on there at all?? Granted, the guy was totally incredible speed and technique-wise, but his licks are ALL Jimi hendrix stuff, note-for-note.... I could actually list which Hendrix recording, studio or live, Stevie got each lick from, one by one.... No disrespect to Stevie, again, his was a huge loss, but he really didn't do anything new, just REAL well...

Clearly the problem lies in the definition of "greatest."


Great \Great\, a. [Compar. Greater; superl. Greatest.] [OE. gret, great, AS. gre['a]t; akin to OS. & LG. gr[=o]t, D. groot, OHG. gr[=o]z, G. gross. Cf. Groat the coin.] 1. Large in space; of much size; big; immense; enormous; expanded; -- opposed to small and little; as, a great house, ship, farm, plain, distance, length.

2. Large in number; numerous; as, a great company, multitude, series, etc.

3. Long continued; lengthened in duration; prolonged in time; as, a great while; a great interval.

4. Superior; admirable; commanding; -- applied to thoughts, actions, and feelings.

5. Endowed with extraordinary powers; uncommonly gifted; able to accomplish vast results; strong; powerful; mighty; noble; as, a great hero, scholar, genius, philosopher, etc.

6. Holding a chief position; elevated: lofty: eminent; distingushed; foremost; principal; as, great men; the great seal; the great marshal, etc.

He doth object I am too great of birth. --Shak.

7. Entitled to earnest consideration; weighty; important; as, a great argument, truth, or principle.

8. Pregnant; big (with young).

The ewes great with young. --Ps. lxxviii. 71.

9. More than ordinary in degree; very considerable in degree; as, to use great caution; to be in great pain.

We have all Great cause to give great thanks. --Shak.

10. (Genealogy) Older, younger, or more remote, by single generation; -- often used before grand to indicate one degree more remote in the direct line of descent; as, great-grandfather (a grandfather's or a grandmother's father), great-grandson, etc.

I sure that RS isn't using number 8 above. ;) More likely, they are thinking along the lines of 4, 5, 6, and 7. It seems that many of the guitarists on the list have at least one of those qualities, but few have all of them. I would consider SRV as falling under 5, but because he learned from those before him, he isn't granted number 6. Hendrix certainly "invented" the concept of what SRV did but arguably, SRV did it better (technical ability). But Hendrix still is granted 4, 5, 6 and 7 with more weight going to 6 because he has been labled as a "legend" or something.

The problem is that before someone comes out with a silly list like this, they need to really define their terms first. Technical skill? Influence over those who come after them? Inventing new styles? I mean, what are we talking about here? Some of them? All of them?

09-03-2003, 11:51 AM
Well as long as you're complaining---

Why only TWO token women? And none higher than 72??? Where the h is Ani Difranco? Bonnie Raitt? Michelle Shocked? Indigo Girls(Amy Ray and Emily Saliers)? Melissa Etheridge? Chrissie Hind(Pretenders)? I think this is my main beef with this list, a sad underrepresentation of women. But again, I think the list is not complete crap as you all suggest.

I mean Vai and Satriani...they are SO B-O-R-I-N-G. If they made it, so would Yngwie have to. EVH is boring after 3 or 4 songs, too. His style is so limited.

El Chuxter
09-03-2003, 12:22 PM
You're right, Bonnie Raitt is missing. :eek: That woman is a one-woman blues machine.

Joni Mitchell and Joan Jett were the only two females, right? As much as I like Joan Jett, she doesn't come to mind when I think of great guitarists.

Nuno is sadly missing. And I can't recall seeing Satriani, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, or any others of a long list in my mind.

And Chet Atkins? Where's he? One of the most influential guitarists of all time, and no mention?

If you're going for influence, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys should be there, too.

09-03-2003, 04:08 PM
And Chet Atkins? Where's he? One of the most influential guitarists of all time, and no mention?
Good point. Was Les Paul on there anywhere?

09-03-2003, 04:18 PM
Les Paul is like 46 or something on the list.

The Overlord Returns
09-03-2003, 04:21 PM
I tend to think they created this list based on a good mix of technical proficiency and influence, or innovation.

Under these criteria, Hendrix is certainly up there as the number 1 choice. I can;t think of a guitarist whose had more influence.....

Hoever, the jack white thing is puzzling, and I'm a stripes fan. i think what he can do with a guitar is quite impressive, using the instrument to fill the void of other instruments not found in a stripes song....but he should not be on the list.....and I have a feeling he'd be the first to say so.....if he cares at all.

Cobain is clearly there for influence......again, a man whose influence was massive......however, Black Francis is not on the list...which is a shame...

Now, I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but I'm a little surprised the Cure's Robert Smith isn't anywhere to be found....he's a damn fine guitar player who certainly merits a nod for influence........he can get beautiful songs out of basically every instrument he touches....

James Boba Fettfield
09-04-2003, 12:04 AM
I'll let the Metallica fan in me speak first when I say that maybe James Hetfield should of been on the list before Kirk Hammett.

Now for the music fan to speak....Iommi and Rhoads at 86 and 85? Wow, that's a new low for Rolling Stone. I also notice the lack of Jerry Cantrell. I wonder why he was left off, and Slash? Where's the love for Slash? I can see the list isn't based on technical skill, since the names Yngwie, Petrucci, Vai, and Satch are left off the list. Now maybe the list is supposed to be based on the guitarists songwriting skills and playing together, then where is Mustaine and Hetfield at? Maybe it's how influential they were, which would explain Johnny Ramone being ranked so high, or maybe it's all of those things together. If that's the case, then wow, this list is still way wrong. Either way, I'd like a list put together by Guitar magazine more than one put together by Rolling Stone.

09-04-2003, 05:58 AM
The list is all hype kiddies.....

Rolling Stone does this to sell their ragazine and to keep their name in the public eye. Stir things up, and they become richer. They know their list is poodoo, that's why they published it. While you argue, they run to the bank.

09-04-2003, 09:15 AM
The list is all hype kiddies.....

Rolling Stone does this to sell their ragazine and to keep their name in the public eye. Stir things up, and they become richer. They know their list is poodoo, that's why they published it. While you argue, they run to the bank.

I didn't buy it. ;)

And while this very thought did occur to me as well, it also became clear that it could backfire as well. Any reader who cares enough, whatever that means, might look at such a "potstirring" list and realize that if the list is so bad, it doesn't bode well for the rest of the magazine.

02-07-2007, 02:35 PM
Well the Rolling Stone list is gone(3 + years old) but on anohter forum they linked this to the top 200 guitarists and it is much better that the RS crap that was done.


02-07-2007, 10:49 PM
I'm still scratching my head over Rolling Stone not having Creedence Clearwater Revival not only on their Top 50 rock artists of all time, but their Top 100 list.

Mad Slanted Powers
02-08-2007, 02:07 AM
Well the Rolling Stone list is gone(3 + years old) but on anohter forum they linked this to the top 200 guitarists and it is much better that the RS crap that was done.

Never saw the Rolling Stone list, but this list looks pretty good. I'm not sure about the order because it's difficult to rank when there are so many different factors that can be figured. Also, I can't play so I'm pretty much in awe of anybody who can play half as well as these guys.

I noticed that Billy Corgan is not on this list, but James Iha is. Last alphabetically on those that didn't rank in the top 200 is Billy Zoom of X. I read something somewhere where he was talking about how some people look like they are playing something really difficult when it is isn't. Thus, he would pose as if he was playing something easy even if it was a difficult piece.

I agree with what was said about Eddie Van Halen. Those super fast solo riffs often sound out of place and seem like nothing more than dueling banjos turned into a big jack off contest. Sometimes simpler is better. One of my favorite bands was Talking Heads. They didn't seem to have a lot of guitar solos. The allmusic.com review of "Crosseyed and Painless" says "There are some remarkable Adrian Belew guitar parts, which turn the idea of the rock guitar solo on its head -- sweeping, eerie textures that pan through the stereo mix."

While I agree that Jack White probably shouldn't be ranked as high as he was on the Rolling Stone list, I am impressed by the sound that just the two of them can make. Lots of people point out that Meg isn't a great drummer, but she seems to make the most of the talent she has.

In the end, all I care about is whether I enjoy the song. It doesn't matter if the riffs are difficult or easy, or whether the musicians have a good understanding of music theory or not. It's like the the song "Get Up And Go" by the Teen Idles says: "You keep talking about talent, talent what do you know, instead of studying theory, we're gonna get up and go."