Here’s a can of worms for you….
Greatest rock guitarist of all time.
Tough one I know, and sure to start heated debates. But let’s do two things first.
Number one: take Chuck Berry off the list.
He invented it. Period. You can’t argue this so don’t try.
The only thing you could argue is that he lifted the entire style from his poor half drunk piano player, Johnny Johnson. The licks he played (See intro to Johnny B. Goode) were basically trying to play a piano on a guitar. The keys he played in were also piano, not guitar keys (Bb’s, etc, not “open A’s and stuff a guitar player would use).
But maybe we’ll get to that another day.
Number Two: Take Jimi Hendrix off the list. He’s the “Sgt Pepper” of guitar. It all went Technicolor after that and nobody knew you could do the stuff with a guitar that he did.
So who is left to top a list?
Well, Clapton is god right? Always knew when to be tasteful and to shred. He’s gotta be at the top.
Jimmy Page? Yeah. But probably side by side with Jeff Beck. Both masters. Personally I was probably influenced more by Page because of his lean toward blues, but it’s hard to say.
I used to always say it was David Gilmour. When you can hum a solo as much as a song then you know the player is something special. That’s Gilmour.
Eddie Van Halen would be high on anybody’s list. He changed the way people played. Not really for the better, but HE was great at it. After Eddie everybody felt like they had to be more “athletic” than musical. The faster the better and if you can use your right hand on the fretboard as well, then you MUST be good. Not necessarily. Eddie knew when to reel it in.
For sheer feel I give the nod to Keith Richards. He makes a guitar talk to you without you knowing.
And let me submit a wildcard.
Somebody that knows tastefulness more than possibly any other guitarist to ever play in a band.
Sometime it’s what you don’t play. And sometime it’s knowing when to let it crank to eleven.
That would be Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
He always got the tone perfect, and knew what the song called for.
And isn’t it about the song? Really?
1. Chuck Berry
2. Jimi Hendrix
3. Eric Clapton
4. Keith Richards
5. David Gilmour
6. Jimmy Page
7. Pete Townsend
8. Eddie Van Halen
9. Duane Allman
10. Mike Campbell
And yes….Damon Johnson should be on the list. Just didn’t want the BJS to seem self-aggrandizing….
Have a list?