Rolling Stone Releases 100 Greatest Guitarists List

Back in 2003 Rolling Stone’s David Fricke put together a list of what he thought were the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All-Time for the magazine. Now, eight years later, Rolling Stone has revisited the topic and has augmented a panel of three contributors with 56 esteemed musicians and industry vets such as MMJ’s Carl Broemel and Jim James, the Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes as well as Eddie Van Halen. The resulting list has its flaws (no Trey!?!?), but you can’t blame this one on the Jersey Shore-loving editorial staff over at Rolling Stone since they loaded the panel with respected vets.

In what should be a surprise to no one, Jimi Hendrix took the top spot and was correctly followed in the Top Five by Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck. Besides Anastasio (who was a judge), shockingly missing from the list are Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Al DiMeola and Ace Frehley. Who would we have replaced on this list? We love Paul Simon, but he can’t compare to those left off that we mentioned. Willie Nelson, Kurt Cobain and Ron Asheton are other guitarists who we appreciate yet are baffled by their inclusion.

The best part of the feature, which serves as the cover story on the soon-to-hit-newsstands edition of Rolling Stone, is that for some entries members of the panel wrote about why those on the list deserved the honor. From Carlos Santana discussing Jerry Garcia to Trey Anastasio paying tribute to Neil Young to Tom Petty honoring George Harrison, these essays are all good reads.  Look, in the end it’s all opinion, and we hand it to Rolling Stone for putting together an eclectic panel rather than letting their staffers make this list.

What do you think of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarist List?

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39 Responses

  1. Kurt Cobain was so flummoxed by his own terrible guitar skills that he frequently avoided solos and eventually hired Pat Smear to cover for him on that front.

    These lists come out every few years to drive clicks & eyeballs. They’re meaningless.

  2. Wasn’t Skydog #2 last time?

    PS Jan Werner has pledged that Kiss will never be in the hall of fame so I’m not surprised to see Ace missing from this list.

  3. Wait you actually think Keith Richards is in the top 5??? Thats totally fucked up. I love him but Duane Allman would be a much better choice

  4. I do, Kyle.

    If Duane would’ve been in the industry for more than five years before his tragic passing I might feel differently, but Keef influenced TWO generations of guitar players, laid down some incredibly distinctive tracks and co-wrote one of the greatest canons in the history of rock music. I think that’s a pretty strong case.

    1. that’s the list from 2003 that David Fricke put together. He knows more about great guitar playing than actual guitarists do…

  5. AL DiMEOLA not on the list? CARLOS Devadip (“touch and sweet fire melodies)SANTANA .. NOT in the ABSOLUTE TOP TEN? You gotta be kidding me! PRINCE not even in the TOP THIRTY? Here’s another AL for consideration. EARTH, WIND & FIRE’S guitarist AL McKAY. Seriously awesome ON STAGE SOLOS back in the 70’S! Even Phillip Bailey admits EWF hasn’t done anything GREAT since McKAY left the band! What does THAT tell you?

  6. If a list of the 100 greatest guitarists does not have Trey Anastasio anywhere on it, there is no way it is trustworthy.

  7. Pretty much an absolute joke that Trey is not on there. but consider: I doubt any of the “panel” has ever seen and heard Phish or TAB live, mostly because they don’t know what good live music is all about. Agreed: Paul Simon? Kurt Cobain? Thurston Moore? Lindsay Buckingham should be way further up the list, as should Jerry. And as much as I love Keith Richards, a rhythm guitarist does not belong in the top five. And though he too belongs on the list, Neil Young is overrated. You tube any vids with Trey sitting in with the Allmans, Phil & Friends and tell me he doesn’t steal the show. Obviously, I’m not biased…pshaw.

  8. pretty stong case indeed except the article is greatest gutaists of all time not greatest influences. Duane shredded better than anyone. Maybe you should talk to Eric Clapton an ask him what he thinks. I love richards but his chops dont even compare.

  9. Cobain makes the list but not Dave Grohl ? Grohl was the best guitarist in Nirvana and continues to shred it up with the Foo Fighters. His guitar on ‘Everlong’ was probably the best of the 90’s.

  10. @Scott Bernstein. Not trying to argu with you but I like to have intelligent conversations about music and you are someone I respect. So by your logic Keef should be in the top 5 over duane bc he was around longer. Well in your top 5 you have Jimi Hendrix who was not around all that long either. So please explain to me how Hendrix being around less than a decade is more worthy than duane is being in the top 5??It makes no sense if duane was around longer he woulda been in your top 5 but bc keef was he is but jimi being dead at 27 puts him in the same boat as duane but you have himnumber 1??? Come one please help me make sense of this bc you contridict yourself heavily with that statement!

  11. I gave a number of reasons why I think Keith deserves his spot over Duane, longevity itself was just one of the them. Jimi is on to a plane all his own – there aren’t many kids who pick up a guitar and don’t think of emulating Hendrix. Jimi rewrote the book on the guitar and speaking of writing, in my opinion (and this is all we’re talking here, there’s no right or wrong) the ability to write innovative song structures and guitar parts should be a major part of the equation and Jimi (as well as Keith) wrote some of the greatest songs ever.

  12. And Duane didnt the logic makes no sense to me what so ever.He plays rythem guiatar for christ sake. why dont we put bob weir in the top 5 while we are oat it. Hes played forever hehas some complicated licks.So my your theory bob weir and every older guitarists feseres top 5 respect makes nosense Scott Come on you know it and your major reasoning was the keef has been around a ong time and influenced many. So did Bobbie so did Duane hell so did many other ryttem guaitarists, Plain and simple rolling stone sux and it has since the 70’s. The are worse than MTV. with an article about the 100 greatest they ourt Snookie on the cover?????????????????????????????????

  13. Disappointed to see Paul Kossoff didn’t make this list. Seems like the rationale for inclusion must be very intricate. Far and away a better bluesman than Peter Green, he was probably the best guitarist in England in his all-too-short time and had an influence on Eric Clapton who studied his sustain technique when Free supported Blind Faith on their US tour. He is also reputed to have influenced Hendrix in his writing of the guitar work on Little Wing after they had met and played together at the Selmer music store in London.

  14. Absolute joke…Where is PHIL KEAGGY? No Steve Lukather? No Jerry McPherson? No MICHAEL LANDAU? JOHN MAYER KICKS THE CRAP OUT of Many of the guys listed in their top 100

  15. Did Billy Gibbons get left off again? If you go beyond rock don’t you have to include Django? Why does Robben Ford never get the cred he’s due? Henry Vestine (Canned Heat) on this list? He wasn’t even the best guitarist to play in that
    band in their heyday (Harvey Mandel, Al Wilson) It’s all a bunch of hooey!!!

  16. Agree that Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Al DiMeola and Ace Frehley should have made the list

    there are others missing including:

    Robin Trower
    Joe Bonamassa
    Gary Moore
    Frank Marino
    Eric Johnson
    Kenny Wayne Sheppard
    Roy Clark
    Danny Gatton
    Richie Blackmore

  17. Agree that Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Al DiMeola and Ace Frehley should have made the list

    there are others missing including:
    Robin Trower
    Joe Bonamassa
    Gary Moore
    Frank Marino
    Eric Johnson
    Kenny Wayne Sheppard
    Roy Clark
    Danny Gatton
    Richie Blackmore

  18. john lennon at number 55? he was a great artist but a shit guitarist, how the fuck is trey not on this list? this only proves how irrelevant rolling stone is today.

  19. This is the most ridiculous list I have ever seen in my life. I am ashamed rolling stone has become a pop inspired piece of liberal crap. Jeff Beck #5 Keith Richards #4 WTF are you high?! Jeff Beck with one hand is better than Keith Richards! I feel insulted!

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