Rolling Stone Magazine – 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time – Part One

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I just perused my special collector’s edition of Rolling Stone Magazine‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All TimeI cross-checked that I have seen 40 of the guitarists listed in this compilation live in concert over the decades. Several of the guitarists I have seen perform more than once (see list below). I have witnessed Carlos Santana play live 21 times, 20 of those shows in the last 13 years. I was fortunate to see him with Derek Trucks & The Allman Bros twice this past week. (Warren Haynes played with them both but he is not listed in the 100 Greatest which is truly a surprise to me.)

The Web sites for many of the guitarists living and deceased are extensive in their content. You owe it to yourself to click and look at how these artists create a Web presence for their fans and music.

Get the magazine you will gain a valuable perspective from fellow guitarists who authored the articles about guitarists they love and respect, like we do.

The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time – Part One

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Eric Clapton (4 times)

3. Jimmy Page (1 time)

4. Keith Richards (1 time)

5. Jeff Beck (3 times)

6. B. B. King (9 times)

7. Chuck Berry

8. Eddie Van Halen (1 time)

9. Duane Allman

10. Pete Townshend (1 time)

11. George Harrison

12. Stevie Ray Vaughn

13, Albert King

14. David Gilmour (1 time)

15. Freddie King

16. Derek Trucks (5 times)

Derek Trucks Guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks perform in concert with the Allman Brothers Band at the Greek Theater on May 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Warren Haynes;Derek Trucks

17. Neil Young (3 times)

18. Les Paul

19. James Burton

20. Carlos Santana (21 times)

21. Chet Atkins

22. Frank Zappa

23. Buddy Guy (5 times)

24. Angus Young

25. Tony Iommi

26. Brian May

27. Bo Diddley

28. Johnny Ramone

29. Scotty Moore

30. Elmore James

31. Ry Cooder

32. Billy Gibbons (1 time)

33. Prince

34. Curtis Mayfield

35. John Lee Hooker (1 time)

36. Randy Rhoads

37. Mick Taylor

38. The Edge (3 times)

39. Steve Cropper*

40. Tom Morello

41. Mick Ronson

42. Mike Bloomfield

43. Hubert Sumlin (2 times)

44. Mark Knopfler

45. Link Wray

46. Jerry Garcia (2 times)

47. Stephen Stills (3 times)

48. Jonny Greenwood

49. Muddy Waters (2 times)

50. Ritchie Blackmore

25 Replies to “Rolling Stone Magazine – 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time – Part One”

  1. Ok totally agree jimi hendrix gotta be number 1 but both john lee hooker and jimmy paige should be in the top 10 if not the top 5!! And the edge quite honestly should be further down the field. Although he’s very influential I wouldn’t put him in the top 100 guitarists of all time!! All that said that’s just my opinion. Great article do 1 on top bass players as I’m 1 myself and I could name a few!!!!!


  2. Love the suggestion, I am considering it. I will have to look and see if the bass guitar magazines have culled a list as a starting point. John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Page I have seen. Page is a monster guitarist especially when he plays that double neck guitar. John Lee Hooker lays down the boggie like nobody’s business. Buddy Guy learned so much from him. I find I focus on John Lee’s voice more than his guitar playing…just how my ears and blues heart work I guess


  3. You nailed it and I was so glad to see Stevie Ray Vaughn on your list, I simply adore him.
    I’m a blues fan and I saw quite a few others that I love also…
    This will be a very intriguing blog and I have already thought of a few people to show it to.


    1. Ya, a list based on the assumption that if you play mostly blues rock based 4/4, you are a great guitarist, but if you mix a bit of Jazz in the mix, you are not great. (Poul Simon is a greater guitarist than Al Di Meola – come on !)


  4. The greatest means something different to the best. Several commenters have mentioned names that I (a guitarist!) have not even heard of. This is not about merely musical ability.To be among the greatest means you should be influential, iconic, even simply popular, for if a vast number of people like an artist, then how can we discount their view? But despite all this, how can Clapton possibly be number two? The worship of Clapton for almost 50 years is utterly ridiculous and has more yo do with the rebranding of blues as a white music, and the need for an ‘authentic’ god-head on which to build the myth. Clapton is an extremely conservative musician, who played competently in the 60s, spent the 70s on heroin making music without a pulse, and by the mid-eighties finally learned how to play…


  5. Well it’s beyond me that GOD…Joe Satriani,,, and his son Jesus….Gary Moore….were left out and Keith Richards was 4th. That’s an insult to guitar players world wide. It did say greatest guitar players didn’t it?


  6. I note that these “greatest” lists never mention forgotten gospel great Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was doing amazing things with an electric guitar in the late ’30s and ’40s–long before Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix–and influenced the likes of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Check out the YouTube video of her playing “Didn’t It Rain” to a crowd of Manchester, England, youth in 1964 as a 49 yr old woman.

    Also, these “greatest” lists never acknowledge notable musicians who played religious rock as part of the Jesus Music movement of the late ’60s and ’70s: Phil Keaggy, for example, on guitar, and keyboardist Michael Omartian. I’d take a band made up of Sister Rosetta, Keaggy, and Omartian any day over any trio on a list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is fantastic, I agree with you. I saw her in a video that preceded our tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex in NYC in May of 2009. Her performance has stayed with me ever since.


  7. I don’t believe this list is completely about skill. Its much more about influence. Chuck Berry should be higher in skill and influence. Prince should be higher. Muddy Waters should be in the top five. A vast majority these “great” white guitar players were simply trying to emulate the greatest guitar players on the planet; Old Black Blues Players. Not taking anything from some of the people on the list but its soooo off. Jimi, Muddy, Stevie Ray, Chuck, Jimmy, Eric, BB,


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