Seeding a shitstorm: my guess at Rolling Stone's Top 10 Guitarists

At Wilco’s show last night, Boss Wilco Jeff Tweedy mentioned that Nels Kline, the band’s hotshit guitarist, ranked 82nd on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the Top 100 Rock Guitar Players, just after Lou Reed.

I don’t know if this list has been out for a while or if it’s due to be released soon or what. I have never seen the list and I hadn’t heard about it until last night. But as soon as I knew Rolling Stone compiled a list, I started trying to imagine whom THEY would put on it, and how that would differ from my list. I’m not going to search out their list until after I post this. At some point, I’ll post a follow up to see how well I did.

I’m assuming Rolling Stone’s criteria are some combination of:
  • Fame
  • Success
  • Influence on other guitar players (how much they’ve been ripped off)
  • Respect of other guitar players (how much other guitar players would like to rip them off if they only had the chops)
  • Technical proficiency (how much they are Steve Vai)

I’m also assuming songwriting alone doesn’t enter into their evaluation, and that they didn’t include bassists, so no Beatles in the top 10. I suppose Harrison would have to be in the Top 100 among guitarists, and obviously McCartney would rank at or near the top of a list of top rock bassists.

First, my guess at Rolling Stone’s list:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Eric Clapton
  • Keith Richards
  • Chuck Berry
  • Jimmy Page
  • Eddie Van Halen
  • Les Paul 
  • Duane Allman
  • Jeff Beck
  • Pete Townsend

Les Paul wasn’t a rock or R&B guitarist, but I’m guessing his technical innovations earned him a spot in their top 10.

Hedging my bets: others who may have been in Rolling Stone’s top 10:
  • Bo Diddley
  • Billy Gibbons
  • Slash
  • SRV
  • Dave Davies

OK, now onto my list. I’m basing mine more heavily on influence, so I’m including more blues and R&B guys.

  • Hendrix
  • Robert Johnson
  • Elmore James
  • Bo Diddley
  • Hubert Sumlin
  • Muddy Waters
  • Chuck Berry
  • Keith Richards
  • Jimmy Page
  • Johnny Ramone

Also thought about including Blind Willie Johnson, Ike Turner and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Have at it. Tweet me at @richie_boy or comment on Facebook.