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Sunday, 16 May 2021

Comments

Where are Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler?

Mike, I'm sure you'll get many responses about various guitarists, so I'm sorry for adding to your burden, but did you ever see Prince (and I'm not generally a fan as he came after "my time") playing in the tribute to George Harrison? Even as a non-fan, just pure genius.

https://www.iheart.com/content/2021-05-03-princes-iconic-while-my-guitar-gently-weeps-solo-gets-intimate-new-edit/

With the exception of Segovia, your list seems terribly biased toward non-classical guitarists. How about adding
* Christopher Parkening
* Sharon Isbin
* Eliot Fisk
* Julian Bream
for a little balance?

It's a great list. I'd have to add for my list:

Eric Clapton
Jimmy Paige
George Harrison
B.B. King
Angus Young
Brian May
Johnny Ramone
Alex Lifeson
Prince

Perhaps consider:
Eric Clapton (b. 1945)
Mark Knofller (b. 1949)

LEO KOTTKE, absolutely~!~

I commend Yamandu Costa to you: https://youtu.be/EXeHPUMpM2U will surely convince you, but pretty much anything of his on YouTube is at this level.

I would put Mark Knopfler on that list, without bumping anyone. As a friend, who is quite a good guitarist, once said, he isn’t the fastest but he always picks the right note.

It’s fun to see your list. I’m a “Gen-Xer,” so part of a certain generation of nerds that “nerded out” in certain ways, especially so when I was younger in my 20s, when I was really heavily driven to do so. Cameras, music, movies, younameit, and always seeking the “deep cuts.” So I have a passing knowledge of a few interesting choices you mention, Bailey and Fahey, because they were being discovered and explored, and then touted, by the experimental music people I followed then.

I’m wondering if you know about Jim O’Rourke, not because I think he should make The List (though he’s an interesting creative in whatever he picks up), but rather because he’s the kind if guy that you’d probably have fun discussing this list with. If you don’t know about him, he worked to try to give Fahey an income and comeback in the 90s, I believe, covered his songs, tried to learn from Fahey’s approach. If you want a glimpse, maybe check out this interview https://www.stereogum.com/2007352/jim-orourke-interview-2018/interviews/

This comment was originally going to be a mixed ultra-positive and semi-negative reaction to Kurt Cobain’s inclusion, representing my Gen-X. I like the melodic lines that Cobain composed, but it’s hard for me to include him in a definitive list. I wanted to propose an alternative. I guess I don’t know enough to have an obvious credible substitute, and I thought “Who would O’Rourke list?”

Like you say, though, trimming to 20 is hard. And then trimming it down to 12 makes The List either too obvious or too obviously provocative. More than 25 it becomes a little uninteresting.

Thanks for getting me to pull out some records and youtubes on this lazy Sunday.

Doc Watson and Bruce Cockburn.

One guitarist worthy of a spot is Richard Thompson. He is nominally a folk guitarist, but he can play many different genres. I saw him live in concert a few years ago. Great entertainer! He did a “Guitar Hero” medley featuring works by many of his idols, a number of whom are in your list.

I first became aware of how good he was when I saw this video of him playing his best known work, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”. I hope the link works. Enjoy!
https://youtu.be/k5V0RkCIaXo

P.S. Now discovering Jack Rose, who would've been my age if still alive today. Not for The List, but maybe the culmination of who and what I was seeking thanks to your post.

Lose Paco de Lucia . Try Diego de El Gastor in that genre. Or Ramon Montoya.

Billy Strings?

Here's a few:
The Edge playing any U2 classic. Eric Johnson and his song Cliffs of Dover, Eddie Hazel playing Maggot Brain. Jimmy Page playing his heart out on the solo on "Since I've been loving you" or "Tea for one".
But above all of them, Jimi Hendrix. Listen to the album "The Jimi Hendrix Concerts", it's out of this world.
Paul

I don’t buy G.O.A.T. lists. Unless you’re culture enough and have heard every guitarist of all times, you would not know if you missed one that should be on the list. And suppose you did happen to hear every guitarist, you may not know enough about a particular genre of guitar to be able to discern greatness. To my point, Chet Atkins noted that Sabicas was the greatest of the all. If I were to fall for such nonsense, I would list the Australian guitarist John Williams.

I would have included in my list perhaps the greatest living Jazz guitarist,Pat Metheny, who's range of styles is vast, but always individual.

Even my wife who hates my Jazz tastes is always keen to see him play when he is here in Italy.

My list would include the now forgotten Jan Akkerman, Lee Ritenour on his less commercial tracks, Chuck Loeb, John McLaughlin and Warren Haynes, just on the strength of his playing on "Cortez the Killer" with Dave Matthews on the Live in Central Park CD.

The list is almost endless

I would have Al DiMeola in there somewhere. Maybe Duane Allman as well.

I think you need to add Roy Clark, who could play anything with strings and make it sound good. Also Kaki King, who helped create percussive fingerstyle playing (not a man, but no GOAT list is complete without her).

I think lists are most useful for one's own delectation and education, and possibly to fuel edifying geeky debate if they're not taken too seriously. They're also decent starting points to get into a new topic, again as long as they're not taken too seriously.

With that in mind, I think this is a reasonable pop- Western- and Northern-centric list. Even so, I might have tried to squeeze in the likes of Augustin Barrios, Charlie Christian, Roland Dyens, Marc Ribot, Pat Metheney, Steve Cropper(!), Frank Zappa and Prince, not to mention African and Brazilian traditions, perhaps more flamenco... and before you know it, we have 50+ names!

Just for fun, how about some pre-recording guitar giants? From Classical and Romantic eras we have Mauro Giuliani, Luigi Legnani, Niccolo Paganini (yes, that Paganini), and Johann Kaspar Mertz--all toasts of Vienna and Europe--and from Spain, Fernando Sor and Francisco Tárrega among others. While there are no contemporary recordings, we have their considerable reputations and their body of written work to attest to their virtuosity and impact, and plentiful modern interpretations of their compositions, studies and methods.

What’s your case for Cobain?

Mike Bloomfield.

- Prince (why does he never make these lists?)
- Rosetta Tharpe
- Bonnie Raitt (why does she never make these lists?)
- Joni Mitchell
- Martin Taylor
- St Vincent
- Charlotte Hatherley

[Well, the category was "greatest MALE guitarists, which rules out some of the ones you mentioned. WatchMojo must have a separate video for female guitarists. --Mike]

Also:

- Peter Green
- Bert Jansch
- Richard Thompson
- Bernard Butler
- George Harrison

"I hate lists. I don't even think like that."

Well, me too, but sticking to the living: Bill Frisell, Richard Thompson, Pat Metheny, Sean Shibe...

If you don't know Sean Shibe, then give your ears a treat.

Mike

Guitar is my life, so i should be interested; but no, i probably don't think like that either...

Any “best guitarists” list without Mark Knopfler has a problem.

Lists are impossible, but think perhaps Jimmy Page should be on it: everything he played he stole ... but what stealing – any thief so good is more than just a thief, he is an artist of stealing. Avoid anything live which gets too long solos.

And Tom Verlaine for sure. And Johnny Marr. Bill Frisell. Might be a place for Steve Howe: you have to get past the absurd cosmic progressive-rock thing but he is very gifted (he is why I play a 175). Many others.

Lists are impossible. Glad Jeff Beck is on it (a year of fame before he was really good and then five decades of brilliance in obscurity) and not Eric Clapton (a year of being almost as good as Beck was before he was very good and then five decades of boring).

Ah, Mike. No space for the genius that is Richard Thompson? For a stripped down live solo performance check out Small Town Romance from the early 1980s. Other highlights are Shoot Out The Lights from the same era, or 1952 Vincent Black Lightning from a decade later - the studio version of which to my ears is overproduced, but hearing it live never fails to give me goosebumps (and I don't even like motorbikes - this is a good version https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=j0kJdrfzjAg). Not content with being a guitarist's guitarist, his lyrics are also impeccable, and he's possessed of a rich voice

Richard Thompson, b. 1949 should be on the list imo. Not a blues cliché in sight.

I don't understand why the guitarist's sex matters. Style would be a more sensible thing to segment by.

Supposedly Eric Clapton, when asked how it felt to be the world's greatest living guitarist, suggested asking Prince.

Tony Rice deserves a mention. Mark Knopfler is pretty great. Paco de Lucia. John McLaughlin. I could do this all day really.

[To your first question, I assume WatchMojo had either already done, or was going to do, a list of greatest female guitarists.

Yes here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DvXBg73fO8

--Mike]

IMHO one omission, Bill Frisell.

Long career, crosses genres (won a best jazz album award with a "country" album titled Nashville) and versatile (solo, with string quartet, with quintet and silent movie, etc).

Can be recognized by EITHER his tone or his harmonic vocabulary.

Pat Metheny b 1954, he is an astounding jazz fusion guitarist. Listen to him play Phase Dance; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zF8EMETIFQ

Elmore James b 1918; was a great blues guitarist and one of the players who greatly influences of Keith Richards.The Sky is Crying is a true classic of his; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd7b1Ye6Oc0

Hubert Sumlin b 1931 was Howlin Wolfs guitarist. Give Killing Floor a try; lhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C4PsXoFslM

Albert King b 1923 is one of my favourite blues guitarists. He was Stevie Ray Vaughan's hero. My favourite recording is Blues at Sunrise Live; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMqUbtPWMTA

Los Straitjackets has two great guitarists, Danny Amis and Eddie Angel and are some of the finest surf players of all time. I cannot tell you how much I love this recording. The mix replicates the early 1960's sound perfectly; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ronbK_suzQM

Hank Marvin b 1941 was the lead player in The Shadows. Apache still knocks me out everytime I hear it; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzgbcyfJgfQ

For anyone who has never heard Jeff Beck b 1944 try this. A true virtuoso at his finest doing Becks Bolero; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmO0OZC6Ifk

[I will follow up and listen to all those links, thanks! --Mike]

I was going to bring up the absence of Clapton and Knopfler, but only came upon this thread when it had 30 replies, and that "oversight" was pointed out by many right thinking people.

So, since I'm here, where are Clapton and Knopfler?

[Clapton's in Ewhurst in a villa called Hurtwood Edge, and Knopfler lives a secluded life in London with his family. --Mike]

There is only one number 1, Rory Gallagher.

A list of great guitarists, sure to be complete agreement about that. As you said, depends on what style you like. Segovia has never done it for me, not arguing, plenty of people like him, just not to my taste.

Here are a few thoughts about some other worthies, with accompanying documentation.

Pete Townsend
Eric Clapton.

The Edge. The link has a short bit from him. (a little edgy you might say)

https://youtu.be/x6ifY1UV3CM?list=TLPQMTUwNTIwMjEk_hOBQQXuEg&t=210

Mark Knopfler. Here is a song that is not flashy, just great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy3vzdtiXF4

My mistake, Mike.

I guess I must be a bit bemused that anyone is interested in a list of guitarists who happen to be male.

It’s most of them. Is there any intellectual value in such a list video, or was it produced first in order to head off the inevitable, predictable, bad-faith complaints about inverse sexism from a certain quarter of our gender?

In addition to many already mentioned, Pierre Bensusan, Michael Hedges and John McLaughlin...

I appreciate the list. There are some names on here who I’m not familiar with and I’ll give them a listen on the streaming service. I would put Frank Zappa b1940 on this list. Maybe drop Carlos Santana or Neil Young to make room for Frank.

The list overlooks Italian guitarists and Portuguese guitarists, many of whom are brilliant performers and can be seen on YouTube.

It's great that you included Jeff Beck. Check out his version of A Day in the Life https://youtu.be/hHHY3eRUMsM

I went to see John Fahey in the early 1980's. He was playing in a student center coffeehouse on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota. When I arrived he was standing in the hall outside the venue smoking a cigarette. He was wearing worn blue jeans and a slightly stretched out inexpensive t-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the left sleeve. Someone came out of the men's room across the hall from the venue and walked up to Fahey. Assuming he was talking to the janitor, he asked Fahey if he could clean up the men's room because someone had vomited in it.

Fahey casually said, "I don't work here." and let it go at that.

Guitar players (limited to those I've seen live) that should be short listed:

Charlie Byrd
Doc Watson
Tony Rice
Leo Kottke
Ry Cooder
Joni Mitchell
Pat Metheny
Michael Hedges

and since you included bass players:

Jaco Pastorius

and one that I haven't see live, but should be mentioned:

Sonny Landreth

The list could be endless and I like yours but we could add Ritchie Blackmore and Johnny Winter if there is room for 22.

Prince
Sonny Sharrock
Richard Bishop
Marc Ribot

And so many others... I hate these kinds of lists too.

Good surprise to see Derek Bailey, but I was taken aback to see his date of birth was 1930.

Fred Frith and Robert Fripp ought to be in there.

I have to confess that any assembly of GOATs leaves me a bit irritated at best. Even in competitive sports, which would seem a bit easier than this category. And don't get me started on Greatest Formula 1 Drivers, where machines are the GOATs if anything.

All the people mentioned that I have heard of are/were great, but really only in a certain time/space/genre and this only covers a short time of recorded and broadcast music, available to a limited number of people and playing a limited number of genres.

Enjoy brilliance when you see/hear it, spread the joy to others, and watch for it wherever you may be.

And where the heck is Eric Clapton? Keith Richards?

What? No Charlie Byrd? Just kidding. A list is a list, but here are some others I thought of, when I read your list, Mike. Julian Bream, Scotty Moore, John McLaughlin, Duane Allman, Charlie Christian, Pat Metheny, Jimmy Page. There have been many great guitarists in the last 70 years, indeed.

A list without BB King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and especially Mark Knopfler, is not a list of the best, it is just a list of your favorites - not that there is anything wrong with that.

Nice list Mike. I would certainly have included Pat Metheny and Mark Knopfler. However, I can't see how such a list can exclude David Gilmour. His guitar solo on "Comfortably Numb" has been frequently voted the greatest rock guitar solo of all time. You can see/listen to a live performance of it at Pompeii here starting at 4:25--
https://youtu.be/eHKG7EMxWW8

It seems that the "lists" are just as dependent on musical tastes as they are on appreciation of virtuosity. I recognise maybe a quarter of those examples given by everyone and couldn't produce my own list as it is too dependent on how I feel at the time but no mention of say, David Gilmour or Jesse Cook (off the top of my head) seems remiss.

I love these musical discussions. I always find something good and I’m already investigating some of these guitarists. I had missed your earlier Jazz Starter Kit and now I’m really enjoying Quiet Kenny and Coward of the County. Thanks for the heads up.

The legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil at the crossroads is interesting and I’m finding reference to it all over his Wikipedia page. I love the Cohen Brothers take on this legend (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) where they attribute it to Tommy Johnson.

No love for Stanley Jordan. Truly genre defying.

I'm not a big fan of these types of lists. That said, let's not forget:

Carlos Montoya (b. 1903) of flamenco fame.

Hard to argue with anyone on your list. My list would also include BB King and Eric Clapton. If there's room for Kurt Cobain, then there's gotta be room for Bill Frisell and Scotty Moore.

Reading the complaints above about the maleness of the list, with which I concur, let me put in a mention for classical guitarist Ida Presti, of whom I only recently learnt thanks to Richard Thompson (mentioned above) citing her as an influence in his new memoir Beeswing.

[WatchMojo is a content creator of YouTube videos. They make numerous different videos on a wide variety of different subjects. The one I randomly happened to watch was the WatchMojo list of greatest male guitarists. My comment was a rebuttal to their list, which I thought was poor. I made my list to be left as a comment on that YouTube video, as I explained in the post. My guess is that WatchMojo made its list to be specifically male guitarists not to be unfair to female guitarists, but because they have a separate video of greatest female guitarists. I watched that video, but only after the fact. I didn't comment on that one.

Hope that's clear. And thank you for the mention of Ida Presti--I'll check her out. --Mike]

Rory Gallagher seemed to be at one with the guitar, similar to Jimi Hendrix (or Ronnie O'Sullivan and snooker).

Don't forget Bo Diddley, Peter Green, Eddie Hazel and Duane Allman. And then there's...

Arguably, you're forgetting Jimmy page of Led Zep and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Two evergreen milestones of the trade...

[I didn't forget them, I just don't think they're necessarily among the 20 greatest male guitarists just because they're extraordinary musicians who were in extremely popular and successful bands. Same thing with George Harrison--he was the perfect guitarist for the Beatles but that doesn't make him among the greatest as a guitarist per se. Of course this is actually an argument about list criteria, not about the people. --Mike]

Let me mention some guitarists who haven't even been suggested one time in all the comments.

Joe Pass!

A little know West Coast guy George Cromarty who only released a couple of tiny-label LPs.

And while Jerry Garcia was never technically more than adequate, there are many many examples of his brilliant sense of melody and timing, which in my book makes him a better guitarist than most of the shredders.

Joe Pass, way up near the top.
Real jazz.

https://youtu.be/BJTqvNLQlG0

Just for fun!

Missing from the list:
Huddie Leadbetter (Leadbelly)
Charlie Christian
Robert Fripp
Ani DiFranco.

Just off the top of my head! More later....

Ah, Derek Bailey (with an 'e'), great to see him there. Used to regularly go to his Saturday morning concerts in a wine bar in Hackney, east London in the '80s, sometimes the audience was outnumbered by the four or five musicians performing a foot or two away from us. Also in the left field you might have included James Blood Ulmer and the great Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset.

Like many other commenters I think John McLaughlin and Pat Metheny deserved inclusion. And finally, a favourite of mine Ralph Towner, a great perhaps for his modesty of approach!

I second don daso‘s nomination of Leo Kottke.

Try Tim Reynolds solo of Led Zeppelin's, "Kashmir" on Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, "Live in Las Vegas." Amazing guitar work. When I first heard it, I thought both Matthews and Reynolds were playing; but no, it's a Reynolds solo. (You can find clips on YouTube.)

Link Wray
Johnny Ramone
Lou Reed
Rory Gallagher
Johnny Marr
Dick Dale

The famous quote from BB King about Peter Green says it all: “He has the sweetest tone that I ever heard. He was the only one who gives me the cold sweats”.

I was missing John Williams and Julian Bream as classic guitarists, Eric Clapton (nice to see so many mentions in the comments, though) and Bert Jansch. Good to see them all mentioned by others.

Maybe watch Sylvain Luc and his Trio Sud on Youtube. He would be on the top if my list. Amazing musician.

[OMG they are just fantastic. A lot of virtuoso work is so effortful, and he's so relaxed. That's great stuff. Thanks very much for this. I didn't know him. --Mike]

Any list of "great guitarists" that contains Kurt Cobain is an automatic fail for me. Why? What has he ever done on the guitar that is in any way interesting? I suppose the rest of your list is Ok, but of course incomplete. Allan Holdsworth to me falls into the category of essentially un-listenable good guitarists, of which there are many (e.g. John McLaughlin, Al Dimeola, although I do like their famous jazz rock bands). Most guitarists would probably include Steve Vai or Joe Satriani in your list. I don't much care for them, but technically they are very good.

Seen on a wall.

I hate

GRAFFITI

LISTS

&

IRONY

[That's pretty funny. It might be a little funnier if it were "Irony/Lists/Graffiti," because that would emphasize the irony of including graffiti on the list. Make it more of a punchline. (Editors needed everywhere.)

One of my favorites is the famous...

GOD IS DEAD --Nietzsche

Nietzsche is dead --God

--Mike]

I was having a similar discussion just last night with a friend who has been a professional musician (guitar) for the last 40 years or so. His comment was the quality of guitar playing has gotten exponentially better in the last 10 - 20 years.

Not a male but someone I just found out about is Molly Tuttle. Young and extraordinarily talented. I can't recommend this you tube highly enough. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awFeDMNiKX4

[She's wonderful. Thanks for that. --Mike]

Some notable omissions of influential and important guitarists, particularly classical guitarists.

Los Romeros: Celedonio, Pepe, Angel and Celin, known worldwide as "The Royal Family of the Guitar"

Celedonio Romero (who, BTW, fathereed and trained Pepe, Angel, and Celin Romero)

This family was so important to the classical guitar that the Joaquin Rodrigo composed Concerto de Andaluz for them.

Pepe Romero

Carlos Montoya

Narciso de Yepes

Also these jazz giants are missing:

Kenny Burrell (Midnight Blue is a great example of his work)

Grant Green (check out Idle Moments, it's a masterpiece).

John Scofield.

Love the reference to BDR! I cannot imagine that anyone even listens to those type of stations any more, we were making fun of them back in the 80's, and they still exist! I left my apartment last week, and there were two difference construction crews working on both sides of it, both listening to one each of the last two bad "hair rock" stations in my town! Horrific cacophony!

I think you can tell the relative sophistication of the city you live in based on how many of these dinosaurs still broadcast in your town! I said years ago, whatever you think of Fleetwood Mac (which I HATE), the fact that they're played virtually hourly on these BDR stations every single day, and that the "air" residuals probably go inordinately to this band at the expense of true innovators today...well, sheesh!

I'm 66, and I haven't listened to any radio stations but, jazz, college radio, or NPR in over 40 years!

Yes, Richard Thompson, how did I forget him? The version of 'don't tempt me' on, I think, 'More Guitar' is work of genius (although I think there must be an older one as the dates make no sense otherwise).

About G.O.A.T. All time? Really? All time includes the future, so at best the list includes only the greatest of the past and present. And there's the bias that comes from living now. Ask any teenager who the 10 greatest musicians of all time are, and I'd be surprised if Bach makes it onto any of their lists. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, ... of making many lists there is no end... Still, it's interesting to see the lists, and fun to argue over them.

GLAD TO SEE LEO KOTTKE MADE IT IN THE COMMENTS! Herd to beat on a 12-string. And he writes a lot of his own work.

Tommy Emmanuel.

One of several Chet thought were "certifiable."

My list of one includes Mike Bloomfield. Start with Like a Rolling Stone and the incredible East-West on the second Paul Butterfield album.

Mike,

Definitely, as others have mentioned, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour, Prince and Al Di Meola belong on the list.

Knopfler and Gilmour can coax sounds from their guitars that few others seem to do.

Prince is a wild man on guitar and the young people reacting to his songs are shocked that he played guitar too.

And Al Di Meola is just "dawg nuts".

Plus, Al played with Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. Amazing musicians. Anyone not measuring up in that lineup would have been found out very quickly!

(I agree; this is a very U.S.-heavy list.)

Not sure about GOAT, but certainly talented and one that really threw me off as I had never imagined her as a guitar player, Charo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmNPXqG6ovg

I'd certainly bring up Tony Iommi for the list though (don't think he's been mentioned yet).

I saw the title of this post and immediately thought "here we go again - another list of great guitarists that probably doesn't contain a single classical player". I was really glad to see Segovia there!

As for a list of my own, here are twenty terrific classical guitarists that I have seen play live and would very happily see again! In no particular order:
Sean Shibe
Ana Vidovic
Julian Bream
John Williams
Roland Dyens
Marcin Dylla
Graham Anthony Devine
Margarita Escarpa
Amanda Cook
Laura Snowden
Craig Ogden
Gary Ryan
The Assad Duo
Xuefei Yang
The Vickers-Bovery duo
Berta Rojas
Roberto Aussel
David Russell
Nigel North
The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

I'm a bit late to the party but, I would add these 2 to any list of great guitarists.

Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. He does things I never knew a guitar could do. Look him up.

And the late Terry Kath, guitarist for Chicago. Even Jimi Hendrix said Terry was better then himself.

Hi Mike.

I won't presume to try to name the greatest guitarists ever, because I never saw Jimi, Stevie Ray, or Prince perform in person.

But I do know that the two best guitarists I've personally seen play aren't on your list and haven't been mentioned yet by your correspondents.

The first is Stanley Jordan. He's literally unlike anyone else; he plays in a style unique to him, and he can do things I've never seen anyone else do. Here's a show he did with Chet Atkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1okuO2wHhg

The second is (was) Danny Gatton. I saw him play live just a month before we lost him to suicide. He was shockingly, overpoweringly good - but not at all in a BDR way. Here's his ACL set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvP2for9pT4

You leave off Steve Howe from YES? Sacrilegious!

I am surprised that no one has mentioned LeRoy Purdy.

I like it. Only one person on your list that I didn’t know. Some are influential, but probably not great. I think that almost everyone that I would add has already been mentioned.

A dozen or two in the comments that I don’t know. I will be wandering around YouTube for the next week.

Many fine ones on your list. And many more in the comments. The memories alone make the list worthwhile.

DC101 !!! The GREASEMAN !!!

(Hadda say it. Sorry.)

Tommy Emmanuel and Steve Wariner deserve a look and listen.

To me a great guitarist is someone you can tell without seeing the liner notes. And to have a style that is so recognizable, that's guitar genius.

That includes:
Brian May of Queen
Mark Knoffler of Dire Straits
Jimmy Page of Led Zep
B.B. King
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (understated excellence)
and Prince because Prince!

Fun list.


Rodrigo y Gabriela

Jan Akkerman
David Gilmour
Jimi Hendrix

Just pointing out out a minor typo in the caption to that wonderful portrait of a young guitarist by Depression Era photographer, Arthur Rothstein.

The town he is in Weslaco, and not "Westlaco."

There are a few other photographs of him by Arthur Rothstein at the Library of Congress site and elsewhere on the internet.

The guitarist's name is Weldon Drake, and he was a member of a musical family in that town.

The only list worth looking at is David Letterman’s Top Ten List....

Richard Thompson is, in my opinion, by far the best living electric guitar player. Somebody on his website once asked him if he had ever worked with Neil Young. He replied in the negative saying that one of them was an ageing hippy with a curiously crippled guitar style and the other was ... Neil Young. I admire greatly Mr Young's songwriting, his guitar-playing not so much.

Duane Allman.

Regarding Richard Thompson, if you have the opportunity to see Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" on DVD make sure you watch the extras. They filmed the music recording session which was headed up by Thompson. The soundtrack was recorded in real time while viewing the film in the studio.

I'll leave you with this, Herzog said if he could be anyone else he wanted to be Richard Thompson.

I'm not sure that a list of 100 would be long enough to not leave someone deserving off the list. That is sort of the thing with lists, they are never quite long enough.

I want to add a couple of more great guitar players to the discussion, Jerry Reed, check out Jerry and Chet Atkins on You Tube. The look on Chet's face sometimes when Jerry plays will tell how good Jerry was. I have not seen Vince Gill mentioned, Vince is known for his great singing but he may be an even better guitar player than singer. The same goes for Glen Campbell, great singer, an even better guitar player. dkreithen mentioned his session work with LA studio musicians, but then he became famous for his singing.

dk also mentioned Tommy Tedesco as one of the LA studio musicians. Tommy was an incredible guitarist. There is a great documentary that can be found on You Tube about the LA Studio musicians in 60's, they were called the Wrecking Crew. When I saw the documentary I realized that they recorded most of the songs that became the sound track for my life in the 60's and 70's.

Sorry to be so late in posting about guitar players. I just wanted to get my two cents in. I also second the inclusion of Molly Tuttle in the discussion and also want to add Julian Lage and Martin Taylor to the ever growing list.

Sad that no one has brought up...
Roy Buchanan
Or..
Vicente Gomez!

At least on my list of favorite guitarist

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