Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Favorite Musicians Who Happen To Play Guitar

Having gotten lots of feedback on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," I thought I'd change things up a bit. Some readers pointed out that it's difficult, if not impossible, to rank guitarists because they all have different styles. It would be like saying orange is a better color than blue. Or Picasso is better than Van Gogh.

Whatever. I somewhat agree.

So I've decided to put together my own list. These are my favorite guitarists, some for their extreme virtuosity, some for their beautiful melodies, but all because I flat-out like their music.

  1. Eric Clapton
  2. Stevie Ray Vaughan
  3. Eddie Van Halen
  4. Slash
  5. Keith Urban
  6. Mark Knopfler
  7. Jimi Hendrix
  8. Jimmy Page
  9. Carlos Santana
  10. The Edge
#1 Eric Clapton is god. He is so versatile and his style matches my tastes very well. I love the blues and he has put out some great blues tunes. Slowhand, as he's known, has a long history of making great guitar music. He's an accomplished singer, too. His electric and acoustic work are unparalleled.

#2 Stevie Ray Vaughan was so much fun to watch. The blues exuded from every pore. When he played, you could feel it, you know? He had cool guitars, pretty guitars, beat-up guitars; he played different ones for different songs. The guy was a master. It's so sad that he died just as he was cleaning up.

#3 Eddie Van Halen rocks. His work by his namesake, Van Halen, is legendary. His foray into synthesizers kind of pissed me off and foreshadowed the downfall of this great rock band, but his ax work is great. There's nothing better than listening to the intro of "You Really Got Me" dialed up to 11.

#4 Guns 'n Roses' Slash may not be the fastest or the best guitarist around, but he made beautiful melodies with GnR ("Sweet Child O' Mine" comes immediately to mind). Some of the slickest work in the last 20 years has come from the hands of this master.

#5 Most readers will scoff at a country singer in this list. Don't trivialize this guy, though. Not only did he score Nicole Kidman, the dude can flat-out play guitar. I first saw Keith Urban in Monterey a few years back before he was anyone and he played his damned heart out. Keith can rock with the best of them! I'd love to see him play with Clapton or Knopfler.

#6 Mark Knopfler, once the lead in Dire Straits, is a well-rounded musician who's played with the best of them. His work is so smooth, it sometimes sounds like he's not quite human.

#7 Jimi Hendrix changed rock 'n roll forever. He mixed electric guitar, rock, and blues, with a lot of stagecraft, into a wonderful concoction that only he could master.

#8 Led Zeppelin's guitar lead, Jimmy Page, was one of the most influential rock guitarists to come out of the '60s. Like Hendrix, Page and company melded rock with the blues and made it their own.

#9 Carlos Santana does some of the most beautiful guitar work I've ever heard. He can make a six string play notes like nobody else. He's just so easy to listen to.

#10 The Edge from legendary rock band U2 is somewhat one-dimensional in his guitar work, at least from what I've heard (it's all been U2), but his body of work is so large and distinct that he deserves mention. I don't know anybody else who has a sound like his. There are some guitarists that, when you hear them play, even if it's a song unfamiliar to you, you just know it's them. The Edge is one of those guys. Like BB King, you just know when he straps on a guitar.

Now judging by my last post on the top guitarists of all time, I'm going to get a lot of flack for this list. But guess what? It's my list. And I didn't call it the "best guitarists of all time." I called it "My Favorite Musicians Who Happen To Play Guitar" so I feel justified in putting each of the above guys on the list.

After all, I like listening to them and isn't that what music is all about?


Ryan DeRamos said...

Awesome list! Sometime in the early-mid 70s, a young The Edge must've mistakenly bought a delay pedal while his peers bought distortion boxes. He's either the first to use or to popularize that ambient guitar sound, and everyone else who uses a delay pedal would essentially sound like The Edge. It would be hard to not sound like him.

billspaced said...

thanks for the support!!! And I love the The Edge. Take a look at my new playlist at the bottom of this post.

Anonymous said...

great list!! I really love everyone on here- we have such similar tastes. I just found this new musician called Eric Solomon and he is amazing- you should try him out you might like him !

billspaced said...

@Ryan, funny you should say that! A few weeks ago I went to the county fair and saw Terri Clark (a country musician), whose lead guitarist did a frighteningly perfect version of a U2 song (can't remember the song) and I was amazed. But now, after reading your comment again, maybe it's not so hard...:)

@Anonymous, I'll check it out. Is he on iTunes or Napster or Amazon? I guess I could search, but damn, I'm lazy today!