Alan Friedman Home


I was on a business trip in southern California when a fellow guitar-playing friend asked me if I'd seen the lastest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine which contained their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" (issue #931, published September 18, 2003). I replied I hadn't seen it. He told me Jimi Hendrix was #1 (wow, that was hard to figure out), and then he preceded to recall who was on the list and their respective numerical rating. I remember initially laughing at some of the moronic entries. But slowly my laughter turned to agitation, then to anger and finally I became enraged at the absence of so many of my favorite guitar players. But it was only upon learning that Eddie Van Halen was ranked #70 and Jack White of the White Stripes landed at #17 (apparently the result of some drug-induced hallucination by the Rolling Stone compiler of this list) that I knew something had to be done to set the record straight.

Make no mistake, there was no way I was going to idly stand by and watch the minds of our musically-impressionable youth become polluted by the notion that any group with a number (Sum 41, Blink 182, 311) is somehow more hip than, let's say, James Gang, JoJo Gunne or Johnny Winter And...for God's sake, we all know "hip" groups start with the letter "J". This brainwashing had to be stopped, and I became the new self-appointed Neo (a.k.a. "the one") to rid the world of the promulgation of faulty guitarology. Besides, if we're going to brainwash our kids, let's at least do it with some entries from an era when guitar music was truly great. And so it became my personal mission to furnish the world with a corrected list of the truly great guitar players of our time.

What gives me the right to claim my list better defines the greatest guitar players of all time, you ask? Three things: (1) I've been listening to all kinds of music for 40 years, (2) I've been playing guitar to all kinds of music for 40 years, and (3) I paid for this friggin' website. So take a flying leap off your toneless solid-state guitar amp and recognize that B.B. King says more with one note than Yngwie could ever say with a thousand. Ah yes, the first punch has been thrown.

As fun as it was compiling this new and improved list, I wanted to make sure I kept my personal opinions a distant second from the cold hard facts that proved "these" names truly are the great guitarists of all time. Although I failed miserably, I at least didn't sink to the despicable depths of Rolling Stone. RS magazine hasn't a clue; and how could they? Their list merely proved they're more interested in creating controversy to sell their magazine than admitting that 95% of the real "all time greatest guitarists" are 30+ years older than their target audience. There may be a place for capitalism, but it ain't here - this page is about truth (or at least "my version" of the truth).

So, do I know the names of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time? No. Do I know the names of the greatest classical guitarists of all time? No. Do I know names of the greatest klezmer guitarists of all time? Other than Moishe Lipshitz, no. But I know "rock" and rock's famous Daddy, the "blues". Accordingly, it's within this base of musical knowledge that I stake my claim and defend my list of the 100 greatest guitar players forever and always...or until someone buys me off with $10,000 of hush money.

So, to all my fellow 6-string plank-spankin' brothers and sisters who grew up in the 60's, started playing guitar in the 70's while their school grades slipped into the 50's, kept rocking in the 80's despite a noticeable loss in hearing, kept rocking in the 90's despite a noticeable loss of hair, and have welcomed the new millenium by vomitting all over their kid's White Stripes CD, I hereby present Alan Friedman's definitive list of "The 100 Greatest "Rock" Guitar Players of All Time". If you've got half a brain and can remember when rock guitar was great, you'll love this timely act of revenge against the boneheads at Rolling Stones...and if for some unknown reason you don't like my list, please feel free to lean forward amd kiss my over-40, fat hairy Jewish ass. In the immortal words of Erik Casillas of Carlsbad, CA, who had the balls to write in to RS Magazine within days after their list was published, "The only white stripes that should have been mentioned were the ones on Van Halen's Kramer". F**king-A right, Eric.

ONE LAST IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you who know me, I know you expect to see Steve Lukather in the #1 slot on my list with his name repeated 99 times. While this instinctively is my first inclination (as "Luke" will always be my favorite guitar player by a long shot), I decided to take a more worldly approach and not fall into the same trap as the idiots at Rolling Stone. Instead, I took into account the time-tested innovative contributions of the very few guitar guitar players listed above him. Trust me, this wasn't an easy thing to do; in my heart, I believe Steve Lukather is the best guitar player alive today. It's just that the 3 above him were, well...never mind, you know what I mean.

Alan Friedman's List of 100 Rolling Stone's Moronic List
1. Jimi Hendrix 1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Jeff Beck 2. Duane Allman (Allman Brothers Band)
3. Eric Clapton (Cream) 3. B.B. King
4. Steve Lukather (Toto) 4. Eric Clapton
5. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) 5. Robert Johnson
6. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen) 6. Chuck Berry
7. George Harrison (The Beatles) 7. Stevie Ray Vaughan
8. Tommy Bolin 8. Ry Cooder
9. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) 9. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
10. B.B. King 10. Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
11. Johnny Winter 11. Kirk Hammett (Metallica)
12. Duane Allman (Allman Brothers Band) 12. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
13. Stevie Ray Vaughan 13. Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead)
14. Dann Huff (Giant) 14. Jeff Beck
15. Rick Derringer 15. Carlos Santana
16. Ronnie Montrose (Montrose) 16. Johnny Ramone (The Ramones)
17. Leslie West (Mountain) 17. Jack White (the White Stripes)
18. Joe Walsh (James Gang) 18. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
19. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) 19. Richard Thompson
20. Larry Carlton 20. James Burton
21. Carlos Santana (Santana) 21. George Harrison (The Beatles)
22. John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra) 22. Mike Bloomfield
23. Michael Landau 23. Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band)
24. Robben Ford 24. The Edge (U2)
25. Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy 25. Freddy King
26. Brian Setzer (stray Cats) 26. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)
27. Kerry Livgren (Kansas) 27. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
28. Trevor Rabin (Yes) 28. Stephen Stills
29. Steve Vai 29. Ron Asheton (The Stooges)
30. Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band) 30. Buddy Guy
31. Steve Morse (Dixie Dreggs) 31. Dick Dale
32. Brian May (Queen) 32. John Cipollina (Quicksilver Messenger Svc)
33. Albert Lee 33. Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)
34. Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech) 34. Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
35. Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) 35. John Fahey
36. Pat Thrall (Pat Travers Band) 36. Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the MG's)
37. Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake) 37. Bo Diddley
38. Joe Satriani 38. Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac)
39. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) 39. Brian May (Queen)
40. Frank Zappa 40. John Fogerty (C.C.R.)
41. Terry Kath (Chicago) 41. Clarence White (The Byrds)
42. Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) 42. Robert Fripp (King Crimson)
43. Jeff Healey 43. Eddie Hazel (Funkadelic)
44. Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) 44. Scotty Moore
45. Pat Simmonds (Doobie Brothers) 45. Frank Zappa
46. Neil Schon (Journey) 46. Les Paul
47. Tim McCarty (Cactus) 47. T-Bone Walker
48. Keith Scott (Bryan Adams) 48. Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
49. Danny Johnson (Derringer) 49. John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
50. Walter Becker (Steely Dan) 50. Pete Townshend (The Who)
51. Neil Geraldo (Pat Benatar) 51. Paul Kossoff (Free)
52. Brad Gillis (Nightranger) 52. Lou Reed
53. Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) 53. Mickey Baker
54. Rory Gallagher 54. Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane)
55. Brent Mason 55. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple)
56. Tim Pierce 56. Tom Verlaine (Television)
57. Ray Gomez 57. Roy Buchanan
58. Daryl Steurmer (Phil Collins) 58. Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers Band)
59. Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) 59. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
60. Steve Farris (Mr. Mister) 60. Ed O'Brien (Radiohead)
61. Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) 61. Ike Turner
62. Pat Travers 62. Zoot Horn Rollo (The Magic Band)
63. Floyd Radford (Johnny Winter) 63. Danny Gatton
64. Tom Johnston (Doobie Brothers) 64. Mick Ronson (David Bowie)
65. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne) 65. Hubert Sumlin
66. Ty Tabor (King's X) 66. Vernon Reid (Living Colour)
67. Elliot Easton (The Cars) 67. Link Wray
68. Peter Frampton (Humble Pie) 68. Jerry Miller (Moby Grape)
69. Davey Johnstone (Elton John) 69. Steve Howe (Yes)
70. Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) 70. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
71. Eric Johnson 71. Lightnin' Hopkins
72. Jeff Watson (Nightranger) 72. Joni Mitchell
73. Tommy Shaw (Styx) 73. Trey Anastasio (Phish)
74. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) 74. Johnny Winter
75. Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones) 75. Adam Jones (Tool)
76. Jack Pierson (Allman Brothers Band) 76. Ali Farka Toure
77. Joe Perry (Aerosmith) 77. Henry Vestine (Canned Heat)
78. Mark Farner (Grand Funk) 78. Robbie Robertson (The Band)
79. Albert King 79. Cliff Gallup (The Blue Caps)
80. Freddy King 80. Robert Quine (The Voidoids)
81. Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson) 81. Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band)
82. Nancy Wilson (Heart) 82. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
83. Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) 83. Neil Young
84. James Young (Styx) 84. Eddie Cochran
85. Rod "The Bottle" Price (Foghat) 85. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
86. Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers Band) 86. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)
87. Pete Townshend (The Who) 87. Joan Jett (The Runaways)
88. Steve Howe (Yes) 88. Dave Davies (The Kinks)
89. Bonnie Raitt 89. D. Boon (The Minutemen)
90. John Fogerty (C.C.R.) 90. Glen Buxton (Alice Cooper)
91. Steve Gaines (Lynyrd Skynyrd) 91. Robby Krieger (The Doors)
92. Robin Trower 92. Fred "Sonic" Smith (The MC5)
93. David Lindley (Jackson Browne) 93. Wayne Kramer (The MC5)
94. Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) 94. Bert Jansch
95. Angus Young (AC/DC) 95. Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine)
96. Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) 96. Angus Young (AC/DC)
97. Stephen Stills (CSN&Y) 97. Robert Randolph
98. Mick Ralphs (Bad Company) 98. Leigh Stephens (Blue Cheer)
99. The Edge (U2) 99. Greg Ginn (Black Flag)
100. Robert Randolph 100. Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)