Ultimate Guitar Awards 2012

In our first ever annual awards ceremony, we pay tribute to the best bands, people and music of 2012.

Ultimate Guitar

The official Ultimate Guitar Awards for 2012 are here!

For the past two weeks the UG community has been voting in a range of categories to help separate the great from the good.

First of all, we want to thank all of you for taking part. We've been sifting through thousands of replies, but the results are in and we can finally announce the winners.

This is our first major annual award ceremony, so your feedback (and usual hilarious banter) is welcome in the comments.

Band of the Year: Rush

Rush have had a storming year, from start to finish. By March they had been honored with the Governor General's Performing Arts Award from the government in their native Canada, which guitarist Alex Lifeson said was "the highest accolade" an artist can get in the country. Shortly after, they won the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award at the Revolver Golden Gods ceremony. Pretty impressive - that's nearly as awesome as winning a UG award!

Their 20th album "Clockwork Angels" was released in June and debuted at number 1 in the Canadian album chart. Our reviewer awarded it 9/10, and called it one of the best albums of the year thanks to "riff after memorable riff".

Rush would be probably content with this much success already, but then the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame finally found room after ignoring them for a decade. The band commented that it was just a popularity contest - and ironically proved themselves right when they eventually led the fan vote.

As members of Rush turn 60, they're inevitably getting closer to retirement, as Alex Lifeson discussed in October. "We've had a great run, we've left a great legacy that we're proud of, and who knows what will come after that?" he said. But he says fans shouldn't worry: "I think my fingers will still work for a little while longer."

Hear "Headlong Flight" from the new Rush album "Clockwork Angels" here:

Album of the Year: Periphery "II: This Time It's Personal"

With a storming 22% of the vote, Periphery were way ahead of the competition in winning Album of the Year thanks to a campaign on Facebook.

In the interests of disclosure, we should note that in this category we experimented with a poll plugin, which may have led to multiple votes being cast. But any band could have benefited from that, so who cares?

This album is absolutely nuts - if you haven't heard it, check out the sample track below. It also features guitar solos from axesmiths like John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

Hear the lead single "Make Total Destroy" from the Periphery album "II: This Time It's Personal" here:

Commiserations to Billy Talent with "Dead Silence" who came in a close second place.

Guitarist of the Year: Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

Tony Iommi is such a legend that he'd probably win a vote for guitarist of the century.

He's been busy writing and recording tracks for the hotly-anticipated Black Sabbath album, which is well underway with producer Rick Rubin.

But all the while, Tony has been working on it with the burden of his cancer diagnosis in January. It turned out he has lymphoma which affects cells related to the immune system, which meant Black Sabbath had to re-arrange a tonne of new live appearances without him.

By all accounts his treatment has been going well thanks to an early diagnosis. Keep strong Tony, we're all rooting for you.

Meanwhile, we want to give a shoutout to UG user Slackerbitch who managed to come second in the vote for Best Guitarist. Dude, whoever you are, consider yourself an official runner-up!

Person of the Year: Dave Grohl

Everyone knows Dave Grohl is one of the coolest guys in rock, and in 2012 he did plenty to remind us why.

Besides relentless touring with the Foo Fighters, he teamed up with Queen Of The Stone Age as a drummer on their forthcoming album. He was great on 2004's "Songs For The Deaf", so we can't wait to hear his return.

Grohl's campaign for real music continued with the production of "Sound City: From Real To Reel", telling the story of the legendary Sound City recording studio. Last week Dave made a point of reaching out to everyone who likes to rock and called on them to help change the world with real music. Right on, brother.

Dave doesn't do all this for the awards, but he keeps winning them anyway. This year he's been inducted to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, and was honored by his hometown of Warren, Ohio with the biggest pair of drumsticks in the world. Seriously, they weighed 900-pounds.

See the trailer for the Sound City documentary directed by Dave Grohl:

Best Music Video: Tenacious D "Roadie"

Tenacious D sure know how to record a great video.

This song pays tribute to the unsung heroes of live rock music: the roadies. Comedy actor Danny McBride plays the perfect roadie in this brilliantly crafted short story.

Watch the winning video "Roadie" by Tenacious D here:

Best Live Event: 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert

It'll be hard to top a lineup like this.

Some of the biggest rockstars in the world teamed up to perform a benefit concert after Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast of America.

12-12-12 wasn't just a lineup of awesome musicians - it was history in the making. Members of Nirvana teamed up with Paul McCartney for a new live jam that didn't disappoint; Roger Waters performed tracks from "The Wall"; The Who rocked the roof off as usual; The Rolling Stones jumped in as part of their 50th Anniversary tour, and many more artists took part to make for a memorable night of music that raised money for people who needed it most.

The event could have appeared forced and uncomfortable, but it proved to be a great night of entertainment. Congratulations to everyone involved - and remember to donate to the Sandy benefit cause if you enjoyed watching it too.

Watch some highlights of the 12-12-12 Sandy benefit concert here:

Best Comeback: Black Sabbath

2012 was the year of the reformed band. It seemed like all kinds of old metal and hardcore punk bands were getting back together over a matter of weeks, and the trend kept growing.

Some highlights: the new album from Soundgarden, the return of Van Halen, and the unexpected punk resurgence with Refused and At The Drive-In. Good times.

But Black Sabbath are one of the most influential acts of all time, and their return was a sign of great things to come. They're currently working on a new album, which is the most exciting thing to happen to metal since welding was invented.

Of course, the drama surrounding drummer Bill Ward's exclusion from the reunion over a contractual dispute was a tragedy to see furing the first half of the year. Fans would love to see Bill as part of their modern legacy, but the band couldn't reach an agreement over his fee and Bill took the dispute online, which in hindsight, might have made matters worse.

But whatever the results, we're hopefully that the new record will be a timeless classic anyway. Let's hope they see more live action in 2013.

Biggest Drama Of 2012: Randy Blythe Manslaughter Case

When Lamb Of God went to tour the Czech Republic in June, they had no idea singer Randy Blythe would be arrested and charged with manslaughter.

The story goes back two year to when a fan sustained an injury at one of their gigs in Prague. Blythe was accused of causing the injury, though he denies it, and the evidence remains under scrutiny.

The band have been working to raise money for his legal fees, and Blythe has acted in dignity while responding to the accusations. The case continues in 2013, when there may be more twists and turns before this drama has fully played out.

Other notable dramas in 2012 were Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong having a "breakdown" on stage and going to rehab, the Guns N' Roses soap opera in the lead up to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction, and the Baroness bus crash.

WTF of the Year: Rammstein Dildos

In our Most Ridiculous Merch roundup, this entry stood out (no pun intended):

That's right, a set of Rammstein dildos. What the f--k indeed. Moving on...

Best New Act: Art By Numbers

There were some awesome entries to this category (Skyharbor, Alabama Shakes, and the mighty Tame Impala), but it was great to see a genuinely up-and-coming band win out.

Art By Numbers are a young progressive metal band with a jazzy edge that we really like. We heard their debut album which launched this year, and there's a lot of impressive work on there. Congratulations, you're the first winners of our Best New Act award!

Hear the full Art By Numbers debut album "Reticence: The Musical" here:

Here's a video of their guitarists Victor Corral and Dustin Georgeson which is worth seeing too:

Awesome work guys, keep us updated on everything!


That's the end of the first ever Ultimate Guitar Awards.

Did you like it? Send us your feedback in the comments, and let us know who you would give the awards.

167 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Rammstein Dildo. Perfect Christmas gift for the missus. She's a huge fan.
    You married a fan? And you're buying it dildos?
    Those new guys are talanted, but could they play Enter Sandman?
    I played that riff by accident the other day, and I'm not a good guitarist.
    I assume so. Their song structure is better than anything Metallica has done recently.
    Enter Sandman was made over 20 years ago, I don't think that's 'recently'. It's also the most difficult solo of all time, due to Kirk's intense WAHWAHWAHWAHWAH
    I wouldn't call it the most difficult solo of all time. Trust me, there are plenty of guitar solos out there that make Enter Sandman's solo look like child's play. Not saying the solo sucks or anything, but it's not the most difficult.
    It's amazing that Rush are still relevant in 2012. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if they remain relevant in 2112.
    We should do a user of the year, and of course I should win for suggesting it.
    Last year I remember UG putting up their favorite user comments of the year. I was looking forward to seeing them this year.
    I'm really glad Rush won band of the year, and Tony won guitarist of the year. It's been an interesting year in rock music, several bands have come up with new stuff and many others have reformed. I honestly think it's a pretty fair list UG made here.
    Soundgarden should be somewhere on this list
    Soundgarden should have won. Fantastic new album, great set at Download, announced (and immediately sold out) a U.S. Tour. Taking nothing away from Black Sabbath though. Merry New Year to all!
    In comparison to their earlier albums, the new Soundgarden album wasn't that great. It was hardly worth being album of the year. And I really like Soundgarden.
    I disagree. I will admit, as a big fan of the band, it took me a couple listens to get into every song, but overall, for me anyway, it ranks right up there with Badmotorfinger and Superunknown. Maybe not as good, but I really dig it.
    Wow, I did not expect to like Art by Numbers as much as I did. Just listened to the whole album and it was amazing.I'm not usually a fan of that genre but...wow. Looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. Also, Rush. Fuck yes.
    Gee Halen
    There should be a separate Dave Mustaine section. "Most ridiculous Dave Mustaine comment of the year" or something.
    Congratulations to Tony Iommi. First he overcame his fingertip injury and this year refused to bow down to cancer. This man doesn't give up when so many others would. Tony is a true inspiration!
    Happy there's no Muse in here..
    muse is amazing and their new album is inspiringly exploratory. they show fantastic skill, mastery of their instrument, an aptitude for all aspects of the art and the performance of the art. and that madness song is just like a bealtes love tune from the 60s but a synthesized robot love making version (and holy shit it picks up at the end, it would sound nasty as a melodic metal tune). it sounds amazing and the whole 2nd law album has a lot of good quality in the lyrics, its just different. madness is a new attempt at old music. i guess you could not like it if you are content with the same stuff all the time
    Couldn't agree more, Panic Station was kickass and so was Supremacy then for all the robots theres follow me, madness, and the 2nd law, and a couple ballads and a rock song. Then theres Survival.....simply epic. There's something for everybody on this album and it covers a lot of ground and shows how rockers can go into other genres successfully, like Zeppelin or Queen and not like Kern. I still don't understand how people can not like Muse. In my opinion the are one of the best, if not the best, band of the last ten years and now because the music is diverse and live, the shows put people in awe, and they are still together.
    I'm a muse fan but I'm not a big fan of 2nd law or resistance in fact, I have no idea why they seem more popular now. If you want to listen to muse at their best Origin of symmetry, absolution and Black holes and revelations.
    And I don't blame anybody for thinking so because they have changed so much and they lose fans but for me I just like music of any sort. So the first time I heard micro cuts I was amazed but I was equally amazed the first time i heard undisclosed desires. Also I didn't pay any attention to them until this year so that probably has something to do with it.
    Really it's not a big surprise why they're so popular now. They've been on a steady and rapid increase in popularity their entire career. Not many bands tour arenas by their 2nd album.
    Knights of Cydonia's intro was the first riff I ever played. It may have been accidental, but I never stopped... GAWD, Muse is incredible!
    @TMoreau15: 2nd Law was terrible, imho. And you sound like a fanboy. Same stuff? No, not content with that; but I really dislike the direction Muse has gone.