Top 10 Greatest Rock Guitarists Ever

artist: Misc date: 07/27/2012 category: wtf?
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Top 10 Greatest Rock Guitarists Ever
Who is the best rock guitarist of all time? UG readers placed their votes in our Wednesday question, which ended up with the biggest comment threads we've ever seen on this site. You had us in stitches laughing at some of the funnier replies, and there were plenty of great guitarist nominations too. We stacked up your votes and nominations, and as expected, you pulled off a definitive list of the greatest rock guitarists ever. There were a few surprise omissions - where is Slash? Steve Vai? Joe Satriani? How about Gary Moore or BB King? They deserve an honorable mention, but your votes say they don't make the cut. Consider it done! It's a serious list this week, but some of your joke entries were so funny that we decided to give them their own top 10 too. Check out our alternative list of Top 10 Rock Guitarists to see if your joke entry made the cut! For now, it's time to put your feet up, tune in to YouTube, and rock out.

10. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

The Iron Man is often credited with founding metal, but fate played a big part in defining his sound. An accident at a sheet metal factory on his last day of work resulted in Tony losing the tips of two fingers, and he almost gave up playing - but was inspired to return. Tony tuned his guitar strings down to relieve the tension on his fingers, but the resulting deep sound was so huge that it became a template for metal guitarists ever since.

9. Eric Clapton

How many people can say they've been inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame three times? No-one but Eric, who made it with Cream, The Yardbirds and as a solo artist. If you think that's good, he's also earned 17 Grammy awards and was honoured by the Queen of England for his services to music.

8. John Petrucci (Dream Theater)

If there were a chart for 'top 10 shredders', John would probably rank in every single place. He loves writing on a seven-string guitar to allow enough range for both heavy riffing and crazy solo runs up the fretboard, and even writes many lyrics for Dream Theater records. If you think some of his work sounds like the score for old Sega soundtracks, don't be surprised - he once scored two tracks for the Saturn game "Digital Pinball".

7. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)

Inspired by Eric Clapton, a young Eddie learned all the Cream solos note-for-note and went on to be one of the most exciting new rock talents in the late 1970s. Even Jimmy Page flagged him out as "dazzling". This video does a great job of showcasing the attitude and ability that made Van Halen a household name.

6. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

John is best known for his time in Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he's released twice as many solo albums and has collaborated with the likes of The Mars Volta and even breakcore artist Venetian Snares. But after first leaving RHCP in 1992, he battled drug addiction and lost all his teeth to a serious mouth infection. By 1998 he had recovered, and was invited back by Flea. "Nothing would make me happier in the world," he said.

5. Chuck Berry

Berry's career could have gone in a very different direction after his arrest for armed robbery in 1944. Instead, he set his life straight and became one of the founders of rock n' roll as we know it. Alright, he didn't quite set life straight he was sent back to prison several times for offences including tax evasion - but he was one of the first inductees to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on its opening in 1986, and continues to perform today at the grand age of 85.

4. Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)

Rhoads made his mark on metal history as a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, but met a tragic end in a plane crash in 1982. After a tour date in Tennessee, a pilot friend talked him into a short plane ride despite his fear of flying. Little did he know, the pilot was jacked up on cocaine and tried flying dangerously close to Ozzy's tour bus to freakout its inhabitants. On the third time they tried pulling this dangerous stunt, the left wing clipped the bus and sent the passengers to a fiery death. This video shows Ozzy hearing an old master recording of Rhoads jamming over the end of a song. Watch Ozzy's face at 0:55 for what could be one of the funniest moments in YouTube history.

3. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)

He might have a penchant for stealing blues riffs from poor defenceless musicians and passing them off as his own, but his ability can't be disputed. Whether he's wielding a pick or a violin bow, Page knows better than most how to make a guitar weep, scream and soar.

2. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

Few have achieved as many record sales as Gilmour has through Pink Floyd. His strikingly introspective writing style and expressive lead guitar solos help mark him as one of the best rock guitarists of all time, but his musicianship doesn't stop there. He's a dab hand at bass, keyboards, banjo, harmonica, drums, and even saxophone - but they're all just a footnote next to his timeless blues-driven guitar work.

1. Jimi Hendrix

Did you expect anything less? Thanks to your votes, Jimi Hendrix is officially the UG greatest rock guitarist ever. Jimi frequently tops similar lists in all corners of the media, and deservedly so. Where previous guitarists considered amp feedback a problem, Jimi instead chose to bend it to his will; where others favoured subtle guitar tones, Jimi cranked up the distortion and showed the world how expressive a driven guitar could be. Couple those skills with a wah-pedal and his mighty songwriting, and you've got a musician whose work will stand the test of time for generations.
Thanks to UG readers for placing their votes and helping us build the ultimate UG top 10 best rock guitarists of all time. Remember to check out our alternative list of Top 10 Rock Guitarists to see whether fictional legends like Bill & Ted, Marty McFly and Skwisgaar Skwigelf made the cut!
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