Rolling Stone Magazine rated Jimi Hendrix as Greatest Guitarist of All Time. This has, for a variety of reasons, bothered me. I don’t mean it’s bothered me just a little, I mean it’s driven me to make passionate rants in front of otherwise nice people.
The truth of the matter is that Jimi was not the great guitarist that people seem to credit him as being. Don’t get me wrong. Jimi was a great artist and his contribution to music isn’t to be taken lightly. He’s just not even remotely the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. He wasn’t even the greatest guitarist of his era.
It’s from this that I ended up having a conversation with a fella named @cynicaloldfart and they were pretty smart about it. They asked me who I felt was the best guitarist – and I had an immediate answer. (That answer is Les Paul, by the way. Without him, we’d still be banging proverbial rocks together and strumming on fig leaves.)
This led to a second question – who else? Then, it led to the idea that I should compile a list of guitarists who are better than Hendrix. This seemed remarkably cathartic and I’ve now decided to begin publishing this list. Suffice to say, I’ve quite a few folks on that list – all of whom are better than Hendrix ever dreamed of being.
Running with his question, I’ve decided to compile a list of guitarists that are really very good and deserving of accolades. I’ve taken a scholastic approach to this, though it’s not so refined as to ever be suitable for publication in an academic journal. Instead, it’s meant to give us a moment of healing, a time when we can feel better about the injustices that have been done to us – like naming Hendrix as the greatest guitarist of all time.
I present the very first in what’s a fairly long list of guitarists who are greater than Hendrix. I will attempt to quantify the unquantifiable and to justify each selection. I highly encourage people to respond and let me know if you’d like a new guitarist featured, one that you think is better than Hendrix ever was. I, of course, will decide if you’re suggestion has merit and will consider it for inclusion on the list.
There is no guarantee about the length of the list (I currently have a dozen to get us started) or the regularity with which I’ll post. I’ll aim to get a new guitarist added to the list, one each week, and we’ll see where it goes from there.
Without further ado, I present to you the start of the list and our first guitarist greater than Hendrix ever thought of being:
#1 Les Paul
Already mentioned, the #1 spot goes to Les Paul, obviously. This is undebatable. If it wasn’t for him, we’d probably still be banging bones on hollowed out logs and living in caves. I’m only slightly exaggerating.
Les Paul gets credit for things he didn’t technically invent and gets no credit for the things he did invent. The world is very confused about Les, and that’s pretty understandable. Take a look at this link:
Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait. Are you done? Well, now you can start to see why Les Paul holds the number one spot. But, it takes more than innovation to hold the number one position on this list. Let’s take a moment and examine the musical talent that cements his position as the guitarist of the century.
In 1948, Les was involved in a horrible car accident. He was faced with a life of pain – or they could amputate his arm. Instead of having his arm amputated, he chose to have the doctors fuse his arm into a position. That’s metal.
Mary Ford, his wife, was an excellent guitarist in her own right – but not quite good enough to make it to this list. You can read more about her here:
Here’s a link about the relationship of Les Paul and Mary Ford, from a company known as Gibson:
Wait, did I say Gibson? I did! For those of you who aren’t actually guitar players, the guitar that you see Slash play? Yeah, that’s a Gibson – and it bears the name “Les Paul.”
Here’s Mary singing and Les playing their song, How High the Moon:
I could go on, but I just encourage my dear reader to click on the available links and learn why Les Paul is the actual Guitarist of the Century. Fuck Rolling Stone and their propagation of idiocy.
Oh, did I mention that Mary was a fine guitarist in her own right? I did! Here, let me show you an example of her rocking that guitar like she owns it:
So, instead of boring you with the endless praise, I’ll leave you with the above and offer you one additional link – which is his son talking a bit about his dad’s new sound and some great footage:
And so we begin on our journey of discovery. Each week, I’ll showcase a guitarist who is better than Hendrix ever dreamed about being. Each week, I’ll give you the tools to determine quality over popularity.
After this week, it gets really tough to put them into any particular order. I’ll still number them, but they are all so very good that It’s not really possible to decide who is better. One thing you can be assured of is that each one will be better than Jimi ever was.