By now, you know the drill. I’m not a huge fan of the accolades that are showered on Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was a fine artist and a good guitarist – but I don’t believe he’s the greatest.
I dare say that I’m qualified to opine on this matter. Not only that, I intend to prove it. I’ve already shared two guitarists that I think are far more deserving of the title and praise.
Having said that, it’s time to admit that this is rapidly becoming a list of great guitarists. The jumping off point was guitarists better than Hendrix, but the truth is that some guitarists are just so good, and so unique, that it’s hard to quantify them and say one is better than the other.
So, this is more-or-less just a list of great guitarists, though I try to keep some sort of air of priorities and ranking. I try to put them in some sort of order, but we could just as easily argue for different placement locations on this list.
Like always, if you have any comments or complaints, please feel free to voice them. If you want to see your favorite artist featured, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if they’re good enough for inclusion the list. If you want to argue, you should be ready to prove that you’re skilled enough in the art to qualify your opinion. This isn’t a question of who you prefer, it’s about technical mastering of their instruments.
So, without further ado, I present to you the third entry in our list of guitarists who are better than Jimi Hendrix:
#3 Eric Clapton
How a white man from England manages to play the blues as sweet as Eric Clapton, I don’t actually know. I can only assume it’s because of a pact with some sort of demonic being. The strange thing is, he manages to do it with a style that’s unusual and all its own. If you watch Clapton play, it seems almost effortless and with remarkable foresight.
A good musician plays a bit like a chess player – he’s planning a dozen steps ahead. Clapton appears to have moved beyond that point and he plays so many steps ahead that he’s actually thinking about tomorrow’s lunch. He’s already played the song in his head – and the rest of the set. He’s in no hurry and his flawless understanding of music theory means they call him Slowhand. That’s the story that I’m sticking with – though there’s a much more mundane tale.
Clapton told his official biographer, Ray Coleman, in the mid-80s that “My nickname of ‘Slowhand’ came from Giorgio Gomelsky. He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into ‘Slowhand’ as a play on words.”
That story, while possible true, is patently absurd. Eric Clapton is not a fast player (there are some fast players on this list – Clapton is not one of them), and that’s okay. Being a great guitarist doesn’t require one to play quickly – it requires one to play well. This list is about those who have truly mastered their instrument.
This is a good time to remind you that this is both a list of the greatest guitarists to walk the planet AND it’s a list of people who are more deserving of the title Guitarist of the Century than one Mr. Jimi Hendrix was. If speed were a valid criteria for determining greatness, then another valid criteria would have been playing with feedback while tripping balls. Frankly, if playing while tripping balls were the criteria, then Jimi most certainly would be worthy of the award.
By the way, if you think speed indicates quality, you’re not fit to opine. Speed does have a quality value, but it’s nowhere near the top. You’ll note, if you’re an attentive person, I don’t speculate about qualities of bowlers, bowling shoes, or about bowling ball manufacturers. I know the limits of my abilities – I’m not qualified to opine about bowling. I am, however, qualified to opine about the very wrongness of Rolling Stone with regards to this award.
Here, click this to learn about Sir Eric Clapton.
Oh, yes… I forgot to mention, he’s a mother fuckin’ knight. Jimi ain’t got a knighthood. Want to know why he doesn’t have a knighthood? Because he’s not Mr. Fucking Slowhand Eric Clapton, that’s why. Let’s just see if we can find an example of Eric Clapton doing what he does best (namely playing guitar better than Jimi Hendrix):
Tears in Heaven:
Finally, Standing at the Crossroads, which is a documentary about Slowhand:
Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure exactly where to stick him on this list – but I knew he had to be near the top and absolutely needed to be on the list. I could have easily switched him with the person in the forth position.