Pathetic Rock Journalism at Rolling Stone

Just a quick note. I was looking at The Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Such exercises are silly, of course. For one thing: of all time? There is not a single classical guitarist on the list. There is no guitarist on the list from before 1930. But okay, I’ll play along. Certain things can be said even if there is great variety in type of music and style. Most of the people on the list were at least really good guitarists. But some things really stood out. In particular, George Harrison was listed at number 11. This is above at least 70 guitarists who are better than he was. He is right above Stevie Ray Vaughan. Can anyone seriously argue that Harrison was better than Vaughan in any way when it comes to playing the guitar? Frank Zappa makes the list down at number 22 when he was one of the most proficient rock guitarists ever. At least Duane Allman beat out Harrison at number 9, below many lesser (but great) guitarists. And Allman only beat Pete Townshend by one place. I like Townshend a lot, but he is not a great guitarist. Down at 71 is Robert Johnson, so clearly no thought is given to when an artist worked.

It is truly a pathetic excuse for rock journalism, even given the incredibly low expectations of the field.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Pathetic Rock Journalism at Rolling Stone

  1. Kurt Cobain…..Really? At least he was way down on the list but, there were others behind him that should have been before him. John Lennon (55) only one (1) slot below Joe Walsh (54)…..Please! Mark Knopfler at #44…..Huh? Randy Rhoads at #36, three (3) slots behind Prince…..are you kiddin’ me?!?! Johnny Ramone even on the list? Just like Cobain…..Really? Angus Young at #24??? Chet Atkins at #21…..BLASPHEMY!!! Yeah, the Geoarge Harrison/SRV thing…..Agreed…..WTF? I’m sorry, Jimi Hendrix at #1…..OMG…..influencial for his time, yes, #1…..NO!

    No mention, as one individual noted, of Joe Satriani. No Steve Vai. No Matteo Carcassi. No Andrés Segovia. No Frank Gambale. No Blind Blake. No Yngwie Malmsteen. No Michael Fath. No Christopher Parkening. No Leo Kottke. No Al DiMeola. No Alirio Diaz. No Gary Moore. No Vinnie Moore. No Charlie Byrd. I could go on and on…………

  2. @ThrashMikki – Yeah, I could have spent a week just ragging on that list. You made some excellent catches of people who didn’t even make the list.

    Rolling Stone is really bad about making these kinds of lists. They were also a pioneer of the 5-star system for album ratings. It is all so pathetic. How do you compare Kottke with Walsh?

    I think these lists would be better if they stuck with the philosophy that they were introducing people to new artists. Putting people like Lennon on the list is just pandering. I remember a similar list in something like "The Rolling Stone Book of Lists" that had George Harrison at #3! So it could be worse.

    Oh, one last thing since I seemed to have pissed off the whole world when I disparaged Moe Tucker, Lou Reed is on this list. Lou Reed! If he made it, where are Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter?

  3. Ahhh…..Kottke or Walsh? Not fair! Hmmmm…I quess maybe Kottke, but only because I have not had the priviledge of hearing Joe Walsh’s specturm of guitar talent. I think, in reality, he is most likely as good as Kottke, but without empirical evidence I cannot completely endorse Walsh. I really respect Walsh and appreciate his work. (I missed him when he came to Nashville…..opportunity lost.) Kottke is an acoustic master of polyphany. There are a lot of guitarist here in Nashville that remind me of both. The BEST musicians in Nashville aren’t mega-stars on the radio and at the CMA awards shows. They are standing on street corners or working in music shops around town. If they’re lucky, they are sessions players.

    George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) is another very proficient practicioner of polyphonic melodies. A lot of his work incorporates several "layers" of guitar work. I think he is a bit under-rated and should have made the RS list, as should have Zakk Wylde (Ozzy, Black Label Society) and Ronni Le Tekrø of TNT. But what do I know. I have to wonder how old these folks are at RS and if they have only a very narrow window of exposure to different eras, styles, and the parameters of their "listening experiences" to have left out so many great guitarists. I realize that, to have a "Top 100 List", you can only have 100 people and to narrow it down, even to the "top 100", is no easy task. Preferences…..preferences.

  4. @thrashMikki – Yeah, there’s an amazing amount of talent on the sidewalk. In general, I think people do what they do. You wouldn’t hire Kottke to lay down a metal guitar solo. I’m sure he could fake it but it isn’t his thing. Thus the whole exercise of this list is stupid.

    I just remembered Johnny Ramone. Certainly Greg Ginn and D. Boon outclassed him at everything he ever did. RS would be better off limiting the scope of their lists. Perhaps: "The 100 Greatest Speed Metal Guitarists We’ve Ever Heard Of." Of course, they’d probably put John Lennon on that list too.

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