From the Archives: 30 Greatest R&R Guitarists (circa 1980)

How much have about 30 years altered this list that was put together by Dave Marsh in the Book of Rock Lists? We have a few guitarists on the site, so I’m interested to see what they think.

Mickey Baker

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Chuck Berry
3. Mickey “Guitar” Baker (Mickey and Sylvia, sessions)

Steve Cropper


4. James Burton (Elvis)
5. Pete Townshend
6. Keith Richards
7. Scotty Moore (Elvis)
8. Steve Cropper (Booker T. and the MGs)
9. Link Wray
10. Eric Clapton

Other notables when the list was published in 1980/81: Eddie Van Halen (13), Duane Allman (17), Jimmy Page (22), Mick Jones (24), Steve Jones (25), Bruce Springsteen (29).

As much as I love Springsteen and his guitar playing, I wouldn’t have him on this list. I’d put Prince in the top 30, though I don’t know where. I’d have Mick Taylor (29) higher. I’d have Marc Bolan and Mick Ronson on the list. Jimmy Page would be in my top 10 because he wrote so many great riffs but I know that a lot of guitar players think he’s sloppy. I can’t hear it though. I think Tom Morello belongs on the list after seeing him with Springsteen.

I remember talking to Moyer years ago about guitarists and I questioned the extent that leads should influence the rankings and he said that there isn’t a great guitarists who didn’t play great leads. I countered with Keith Richards and Steve had to admit that I had him there. Of course, Richards played, and wrote, many of the greatest riffs in rock history.

7 thoughts on “From the Archives: 30 Greatest R&R Guitarists (circa 1980)

  1. Nice. I agree with you on Prince, Mike, and the Boss (Lofgrin is a better guitar player, though I don’t think he was in the band when the list was published. Still, he already had a rep).

    But, it is unconscionable if Richard Thompson is not on that list. He had certainly gained a major rep as an axeman with both Fairport Convention, and then via his work with Linda by then.

    Least Townshend is up there.

  2. I would like to know how these lists are compiled. I am happy to see James Burton and Mickey Baker, but why Mickey ranks 3rd is a headscratcher. James Burton did more with Ricky Nelson; he probably did stuff with Elvis too but Scotty Moore was the guy on most of Elvis’ early stuff. I dunno, it’s not a competition. I do know that Phil Manzanera has made my hair stand up more than any other guitar player.

  3. The list seems really dated to me. Jimmy Page at only 22? That’s a joke. Where’s James Williamson? Nowhere. That’s a joke. (I still have my original copy of this book from way back when.)

  4. I’m late to this party, but wanted to chime in – Prince didn’t really begin playing guitar driven tracks until 1982.

    Michael Schenker is the #1 guitarist for me.

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