I love lists. In fact, I think we all do. And, I used to love Rollingstone, having subscribed since my birthday in 1969 (I was 17, and as a subscription bonus, I got a copy of 1+1+1=3 by The Sir Douglas Quintet, and which I still posses) until about ten years ago when fashion and politics seemed to me more of the focal point of the magazine, as opposed to music.
And, that is ok, for the nature of existence is change. But, by a decade ago, I was becoming a good enough guitar player myself that I began subscribing to Guitar Player sort of just to drool over the gear, for I am a gearhead, but also because the magazine wrote about things I was more interested in than The New Kids on the Block.
Anyway, in 2011, on my birthday no less, Guitar Player’s Darrin Fox placed his list of the 50 greatest rhythm guitar players of all time. Mind you most of the guys on the list we would think of lead players, but I think Fox is looking more a the context of how the guitar, as a rhythm instrument, works with the bass and drums and whatever else to help create the groove.
Because, without a groove, a song is nothing.
But, the list–which is simply alphabetical avoiding any border skirmishes on rank–is so vastly different from Marsh’s, though virtually all the players on it were indeed playing in 1980. And, I personally think the list is a better indicator of actual musicianship than Marsh’s anyway.
And, while we see the names we would expect, like Keef and Steve Cropper, the spread from Maybelle Carter to Joao Gilberto to Tom Morello to Earl Slick to Malcolm Young, represents not just great players, but players whose style influenced the context of their career, band, orchestra, or all of the above.
Here is the link to the Top 50, with Fox’s reasoning for each player.