Rick Beato on Rolling Stone List

Popped up on my feed this morning. Rick Beato on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 250 Greatest Guitar Players of All Time. I always find these lists more of a popularity contest rather than a list of Great players. What do you guys think.


Well, they did move Clapton down from number 2 on their previous list (Top 100 Guitarists from 2011) to number 35 on this one. Given his unpopularity regarding his views on covid vaccines and the like, it does sort of make you wonder.

In looking at the list, it also seems the a lot of credit is given for innovation and influence, in addition to (instead of?) proficient playing. Folks like Mother Maybelle Carter (17) and Elizabeth Cotten (36) were influential and quirky (Cotten played her guitar upside-down, like Albert King). I don’t think they were particularly technically great players, though.

There are lots of “interesting” choices (and Beato talks about a few of them). I was surprised to see St. Vincent at #26. Higher than, for example, David Gilmour, Brian May, Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler (#96!), Derek Trucks, etc.

Also, Joni Mitchell went from #72 previously all the way up to to #9. I love Joni, but I don’t understand that ranking as a guitar player.

I agree. Both Joni and Neil Young are great singer/song writers that play guitar but I would classify either one as a great guitar player and not in the top 9( Joni) and 20 (Neil) of all times.

Tell you what, I just discovered Matteo Mancuso today, and that kid has gotta belong somewhere on that list. I was totally blown away listening to some YouTube tracks from his first album ‘Journey’.

LOL, I had to go back and edit my earlier reply. I read what you wrote, and literally thought he was ‘on the list’ :wink:

I can’t think of a Rolling Stone list that I have ever remotely agreed with.

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Cr@p, I didn’t make the list again. I will have to muddle along anyway. Could’ve at least got an honorable mention though. 83 youtube subscribers can’t all be wrong. :wink:


I hate to think what list I’d be on.

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Not surprising. Rolling Stone mag is now full of woke, uneducated, uncultured, butt hurt millenials, engaged in an endless circle jerk in their mediocre echo chamber…


Nailed it in one.

If everyone agreed with the list no one would talk about it…

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I think George Harrison would be greatly amazed to find that he outranks Clapton. I have just been rewatching the “Get Back” doco and he talked admiringly about Clapton and describes his playing as being on a whole different level to his own efforts.

I’ve never seen Beato so animated - that was a six-minute, non-stop rant (with good reason).

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… and noone can take this video down because of copyright claims :wink:


Interesting video, thanks for posting @stitch :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m not a fan of these “Greatest of all time”-lists at all, and I don’t pay any attention to them.

IMHO you just can’t compare art and rank players.

There are so many different (and incomparable) aspects that define the playing of a guitarist, e.g. genre, style, techniques, era, musical background, …

A “Greatest…”-list can only be the highly subjective list of one single person, influenced by personal preferences, taste, likes and dislikes, current popularity, zeitgeist and the number of guitar players this person actually knows. Well, who can possibly dare to say “I know all guitarists in the world of all time!” That’s ridiculous. :rofl:

Judging about art, claiming “X is better than Y” and publishing this in an “official” list is pretentious and arrogant (IMHO).

So for me such lists are just the annual attempt to sell copies or collect clicks.

I have my personal list of greatest guitar players deep down in my heart, but I won’t tell anyone :wink:


I was expecting to see a lot of folk I’ve not heard of, while I trawled through list, as Mr B had his well deserved rant. But there were so many folk I did know and just thought “WHAT”.
Good to see some of my all time favs but Joni Mitchel at No 9 and Robin Trower, hailed as the new Hendrix back in the day, no where to be seen. J H C what bunch of morons put this list together ? And someone tell these clowns that Maiden has 3 equally talented “lead” guitarist, all at the same level, Smith and Gers arguably equal to or better than Murray but hey lets chose the peeps who created the band. Anyway what do I know, never had time for RSM back in the day, it was just posh bog paper, give me Melody Maker or NME but stop the clock any time before 2k and … ok I’ll stop there. :angry:

I think these sorts of lists are fun. Of course they aren’t “official” or “definitive” in any way. I view them as something to get a conversation started or as a source of new info on players I don’t know. And sure, to see my faves ranked highly gives me some sort of satisfaction (why? I don’t know.)

Actually, after sort of dissing on Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) above, I checked out some videos of her and she can really play! (which I didn’t know). And I think I’ll check out that dude who was James Brown’s guitarist, whom I have never heard of.

I realize that Rolling Stone has a certain political slant, which may influence the list itself, and maybe that gets people worked up (in addition to what they may or may not agree with regarding the players). I guess that’s understandable.

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I was curious about the criteria they used and it is right there on the website.

In making the list, we tended to value heaviness over tastiness, feel over polish, invention over refinement, risk-takers and originators more than technicians. We also tended to give an edge to artists who channeled whatever gifts god gave them into great songs and game-changing albums, not just impressive playing.

So, not interested in technical ability. Game-changing albums are what is important. Which explains Joni at No.9.

Doesn’t this mean the list is actually “The 250 Greatest Musicians who used a Guitar”. :thinking:


That’s 66 more than me so you’re definitely up there in the running for next years lists :wink:

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Great analysis. Makes sense that RS didn’t want to create yet another list with the usual suspects.

And thanks for not automatically assuming the rankings were due to the magazine’s political coverage. :wink:


So you like this modern stuff then, Toby? My kids are convinced I don’t listen to anything recorded after 1985

Ah you see my daughter keeps me supplied with “new” rock bands, Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry for example but most if it gets duly bypassed. :rofl:

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