50 Great Guitarists, All Better Than Slash (In No Particular Order)–Part II

Check out Part I here.

6. Ian Williams

I’ve been blown away each time I’ve seen Ian Williams play, whether it was in the original monsters of crushing polyrhythmic madness, Don Caballero, the avant-weird hyperkinetic not-jazz of Storm & Stress, or in his current band Battles, where he taps the fretboard with his left hand and plays a keyboard with his right. On top of that, he’s a really nice guy.

Ian rocks “Atlas” live–

7. Prince

Prince is such an extraordinary performer and songwriter that his skills on the axe are often overlooked. The guy is awesome though, displaying a masterful command over his blistering, soul-stinging solos and tight riffage.

Prince shows Eric Clapton a better way–

8. Brian May

Brian May had to invent new instruments and equipment in order to translate the melodic heavy metal pop in his head. His triple-tracked leads, chugging rhythms, and ambient harmonics were certainly showy at times, but Queen was a showy band. Nothing wrong with that–it’s called glam music after all.

Brian May rips up a 10 minute solo from “Brighton Rock”–

9. Mick Ronson

Would we care about David Bowie today if Mick Ronson hadn’t been there to boost the one-time fairy-folk singer’s fey melodies and bizarro lyrics with some rocknroll oomph? Maybe, who knows–Bowie was (is) always adept at finding great people to work with (no fewer than three of Bowie’s guitar players will make this list). Besides working with Bowie and the perennially underrated Mott the Hoople, Ronson was always behind the scenes working with all the cool kids–Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Morrissey, etc.

Ronson tears up the solo from “Moonage Daydream” on the Ziggy Stardust tour–

10. Richard Thompson

After making five albums with British folkies Fairport Convention (including my faves Unhalfbricking and Liege and Lief) Richard Thompson set out down the solo path, recording some brilliant albums with his wife Linda, including the classic I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight. Although he’s best known for his distinctive folk-rock sound and wiry, spare solos, Thompson also made a significant contribution to the new, punk influenced music of the early eighties with his album Shoot Out the Lights–a masterpiece on par with Television’s Marquee Moon and almost as good as anything the Talking Heads ever did.

Check out “Wall of Death” from Shoot Out the Lights

13 thoughts on “50 Great Guitarists, All Better Than Slash (In No Particular Order)–Part II”

  1. Kudos on the Prince include.

    I have to wonder though, is Slash #51 in The List of Great Guitarists? He’d be in my top 51 on hair alone, though Prince’s process is pretty slick as well. I’d imagine Prince is also a better dancer too since Slash was hanging out with awful dancer Axl Rose (see his almost sideways goose-step from the Appetite for Destruction videos for examples).

    Ooh. Is George Benson on your list? I’ve seen him in concert and have about 15 of his albums. Breezin’ is so smooth it’s almost Criminal.

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  2. No. Slash is not 51; he isn’t 101 even. The whole genesis of this list dates back to an argument I had with some fellows at a get-together circa 2003 who attacked me when I suggested that I could name fifty guitarists superior to Slash.
    I didn’t consider Benson for this list. He’s a little too smooth for my taste (although I like his Abbey Road covers album).

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  3. Is there such a thing as “too smooth”? The Yacht Rockers might disagree, but that’s another conversation altogether.

    Smoothness be damned, George Benson is better than Slash for sure and probably most of the others on the list so far. At the same time I won’t claim to be able to come up with a list like this or even argue from a point of real knowledge since I can’t play guitar and even suck at Guitar Hero.

    I just know that Prince and George Benson are really awesome.

    Did you catch the Arbus interview with George Benson and Al Jarreau where Benson compared himself to Albert Einstein? Ego and brass at the same time.

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  4. Let’s not forget that Mick Ronson provided the snappy lead guitar on John Cougar Mellencamp’s seminal (heh) teen lust anthem from 1982, “Jack and Diane.”

    You know that guitar part! It’s playing in your head right now. That’s the ghost of Mick.

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  5. George Benson wasn’t always “smooth.” This guy played great jazz guitar. Most of the stuff I have with George Benson is him in a group. He was fantastic on this Freddie Hubbard record on CTI called “Straight Life” with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jack Dejohnette, and Joe Henderson. Post “On Broadway,” I don’t know much about him, but he was not always jazz-lite.

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  6. This is a dumb list. Slash is great, people talk shit bout him cuz he is overrated in light that people say he’s the best. He’s still good. And of this list I would personally have more than half of these taken off

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    1. This is a dumb comment. Biblioklept is great, people talk shit bout it cuz it is overrated in light that people say its the best [?!]. It’s still good. And of this comment I would personally [“I” implies personally] have more than half of these [inanities] taken off

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      1. Dude your entitled to your opinions. As I am. But straight up prince, mick ronson, David Byrne flat out aren’t better. You put Neil young on and you think his one note bends solos are good. I mean to each there own. But that’s borderline retarted. And google top 10s slash sits at number 3. Your just making a point. I could start a website and post 50 online bloggers who are better than biblioklept. The hard one would be making a 50 list of ones dumber than biblioklept. Let alone I don’t think I could even start that list cuz there’s nobody to put on it

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        1. With its many misspellings and basic grammatical failures, I can’t tell if this comment is a joke or not. Are you just trolling? Did you drop out of fourth grade? Huff too much glue? Are you…? Wait! Is this…? Are you…? My GOD, it’s Slash! You’re Slash!

          How’s the Snakepit, bro?

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          1. No this is not slash. Who actually complains regarding grammar? The way you deliver your sentences, I doubt your even English first language. Your list is crap, a lot of these names are just fillers so you could get 50 names on your list. You’d be more convincing if you could name 10 with more back up for your reasoning

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            1. Jesse, I assure you I have no interest in convincing you of anything. I have no idea how you got here or why (etc.) but the way you have chosen to represent yourself in language suggests that you are either a child or an imbecile.

              I do not care at all about your opinions about my opinions. I only engaged with you here because your initial comment was so moronically worded that, having had a glass of wine or two, I felt you deserved mockery. I’m only left with sympathy now for whatever composition teachers you’ve had—I’m sure they tried.

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