It's Jimmy Page's 70th birthday and as we saw just a few years ago during that Led Zep reunion, the man can still shred. Hope we see him live again soon.
In honor of his birthday, here's a re-run of my list of FAVORITE GUITARISTS from 2010:
1. Jimmy Page
"Hammer of the Gods" describes it pretty well. Along with his amazing dynamic range -- from delicate lines to face-melting riffs -- there was never a more thrilling, passionate, sloppy, daring guitarist. As evidence, we need only point to the 3-minute mark of "Dazed and Confused."
2. Jimi Hendrix
He flipped it upside down and virtually wrote the book on acid, hard-rock guitar. At times, just maniacally, otherworldly good. Think of what he could have done if he'd lived even to be 30.
3. Duane Allman
Only made it to 24, but, wow, did he leave us some sweet playing. He incorporated Southern picking into blues-rock with tones that were soulful and sizzling, whether with the ABB or on the "Layla" album. Of course, you can't talk about Duane Allman without mentioning Dickey Betts.
4. Stevie Ray Vaughan
So heavily influenced by people like Albert King, Buddy Guy and Mr. Hendrix, SRV loses points on originality. But his ability to go from Point A to Point B on the neck was mesmerizing, his tone was big as Texas and his ability to play lead and rhythm together was jaw-dropping. When he played, it came from somewhere else.
5. Jerry Garcia
The first controversial pick on the list, perhaps, because some just consider him a noodler. The thing about Jerry is that, whether he was playing country-bluegrass or going deep into psychedelia, he found colors in his customized guitars that no one else could. When you hear Mr. Garcia, you know who it is.
6. Richard Thompson
The onetime British folk-rock prodigy, who came up through Fairport Convention, is the most underrated guitarist (not to mention singer and songwriter). Choose your poison: He'll give you lyrical finger-picking on acoustic or shred on electric. The virtuoso of this list.
7. Neil Young
Let's see. He came in at No. 83 on the Rolling Stone list, maybe because of one of those one-note solos. While not the most skillful player, the Godfather of Grunge does a lot with a little, and there are few players more expressive or more intense. (One disciple who is tempting to put on this list is Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis.)
8. Andy Gill
Could the Gang of Four guitarist play an actual blues riff? I couldn't tell you. But he scratches and claws at the guitar so jaggedly you fear it could cut you. His icy stare just adds to the thrill. When you see Go4 (one of the best bands I've seen live) it's hard not to stare back. Other punk faves: Billy Zoom of X (pure psychobilly precision) and Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets (Garcia on speed).
9. Keith Richards
Bear with me here. As a soloist, he wouldn't make the top 100. And I would add that when I've seen him live, it's been hard to tell exactly what he's doing. But did any band ever generate more great riffs than the Rolling Stones? He has to get props for that, with nods to Brian Jones, the great Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood.
10. Thurston Moore/Lee Ranaldo
What would the storm of the apocalypse sound like? Sonic Youth's twin towers of feedback provided the soundtrack in their torrential squalls. With their weird tunings and modified guitars, it was more devastating than anything that came before it.