Sirius channel Classic Rewind's bizarro list of the greatest classic-rock guitarists: Huh?

Eddie-Van-HalenImage Credit: Neal Preston/CorbisThis weekend, the SIRIUS and XM channel Classic Rewind is showcasing the best of guitar-driven classic rock. To mark the occasion they’ve released a list of the top five “Guitar Greats” from the ’70s and ’80s. Here it is…

1.    Eddie Van Halen – Van Halen
2.    Alex Lifeson – Rush
3.    Mark Knopfler – Dire Straits
4.    Mike Campbell – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
5.    Joe Perry – Aerosmith

I actually quite like the mix of the predictable—Van Halen, Joe Perry—and the slightly more off the wall. Mike Campbell, in particular, tends to get overlooked when such lists are compiled, probably due to his mostly flash-free style (though maybe compilers are put off by his unsightly penchant for sporting dreads). Mark Knopfler is another often underrated axeman who seems to be operating in slow motion when compared to the Van Halens of this world (and who would probably shudder at being described as an “axeman” at all). Personally, I would have liked the list even more had it the cojones to include British folk legend Richard Thompson, though I appreciate his oeuvre is hardly awash with classic rock standards.

On the other hand, can you really have a credible top five list that doesn’t feature Jimmy Page? Or Keith Richards? What about Neil Young? Or Duane Allman, who arguably contributed as much to classic ’70s rock as anyone, even though he died in 1971? Or, for that matter, Allman’s Layla guitar partner Eric Clapton? Or Angus Young? Or Dave Gilmour? Or Prince? Or Jeff Beck? Or Brian May? Or… Well, we could do this all day. So, let’s do exactly that! Which fretmeisters from the ’70s and ’80s would you have put in the top 5? And which of Messrs. Van Halen, Lifeson, Knopfler, Campbell, and Perry deserve to be there?

After the jump I’ve posted a clip from each of the five to remind you of their credentials—or lack of them.

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Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • Joe C

    Come on! Any list of the top guitar players which doesn’t include the ‘holy trinity of guitar players’ Page/Clapton/Beck does not deserve to be taken seriously. Alex Leifson? Mark Knopfler? Who came up with this list, Martha Stewart??????

    • stan

      EVERYONE STOP NOW!!!!! Forget about this crap. You’d have to make a Top 100 list of guitar heroes of the 70’s and 80’s. There’s no point in debating this B.S.

  • Marc

    1) Eric Clapton
    2) Jimi Hendrix
    3) Jimmy Page
    4) Kirk Hammet
    5) Angus Young

    • BlackIrish4094

      Kirk Hammett, Angus Young??? Get a freakin grip dude. Maybe Angus in a stretch.

    • Sarah Meir

      Didn’t Jimi Hendrix die in 1970? Can’t really be one of the greatest guitarists of the 70’s and 80’s if he wasn’t alive…

  • Dave


    • BlackIrish4094


      • fred

        You’re a fricken cliche, just like your list.

  • BlackIrish4094

    This is the worst list ever. Mine would be: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and Ritchie Blackmore (from Deep Purple and Rainbow). Honorable mention to Tony Iommi of Sabbath.

  • Henry


  • mish

    1)Eddie Van Halen
    2)Jimmy Page
    3)Joe Perry
    4)Angus Young
    5)Randy Rhoades

    • BlackIrish4094

      I think Randy Rhoads just died too young and with too little work product to include him. I would put Jake E. Lee before him.

  • Rica

    Steve Cropper, Carlos Santana, Brian Setzer, Keith Richards (always underrated because he doesn’t do the big solo much), and Jeff Beck.

    • BlackIrish4094

      Cropper, Setzer (I’m still laughing about that) and Keith Richards do not belong on this list. Cropper because of genre, the others because of lack of talent.

      • Rica

        What do you mean Cropper because of genre? To imply Cropper can’t rock is pretty…naive. Judging by all your previous comments to everyone else, you seem to be forgetting this is an opinion poll. Let us have ours, okay?

      • BlackIrish4094

        Just that Cropper’s talent with Booker T, backing up Sam Cooke guys like that. He may be able to rock but was that the genre he did most of his work. Please, educate me (seriously) I am mostly familiar with him through those works.

      • BlackIrish4094

        But you are right on Beck, should have made my own list too. Surprised no love for Ritchie Blackmore though.

  • Jimmy

    70’s and 80’s?

    SRV tops any list, hands down.

    • Rica

      Yup, you’re right. Stevie Ray was amazing.

      • fred

        Right, your putting the Mascis douche on the list, but not Lifeson. pathetic

  • Dan Stipanuk

    A great guitarist is someone with that is creative, tasteful, and influential.
    Let’s go with:
    Jimmy Page
    Eddie Van Halen
    Frank Zappa
    Eric Clapton
    Duane Allman
    Neil Young
    David Gilmour
    The Edge
    Carlos Santana
    Kirk Hammett
    Mick Ronson
    Dick Dale
    J. Mascus
    Dave Navarro
    Johnny Marr
    Randy Rhodes
    Jerry Garcia

    • BlackIrish4094

      Allman and Santana both good additions to the debate, some of those other dudes shouldn’t even be allowed to look at this list (The Edge, Dave Navarro, Kirk Hammett, Neil Young, Frank Zappa), not talented enough IMO.

      • Dan Stipanuk

        I’d say Zappa is universally understood to be a musical genius, at the very least a technically virtuosic and sonically ambitious artist.
        The Edge has innovated the electric guitar while writing some the 80’s most memorable riffs and can melt a face if need be (see solo on Bullet the Blue Sky) Not bad for a guitarist for the world’s biggest pop band, although I’d argue he didn’t become “great” until the 90’s-00’s. He still sounds like no other guitarist other than obvious immitators.
        Kirk Hammett’s influence should be apparent, as Metallica’s first 3 (or 4,5) albums are considered landmarks in the thrash metal genre (a genre where guitar/solos is everything). Anytime you write music that is considered some of the most important in that genre, you cannot be denied. Same with Dave Navarro and alternative metal rock. Jane’s Addiction’s influence cannot be measured on 90’s alternative rock.
        Neil Young is just great, so I don’t know where the talentless thing came from. Listen to Cortez the Killer, Like a Hurricane, see that grunge was invented by him.

    • Matt Z

      read your list. You forgot to place Jeff Beck at the TOP. Anyone who knows what they are talking about agrees, including Eric Clapton, who consistently points to Jeff Beck as being the greatest he’s ever seen.

  • Billy

    No Jeff Beck? That’s embarrassing.

  • Sarah Meir

    Where’s Dave Gilmour?

  • Lindsay

    How about Lindsey Buckingham???

    • BlackIrish4094

      LMAO!!!!!! Wait, you mean it?

  • Sean

    1. Jeff Beck
    2. Eric Clapton
    3. Eddie Van Halen
    4. Jimmy Page
    5. Prince

  • Goober

    In no order:
    Jeff Beck
    Steve Howe
    Rotchie Blackmore
    Dave Edmunds
    Carlos Santana
    An how about 5 more?
    Stevie Ray Vaughan
    Robert Fripp
    David Gilmour
    Duane Allman
    Terry Kath
    And, yes, Brian Setzer does belong on any Best Guitarist list!

    • BlackIrish4094

      Steve Howe definitely a good addition (and thanks for finally giving love to Ritchie Blackmore) but I don’t understand the Brian Setzer thing, I’ll have to listen to his stuff some more.

  • Julie

    1. Jimmy Page. No-one else comes even remotely close.
    2. David Gilmour
    3. Steve Howe
    4. Neil Young
    5. Tony Iommi

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