“Prince is a better guitar player than Slash,” Graham Coxon once claimed, and while we wouldn’t go that far, the purple one is a truly incredible player: fusing rhythm, lead, feel and technique into a style that’s almost Hendrix-worthy. Find his performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps on YouTube and revise your Top 5 guitarists list accordingly.
He held down impeccable rhythm, co-wrote half the Guns N’ Roses catalogue from Don’t Cry to You Could Be Mine, and his exit from the line-up in 1991 effectively killed the band. Given all
of that perhaps it’s a little bit unfair that Mr Stradlin will forever be known as “y’know, that bloke in the chimney sweep cap who used to stand next to Slash on stage...”
Despite monster prog chops and a Les Paul tone to die for, the Rush man rarely gets a mention in pub discussions, presumably because he’s never achieved notoriety by falling out of Stringfellows with a stripper’s garter belt over his head.
Despite owning arguably the best picking hand in rock, Young Snr has spent four decades skulking unloved at the back while the crowd chants: “An-gus! An-gus!” In fairness, that’s what happens when you dress your little brother as a novelty schoolboy and give him all the solos.
The headlines focus on the faux-mobster shtick, the Radio 6 Music show and the reality TV dog- training, but beyond the play-in-a-day riff of Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ signature tune Scooby Snacks, Huey is also a seriously accomplished blues soloist. And don’t you punks forget it.
Armed with his stripped Les Paul, the late sideman swung from spaced-out lead gorgeousness on Bowie’s Life On Mars? to visceral freak-outs such as Vicious from Lou Reed’s Transformer. But that’s the trouble with hanging out with era-defining rock icons: nobody even notices you’re there.
Frontman. Songwriter. Icon. Tragic hero. But does anyone remember Lennon as a guitarist? Well, they should: his blazing Rickenbacker 325 rhythms on the early Beatles material are peerless, while I Want You (She’s So Heavy) and Yer Blues find him handling his guitar like a weapon.
Respect to Brian and Ronnie, but Stones fans know that in the early 70s, this gangly introvert was Keef’s greatest wingman, applying bottleneck brilliance to the likes of Sway, before jumping ship in 1974 to do... not a lot. “Mick is a great guitar player,” said Richards. “But he found out the hard way that’s all he is.”