Here is my list of 20 guitar players you should avoid like the plague. Some are poor guitar players who saw success despite their extreme lack of talent while others are so unbelievably talented that listening to them will drive you to the edge of despair and cause you to never play another chord again. And yet others made the list because I simply don’t like them (It’s my list, so I get to put whoever the heck I want on here). Enjoy.
1. Chet Atkins
‘Cause he’s better than you. It’s very disheartening to hear him laugh and talk to Les Paul while he’s playing things you couldn’t dream of doing even with years of practice. It’s very disheartening. Stay away and keep what’s left of your self-confidence intact.
2. Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple)
I know he wrote perhaps the most famous guitar riff of all time for “Smoke on the Water,” but jeez. Now, the man has a goatee, wears buckskin leggings, plays the lute, claims he’s a minstrel, and plays in a harp/lute duo with his wife (pictured above). There isn’t a Stratocaster in sight. This is simply a matter of principle.
3. John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Let’s set aside the fact that he was born in Berkeley and grew up in El Cerrito, CA — a dump next to an oil refinery north of Oakland — and not “on the bayou.” He obviously learned how to strum in 5th-grade guitar class one day, and that was about all his tiny little mind could handle.
4. Whoever the Hell Keeps Joining the Dead to “Do Jerry” (The Grateful Dead)
One Hispanic folk singer from San Jose fed elephantine doses of LSD and then given an electric guitar plus financial backing is probably enough, right?
5. Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot)
Because you’ll listen to him for all the wrong reasons. Trust me. I alone…
6. Les Paul
See Chet Atkins.
7. Syd Barret (Pink Floyd)
Actually, I’m on the fence about Syd. It sort of depends on you. His total disregard for western harmony and conventional guitar technique can be “ear-opening” or highly confusing. Again, it sort of depends on how you listen and who you are.
The guy or gal who plays on the reggae version on the radio. Just awful. So white, it’s beyond the pale. Hope they got paid well for it at least.
9. Johnny “Guitar” Watson
He’s too funky for you…you’ll get hurt.
10. Wayne Perkins
His guitar solo on the Rolling Stones track “Worried about You” alone should qualify him for the Guitar Hall of Fame. Trouble is he can make you cry.
11. Robby Krieger (The Doors)
Robby is so unwell known that my autocorrect keeps trying to change his name, and if I had not put (The Doors), you would have no idea who he was. Quick summary: Played classical guitar. Met a poet with a huge ego who wanted to be in a rock band. Bought a Gibson SG. Was completely unaware how pickups worked. Lost his job upon lead singers death/suicide. Never seen again save for a few rare appearances at the Santa Monica pier playing Donovan songs for acid casualties (on a banjo no less!). Total waste of space and an insult to SG players everywhere.
12. John Lennon (Post 1966)
His playing on some tracks in the later Beatle years is so dreamy, drone-like, comforting, and intimate, that it’s almost an advertisement for heroin. To counter this enticing genre, just pick any guitar player who OD’ed. There are scores of ‘em (hee…hee…get it?..scores…)
13. Dave Matthews
The man does not have a clue about harmony. Dave, you can’t play major scale over a minor chord progression. Unless you’re Miles Davis, which you certainly are not. Cut it out! (Same could be said for Pearl Jam, but that’s more of a melody problem. Talking to you Eddie…)
14. G.E. Smith
He’s the annoying guy with the blond Prince Valiant haircut and stupid grin. He first popped up in the SNL house band years ago. Since, he’s been a hired gun. He even played for Dylan for a spell.
However — I saw him on TV last summer leading the house band at the Republican National Convention. So he’s either a fascist or has dubious morals. Either way, he’s out. Same for Ted Nugent since we’re on the RNC anyway.
15. Anyone Who Speaks of Modes
Pay them no mind. They live in the early 1600s. They dine on mutton with maggots and have constant fleas and bedbugs. In other words, they are dead. They have been replaced by musicians who employ such modern innovations as chords and scales.
16. Fusion Players
These are guitarists who have no idea what they like, so they play a little bit of everything but unconvincingly and not well. Usually, they play too fast and in an over complicated manner with a special fondness for odd time signatures.
17. Stevie Ray Vaughn
In the slick 1980s pop music world, Stevie was the real deal and a hit. Unfortunately, it had been so long since anyone had heard an electric guitar in its original, unadulterated form that all it took for him to be anointed was to concoct a stew of the most obvious bits of Hendrix, Buddy Guy, et al, soak it in whiskey and tada! Guitar fans everywhere claimed the second coming of the Blues but better.
18. James Joyce and Hector Berlioz
Neither was ever recorded. No machines. It’s not so much that you shouldn’t listen to them as much as it is that you literally can’t.
19. The Edge (U2)
Ok. The Edge is a fine guitar player. Really good. But here’s the problem: You can’t play U2 songs on guitar … without U2. They are a REAL band. If you just play one part (be it guitar, bass, drums, or vocals), it sounds childishly simple — almost uninteresting. Try (and it’s hard) listening to just one instrument at a time in any U2 song. There’s not much going on.
Now, listen again focusing on another instrument, and then the next. Do you hear how it all fits together? That’s a band! Same thing goes for the Stones. This is magic. So when you listen to U2, listen to the whole band as one machine. Oh, and it helps if you can sing like Bono. Good luck with that mate!
20. Bill Dickson (Me)
If you are listening to me, I better be making money. And as I look round, I see I’m not so…get offa my lawn.