Twelve Amazing Guitarists Who Didn’t End Up On Rolling Stone’s Stupid List


You may have heard that Rolling Stone released the issue with “the list.” I’m not positive how often they do this – if it’s every year, or every other year. But of course, there are two women on it this year. Interestingly enough, they had a few women on the panel of voters.

I never know what to think of Rolling Stone’s list. I do know that Rolling Stone, in general, seems to be behind the times on what is going on in music. They tend to feature artists after they are already extremely popular. They get scooped on most artists by magazines like Magnet or Venus — these indie mags do much better on up and comers. The list itself is subjective, and was created by a panel of guitarists.

And…I love most of the male guitarists who are on the list. Men like Lee Ranaldo, J. Mascis, Mike Campbell, and Tom Verlaine — I listen to their music on an almost daily basis. I love these guys and think they deserve recognition. But it’s interesting that someone like, say, Jack White makes it on there. He’s admittedly a great guitar player, but the list skipped women like Wanda Jackson, who White has held up as one of his influences.

I’m going to say more about these artists later, but since it’s topical now I thought I would just go ahead and throw some names up here. This list is not definitive, but it is a list of women guitarists who I think are spectacular.

1. Elizabeth Cotten — created the alternate picking style now called Cotten picking.
2. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders
3. Wanda Jackson
4. Joan Jett – who has been on the list before but didn’t make the cut this year
5. Nancy Wilson of Heart — who was on the panel of voters for Rolling Stone but didn’t make the list
6. Mary Timony of Helium and Wild Flag
7. Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy
8. Poison Ivy of The Cramps – Ivy’s style was simple, but she’s influenced countless numbers of guitarists and bands. Plus, she looked way better while playing than any of the guys on Rolling Stone’s list. Style’s gotta count for something…
9. Carrie Brownstein
10. Viv Albertine, formerly of The Slits
11. Kristin Hersh
12. Thalia Zedek

This list isn’t extensive, and it could have included any of the other women who have been on this blog. Rebecca Gates is excellent. So is Sarah Register. So are Marnie Stern and Alex White. Amy Klein! There are the female “shredders” like Orianthi and Jacqueline Mannering. Ani Difranco. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. Joan Armatrading. Kaki King. PJ Harvey. Sister Rosetta Tharpe!  I could go on. I guess what I’m really trying to say about the Rolling Stone list in particular and lists like this in general is this. It’s the age of the internet. When I was a teenager, you still had to read magazines to find out information about music. Or at least zines. But now you just have to do a Google Search. So ignore Rolling Stone. Go find a woman you know who plays guitar and ask her something about her influences, or what she likes to play.


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