Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, in the style of NCAA basketball's March Madness tournament.
We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host of incredible guitarists (dead and living) — players chosen for their technical ability as well as their importance and creativity, not to mention how influential they've been. We asked you to vote in the final four names, which you did. Now the 128 slots are filled, and we're ready to go.
We know there are going to be some weird style matchups in this poll, which may lead many of you to ask questions like, "How do you compare a shred guitarist to a blues guitarist?" Aside from how good a player is at their given style, here are some things to take into consideration:
• Influence: Who inspired more kids to beg their parents for a guitar for Christmas? Who inspired a wave of copycats?
• Chops/Versatility: Is the guitarist in question a one-trick pony or a master of many styles?
• Body of Work: Who had the more consistent career? Who has played on more classic albums?
• Creativity: Who pioneered new techniques? Who sounds the most radically different from what came before them?
Mick Taylor came to prominence when he replaced Peter Green (who replaced Eric Clapton) in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. His mastery with a Les Paul, of course, led to his joining The Rolling Stones in 1969. Taylor appears on several classic Stones albums, including (but not limited to) Let It Bleed,Sticky Fingers,Exile On Main St. and It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. He's also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Opposite Taylor is one Billy Gibbons, the perpetually bearded, guitar-playing member of the blues-rocking trio known as ZZ Top. His chunky, often understated blues-based riffs have influenced everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jeff Beck, and he's played on ZZ's cult faves (Rio Grande Mud) and massive hits (Eliminator). And let's not forget his work with the Moving Sidewalks!
Who advances to Round 2? Vote now!
Yesterday's match saw Steve Lukather (52.24%) defeat K.K. Downing (47.76%).