Here’s one “guitar greats” list that Jimi Hendrix did not top: “the 100 greatest metal guitarists of all time.”
According to Guitar World magazine, the No. 1 metal guitarist is Tony Iommi, the God-fearing axeman with pioneering English heavy metal band Black Sabbath.
Six musicians claimed the next four spots: Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett tied at No. 2; AC/DC siblings Angus and Malcolm Young at No. 3; Randy Rhoads, the late sideman for Ozzy Osbourne, at No. 4; and Eddie Van Halen, of the foursome that bears his name, at No. 5. Hendrix was No. 12, six places behind Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
The list appears in the magazine’s March issue, which hits newsstands next week.
According to Guitar World editor-in-chief Brad Tolinski, the criteria for the list were purity and innovation. He said Iommi never strayed from a basic formula of B-tuned guitars played very loudly, plenty of power chords and slower rhythms.
“He’s essentially the guy that created most of the conventions for heavy metal,” Tolinski said. Iommi’s “shining moment” is the track “Warning” from the band’s self-titled 1970 debut album, according to the poll.
If Black Sabbath started the heavy metal ball rolling, then Metallica kept it alive, Tolinski said, pointing to the 1984 track “Creeping Death” as the band’s stand-out.
Page’s relatively low No. 6 ranking raised some eyebrows since Led Zeppelin also helped pave the way for heavy metal. But Tolinski said Page would be the first to admit that his playing also incorporates blues and folk. Similarly, Eddie Van Halen has always had a foot in the pop world, he added.
Hendrix, who died in 1970, introduced some of the genre’s conventions, but Tolinski termed him more of a “futuristic blues player” than a heavy metal guitarist.