Guitar World’s 50 Greatest Rhythm Guitarists of All Time proves the point that you can have a tremendous impact without being a flashy soloist.
Chuck Berry, Steve Cropper, Bo Diddley, Don Everly, The Edge, Keef, Andy Summers, Pete Townshend, Malcolm Young … these guys defined the sound of the band, erected the songs on their chords, and for the most part didn’t need a solo to make the tune kick butt.
As Danny Kortchmar says, “it’s easier to play a screamer solo over a heavy groove than it is to make that groove.”
Which is why cats like Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, who are perhaps know for their soloing, are also on the list. And deservedly so: it ain’t easy to give us a rhythmic groove and a solo all at the same time.
I can’t figure out why John Lennon doesn’t make these lists, though. Maybe my Beatles obsession just drives me to want to include a guitarist who happened to play rhythm, as opposed to a guitarist of revolutionary importance. Maybe, but I still think he was pretty darn good.