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Some Votes are Truly Precious


This week, is revealing (cue the fanfare), The Top 50 Guitarists. Of. All. Time. Starting Monday morning, we have been counting down some of the best rock, blues, jazz, metal, classical and country players in music history.

The list was voted on by quite a consortium, including us Editorial folks at Gibson Towers (maybe you saw Editorial Director Michael Wright’s Top 25 submission, our talented and knowledgeable correspondents, some famous guitarists (including members of Iggy & The Stooges and The Black Crowes) and you, the readers.

Thousands of readers participated in our poll and all of you had a voice in the final tally. Wait, actually that’s not true. Some of you had no voice, because some of you made some really stupid picks.

Before you turn into an angry mob, hear me out. I’m not complaining about taste here. I’ll leave it to you readers to argue Joe Pass vs. Joe Perry. I’m talking about truly idiotic picks.

For instance, three of you voted for “Me.” Now, as much as I appreciate the support, I really can’t claim to be a better player than, say, Lonnie Donegan. Poor Lonnie. Not one single vote. I guess skiffle is dead, after all.

Of course, by voting for “Me,” you could have been referring to you. This is also incorrect, unless your name is James Patrick Page. Then you might have a case.

In any event, “Me” edged out another unlikely candidate by a single vote. Actress Gabourey Sidibe received a whopping two picks. Yes, the girl from Precious got two votes. Until getting the results of the reader’s poll, I was unaware of Ms. Sidibe’s six-string prowess. She certainly must be better than Peter Buck (1 vote) or Charlie Sexton (1 vote). Thanks for educating all of us.

And then there was the reader who used his/her vote to forecast the future. Some time-traveling guitar fan voted for “162722777,” providing us with a portal to a time when humans will all be referred to by serial number. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mr. 1672722777 (or 16, as I like to call him) shred like his life depended on it. Because, in the future, it just might. Hopefully, he can find Neo in time to save humanity.

Well, before we’re all condemned to an existence as mere pistons in a human factory, enjoy debating’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.


Bryan Wawzenek
International Editor/The One

Posted: 5/24/2010 5:23:07 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

What’s on the Editors’ iPods This Week?

Michael Wright (Editorial Director):

Stardeath and White Dwarfs - Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want to Kill Myself

“Title 5,” The Rolling Stones
It’s only been out for a day and I’m already living inside the disc of previously unreleased material from this masterpiece, which ends with a rollicking instrumental that owes as much to Dick Dale as it does the usual Stones blues influences.

“Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want to Kill Myself,” Stardeath and White Dwarfs
Dennis Coyne more than emulates his uncle Wayne’s (The Flaming Lips) brand of psychedelic experimentation, he matches it in sheer beauty and trippiness with this raggedly gorgeous song about dulling the pain of losing a girlfriend who wasn’t quite worth the bother.

“What Is and What Should Never Be,” Led Zeppelin
It’s a tribute to the magic of Jimmy Page and company that Classic Rock radio hasn’t managed to kill my love of their music. Zep II remains the “Brown Bomber.”

“I See the Rain,” Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
Sid and Susie’s gorgeous cover of the forgotten Marmalade classic.

“Always on My Mind,” Willie Nelson
Moving to Nashville this year has put me in a country state of mind and, to me, Willie’s music is the most personal and beautiful of that lot. Bourbon tastes a little sweeter if he’s playing.

Andrew Vaughan (Editor)

The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

“Teenage Kicks,” The Undertones
John Peel loved it, which was good enough for us in post punk England. Teen angst has never been more poignant or better expressed.

“There’s a Guy Works Down the Chips Shop Swears He’s Elvis,” Kirsty MacColl
One of the UK’s brightest talents until her tragic death. Brilliant, and the best song title in pop history.

“A New England,” Billy Bragg
One of the unlikeliest pop stars of the past thirty years, Bragg launched himself with this hard-to-categorize classic.

“Wall of Death” Richard Thompson
Underestimate this folk-meister at your peril. When he wraps those weary vocals and truly unique guitar style around a melody this good, he’s peerless.

“Hot Rod Lincoln,” Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen
Commander Cody remains one of America’s hidden treasures and Bill Kirchen is still one of the best bar acts around.

Sean Dooley (Editor, Social Media)

Def Leppard - Let It Go

“God Only Knows,” Beach Boys

Paul McCartney’s favorite song.

“Ain’t That Lonely Yet,” Dwight Yoakam
Dwight drips cool in this classic ode to the kiss-off.

“All I Wanted,” Paramore
Shines the spotlight on the power of Hayley Williams’ pipes better than any song to date.

“Let It Go,” Def Leppard
Easily one of the top three Def Leppard songs of all time.

“One More Time,” Mindy Smith
Written to her dying mother, it’s staggering heartbreak!

Bryan Wawzenek (International Editor):

Dolly Varden - Balcony

“Drunk Girls,” LCD Soundsystem
Danceable, insightful, hilarious. Another great single from reliable James Murphy and Co.

“Jeepster,” T.Rex
A riff/beat combo that never fails to make me stomp around my house like a moron.

“Chips Ahoy!” The Hold Steady
“Some nights the painkillers make the pain even worse.” A joyful tune about a joyless high.

“Balcony,” Dolly Varden
A gorgeous, haunting song from one of the best – and unfairly overlooked – albums of the ’00s, The Dumbest Magnets.

“Shine a Light,” The Rolling Stones
In my mind, this gospel-tinged Exile stunner is the album-closer. “Soul Survivor” always feels tacked on.

Posted: 5/19/2010 6:15:44 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Come Together!

Rock stars used to have fan clubs. For a few bucks a month you’d get a newsletter and maybe some pictures (depending on the artist), and aside from the gossip magazine and entertainment papers that was about it. There was a huge distance between fan and artist; we were butts on seats and record purchasers — the vast army of faceless fans who paid for our rock gods’ mansions and castles by lakes. Then Al Gore invented the Internet and everything changed.

At first, record companies, artist managers, bands and artists treated the brave new Internet world with the same PR mindset they had adopted in the past. A website was just another vehicle to push product, make announcements and count the cash. And for some, that was good enough. But with the old record business model imploding and more and more artists turning independent rather than hiding behind the skirts of major label nannies, our rock heroes started to reach out, to communicate and understand that fans are more than dollar signs.

When Facebook and Twitter muscled the old muso’s standby, MySpace, out of the way, it was because of the ease of communication and interaction. Consumers are no longer fans, we are followers and friends. We have opinions, interesting comments and useful feedback to contribute. Rock stars have got the message: Slash understands the value of Twitter like few others, maintains an active community and keeps his followers updated on a regular basis. Older artists have grasped the massive potential of direct interaction with fans, as well: Daryl Hall’s is one of the best examples of an artist connecting directly with his supporters and giving them something new and exclusive. Jazz great Wynton Marsalis recently hosted an exclusive question-and-answer session on Facebook. He received over 500 questions and had a real-time discussion with fans on his page.

Indie band, A Fine Frenzy, fronted by the witty and eloquent Alison Sudol, have over one and a half million followers on Twitter. The trick? She communicates regularly and is interesting and entertaining and, most significantly, replies to followers. Texas singer/songwriter James McMurtry talked to me recently about his appearance on Videoranch3D, an online music venue where fans can communicate with the artist during the concert. “The direct communication, the feedback that the Internet brings, is of great value as an artist. We’re in the communication business and now the communication is a two-way street.”

Indeed, as the record industry morphs and artists embrace the global scope of the Internet, a social media-savvy act can sell product all over the world, set up tours through followers in various countries and even raise funds for a new recording directly through “friends” and “followers.” For artists who understand that interaction is the key, and that relationship building is more valuable than Internet billboarding, the world really is their oyster. As a wise man once said, “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

Andrew Vaughan


Posted: 5/14/2010 1:56:08 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

Let the Battle Begin!

Guitar-Battle_Front.jpgIf ever there was a story title calculated to boil the blood of a guitar player or music lover, it is this: “The Top 50 Guitarists of All Time!” Every one of you who just read that sentence, I guarantee, is already thinking about who will be on that list. No, who had better be on that list!

List stories are fluffy, but somehow intoxicating. As if someone had found a way to soak cotton candy in vodka. (I promise you, somewhere in New York City, an ex-drummer of mine is probably working on that formula as we speak!) Once you dig into a list of this kind, you have to see it through. You have to see if, surely, Gary Moore made the cut. Surely Scotty Moore will make it. Or Yngwie Malmsteen. Surely Buddy Guy ranks higher than Hubert Sumlin. Or vice versa. Surely. Surely! SURELY!

Well, then it should come as no surprise that, right now, in these offices, we are SURELY working on just such a feature. The definitive Top 50 Guitarists of All Time, as voted on by a selection of Gibson artists, writers and editors — and you! Yes, your voice will be heard, as well. Just go to our Lifestyle page to vote on, as we call it, “The Most Important Poll Ever Taken!” At least to every shredder and noodler, both inside these walls and out there in your neck of the woods. If your favorite guitarist doesn’t make the cut, you only have yourselves to blame.

Or you can blame me. Here’s my Top 25. I dare you to knock it down:

  1. Jimi Hendrix
  2. Eric Clapton
  3. Jimmy Page
  4. George Harrison
  5. Charlie Christian
  6. Les Paul
  7. Scotty Moore
  8. Robert Johnson
  9. Pete Townshend
  10. Eddie Van Halen
  11. Chuck Berry
  12. B.B. King
  13. Brian Setzer
  14. Andres Segovia
  15. Ritchie Blackmore
  16. Stevie Ray Vaughan
  17. Johnny Marr
  18. Angus Young
  19. Keith Richards
  20. Jack White
  21. James Burton
  22. Buddy Guy
  23. Randy Rhodes
  24. Duane Allman
  25. Jeff Beck

“The Top 50 Guitarists of All Time” will run the week of May 24. See you there. Bring your pitchforks.


Michael Wright

Editorial Director/Blood Boiler

Posted: 5/6/2010 6:36:35 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink

It's Alive!

AHAB Welcome to the Editorial Blog, a loosely literary leviathan shaking off its slumber after nearly a year’s dormancy. There’s a lot of new blood in the literary pool, these days. (Okay, enough with the spooky, aquatic metaphors!) In the last three-or-so months, we’ve added an editor, a social media editor and an international editor. And little old me, your editorial director on this cruise.

The purpose of this blog is to entertain, perhaps to educate, but mostly to give you a glimpse inside the minds that make up this group of Nashville ne’er-do-wells and give you a better perspective of what’s going on here at It’s been an action-packed year already. We’ve had exclusive interviews with a bevy of artists, including Slash, Sammy Hagar, Steve Miller, Alex Lifeson and many, many others. We’ve also given you a first glimpse at some of the most amazing new guitars on the planet, such as the Slash Appetite Les Paul, the Joan Jett Blackheart, the Keb’ Mo’ Signature Bluesmaster, the Epiphone Swingster and the 50th Anniversary 1960 ES-335TD. These are exciting times around Gibson, and we’d like to share our little corner of that world with you.

So, check in with us once a week (two, if we’re feeling frisky), and by all means, leave us comments! We’d love to hear what’s on your mind.


Michael Wright
Editorial Director/Leviathan Tamer

Posted: 5/5/2010 4:41:07 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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