Welcome to Rock of Agers

Welcome to Rock of Agers

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Re-Ranking the Great Guitarists: Pete Townsend

Rock music is obviously created as something to be enjoyed. But, as with all creations, it then becomes subject to subjective ratings. Do you like this album? Not like this song? What is this songwriter's best self-penned tune? Who is the better singer? Which is the best band? Some of the most influential ratings in rock come from Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine has rated rock's 100 greatest guitarists.  Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees with the ratings. Here I'll Rock Your Festival's resident guitarist James Gilbert takes issue with a few of the highest placements. 

Rolling Stone rated Pete Townsend #10. #10? I think not. I saw The Who at the Fillmore East in the 60s. The highlight of that show for me was the warmup band from New York called The Vagrants. The Vagrants had a then-unknown guitar player named Leslie West. Now West made Rolling Stone's list at #66, but on that night and for the rest of his career, he was always better than Townsend. In fact, the Vagants were a better band that night than The Who. Maybe that's why Pete Townsend smashed his guitar? He couldn't stand being upstaged by an up-and-coming American player. Townsend seems to be trapped in a never-ending world of suspended chords. The chords sound nice when used sparingly, but the way The Who overuse them is tortuous to me. Maybe Pete should use the internet to look up some new chord structures instead of researching porn. That way he wouldn't get falsely accused of porno crime.

--- by James Gilbert

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