A list of my top 5 rock guitarists and drummers of all time.
Whittling the lists down to 5 each was an exhausting enough experience, so the artists are not actually ranked within the top 5. Instead, I have listed my choices alphabetically.
— Eric Clapton (The Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, solo career)
‘Ole “Slow hand” had us on our knees long before “Layla.” Enjoy this 1968 Cream performance of “Sunshine of Your Love.”
— Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
Every single Led Zeppelin song has a fascinating guitar part. Check out a live version of “Dazed and Confused” for a real treat.
— Robbie Robertson (The Band)
Robbie Robertson was never awarded the guitar icon status that he deserved. Watch him hold his own with Eric Clapton on “Further On Up the Road” in The Last Waltz.
— Carlos Santana (Santana)
Love that piercing, latin guitar sound. “Black Magic Woman” gets me every time.
–Pete Townshend (The Who)
King of the windmill, the scissor kick, and the guitar smash. See him in full antic mode on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from The Kids Are Alright. The knee slide near the 8:00 mark will give you chills.
–Ginger Baker (Graham Bond Quartet, Cream, Blind Faith, Ginger Baker’s Air Force)
The song “Toad” from Cream’s debut album, Fresh Cream, is a five minute Baker drum instrumental. With nothing else. Because nothing else is needed.
–John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
Keeping right up with Led Zeppelin’s stud of a guitar player was John Bonham on the beats. Give his solo on “Moby Dick” a try.
–Keith Moon (The Who)
Ah, Moonie. Half the fascination with him comes from just watching his facial expressions while he plays, but his work is incredible too. His style was “explosive,” to say the least… check out his work on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (above). Pay close attention from 7:40 on.
— Michael Shrieve (Santana)
Watch Shrieve’s solo during Santana’s performance of “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock, and you will need no further convincing.
— Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)
ELP have always been a bit underrated. But they get their due praise for “Karn Evil 9,” with Carl Palmer doing more than his part to earn it.
Note: Entry title lyric, “I shoulda learned to play the guitar, I shoulda learned to play them drums.” From “Money for Nothing,” Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms (1985).