10 of the most underrated guitarists in rock

24 April 2022, 09:00

Billie Joe Armstrong from American rock group Green Day performs live on stage in the Netherlands in 2005. (
Billie Joe Armstrong from American rock group Green Day performs live on stage in the Netherlands in 2005. (. Picture: Lex van Rossen/MAI/Redferns/Getty Images

We all know the famous guitar heroes: Hendrix, Page, Marr, Slash etc. But what about those who remain in the background, or don’t get enough credit?

  1. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day

    For just three people, Green Day make a hell of a racket. From punk rock power chords to heavy metal soloing, Billie Joe has got it covered.

  2. Peter Buck of R.E.M.

    Those finely-tuned arpeggios are the hallmark of America’s answer to The Smiths, but Buck knew how to cook up a storm, too. Listen to him whale away on Finest Worksong here.

  3. Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighters

    Often eclipsed by Big Dave Grohl, Mr Shiflett is no slouch when it comes to guitar chops. Watch this for proof.

  4. Andy Bell of Ride

    If there’s one thing the recent reformation of Oxford’s finest shoegaze band has proven, it’s that Andy Bell is the great “lost” guitar hero of the 90s. And he only played bass in Oasis! For shame.

  5. Prince

    Composer, dancer, singer, multi-instrumentalist… it’s often forgotten that Prince knew how to produce an incredible axe solo. Watch him completely steal the show at the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame's tribute to George Harrison in 2004.

  6. Robbie Krieger of The Doors

    Often in the shadow of Jim Morrison’s frontman shenanigans and Ray Manzarek’s hypnotic keyboards, Robbie Krieger was a hugely inventive guitarist, ranging from blues to flamenco and beyond.

  7. Bernard Sumner of Joy Division / New Order

    Barney kept it simple when it came to chords, leaving the melody (and the rock posturing) to Peter Hook’s bass, but he could create a metallic wall of sound.

  8. Joey Santiago of Pixies

    Always just falling on the right side of out-of-tune, Joey’s screeching solos have loosened many a tooth over the past 30 years.

  9. Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones

    Sandwiched between the late Brian Jones and the much-loved Ronnie Wood in the pantheon of Stones guitarists, Mick Taylor is one of Britain’s greatest bluesmen. Watch this incredible live performance from the doomed festival Altamont in 1969 - try and ignore the Hell’s Angel tripping on acid and concentrate on Mick and Keef’s duelling solos that kick in around the three-minute mark.

  10. Paul McCartney

    Yeah, Macca. He was “relegated” to bass in the Fab Four, but often stuck his head above the parapet with a superb solo. Have a listen to this if you don’t think he’s any good.


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