10 of the most underrated guitarists in rock

24 March 2024, 18:00

How do you rate these guitarists? Bernard Sumner from Joy Division/New Order, Joey Santiago from Pixies and Peter Buck of R.E.M.
How do you rate these guitarists? Bernard Sumner from Joy Division/New Order, Joey Santiago from Pixies and Peter Buck of R.E.M. Picture: John Atashian/Adam Gasson/Simon Meaker/Alamy Stock Photo

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.

    Green Day - American Idiot [Live]

  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.

    Finest Worksong - Tourfilm

  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.

    Shiflett guitar solo 2018

  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.

    Ride - Like A Daydream

  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.

    Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others -- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

  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.

    The Doors - Love Me Two Times (Live In Europe 1968)

  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.

    Joy Division 1978 Granada Reports Live

  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.

    Pixies - Vamos

  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.

    Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil (Live Altamont, 1969)

  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.

    Paul McCartney - Taxman isolated guitar solo