It’s almost a week since I heard the news but I’m still bristling with indignation now.
Imagine, if you will, the best guitarists you have seen, heard and learnt from during the past three decades.
And think, for a moment, who you would select, if pressed on the subject, as the greatest axe hero of the last 30 years.
Quite apart from this month’s brilliant return to the very forefront of popular music, Slash would have to be a contender.
So, too, Kirk Hammett. The Metallica maestro is responsible for some of the most focused and furious riffs rock music has ever witnessed.
Then there’s the musicians’ musicians – Satriani, Vai and Malmsteen. Say what you like about Yngwie but the supercharged Swede can do things with a fretboard few of his peers could even attempt.
And what about Eddie Van Halen? He’s got a Guitar Hero pack all of his own and was mates with Michael Jackson.
There’s Michael Schenker – although he’d be more of a shoe-in if the 70s were under consideration here – and of course you’d have to think about Joe Perry.
Any of the above would be acceptable choices and then there’s the new kids on the block. I’m thinking Matt Bellamy of Muse and jinky Jack White.
But in a poll of more than 30,000 BBC Radio Six listeners none of the names mentioned here made it to the top.
Slash was runner-up. Bellamy, Hammett and White all made an appearance in the top 10. But the winner was…
…none other than recently departed Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The man responsible for the unmistakable sound of Under The Bridge and a key player on the massive global album Californication deserves a whole heap of credit.
Frusciante is a fine musician and, by all accounts, a very nice man.
But is he really the best guitarist of the past 30 years? Really?
It’s impossible to quantify these things but in this case 30,000 Radio Six listeners can be wrong. Even if Frusciante had hit the top 10 eyebrows would have been raised.
But to top the pile! Come on!
Slash is better. Hammett probably better still. And the guys who never got near the top 10? Satch and Vai would have tears in their eyes – if this was a poll which really mattered.
Of course it’s not and what it has done is spark a massive debate. At a time when Radio Six is under threat from swinging BBC cuts. It all makes sense – kind of. But Frusciante the best guitarist of the past 30 years? Next they’ll be saying Kurt Cobain is the best singer of all time…
Fyi here is the top 10:
1. John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) ?2. Slash (Guns ‘n’ Roses) ?3. Matt Bellamy (Muse) ?4. Johnny Marr (The Smiths) ?5. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) ?6. Kirk Hammett (Metallica) ?7. Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) ?8. Prince ?9. Jack White (White Stripes) ?10. Peter Buck (REM)