100 Greatest Guitarists

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Johnny Ramone
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28. Johnny Ramone

The father of punk-rock guitar and a huge influence on riff-driven modern metal, Johnny Ramone is one of the instrument's great anti-heroes. John Cummings made his name with an inexpensive Mosrite guitar, on which he hammered out high-speed downstroked barre chords in a slashing, minimalist style that appropriately became known as "buzzsaw." A pure rhythm engine, Ramone almost never played a solo, but his playing had the headlong surge of an oncoming subway train. In an era when "heavy" was synonymous with "slow," the primitive, metronomic swing of his riffs on "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Judy Is a Punk" and the trampoline-pop grind of "Rockaway Beach" showed you could speed things up without losing an ounce of power (somewhat surprisingly, his own guitar hero was Jimmy Page). "Johnny was the first guitar player I ever saw play like he was really mad," testified Henry Rollins. "And I was like, 'Damn. That's cool.'"

Key Tracks: "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Judy Is a Punk," "Rockaway Beach"

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