100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

From Jerry Garcia and Joan Jett to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone critic chooses the best and most influential guitarists in rock

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Pete Townshend
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50. Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend destroyed guitars almost as much as he played them in the mid- and late 1960s, smashing his Rickenbackers and Strats in frenzies of ritual murder at the end of the Who's stage shows. But he also pioneered the power chord on the Who's 1965 debut single, "I Can't Explain," and on the follow-up, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, "Townshend was arguably the first in rock to use feedback as a soloing tool. Live at Leeds is an exhilarating display of his unique guitar violence, while Who's Next, the Who's greatest studio achievement, shows how much melody and beauty there was inside Townshend's thunder and lightning.

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