Best rock guitarist (Page 9)
ibanezboogieking: Best is really subjective but most influential and ground breaking for me goes in stages and eras. That being said I believe Eddie Van Halen fits the bill. I don't believe he is the technical "best" especially with guys like John Petrucci out there these days.. but he really did lay a lot of groundwork for what modern rock guitarists utilize.
Bill51: I agree, Zappa is a really great, original, intelligent guitar player. But personally I would consider him to be sort of a "niche" player and not one who is accessible to a wider audience. A guitar player who is "strictly commercial" is probably not going to have very good chops really (I'm also a big fan of jazz guitarists; and they have incredible chops. But they are, by no means, "commercial".).
That's why I think Clapton is really the best. He is accessible; yet, at the same time, he is techncally extremely talented. I mean, let's face it, the man has some chops! (Listen to his solo on Cream's version of "Crossroads". He has, quite obviously, listened to and learned from some of the best old blues players (e.g. "Crossroads" is an old Robert Johnson song; and he cut an album with B.B. King-"Riding With the King". And, of course, as we all know, rock 'n roll is directly derived from the blues.