Jamaican Guitar Legends Light Up Rolling Stone’s Esteemed List of Guitar Greats
In the realm of guitar mastery, few accolades are as prestigious as securing a coveted spot on Rolling Stone’s revered list of the “250 Best Guitarists Ever.” In the latest edition of this iconic ranking, the spotlight shines brilliantly on three Jamaican guitarists who have left an indelible mark on the global music stage: Stephen “Cat” Coore (#91), Ernie Ranglin (#179), and Earl “Chinna” Smith (#181). Their inclusion in this illustrious list is a testament to their unparalleled contributions to the art of guitar playing.
Stephen “Cat” Coore: Pioneering Reggae Guitar
Landing at the impressive #91 position is Stephen “Cat” Coore, a founding member of the legendary reggae outfit Third World. Rolling Stone heaps praise upon Coore, lauding him for reshaping the boundaries of what reggae guitar can achieve. With scorching solos that can stand toe-to-toe with those of rock’s most celebrated guitar icons, Coore’s influence on reggae is immeasurable.
But the accolades don’t stop there. Rolling Stone goes a step further, urging readers to delve into Coore’s brilliance by immersing themselves in his enchanting string arrangements on Third World’s 1982 hit, “Try Jah Love.” This track, they assert, serves as a quintessential example of why Coore’s lead guitar style is often likened to the electrifying Carlos Santana.
Ernie Ranglin: The Architect of Reggae’s Guitar Sound
Claiming the formidable #179 position, Ernie Ranglin is recognized by Rolling Stone as an indispensable architect of the reggae genre. They underscore that without Ranglin’s pioneering contributions, reggae might never have achieved its global prominence. Ranglin’s fingerprints are all over the early days of Jamaican ska in the 1960s, where he crafted the distinctive rhythm-guitar pattern played on the upbeat. This groundbreaking innovation laid the foundation for the evolution of rocksteady and, ultimately, the reggae genre we cherish today.
Rolling Stone further highlights Ranglin’s significance by noting his pivotal role in crafting the first international ska hit, Millie Small’s 1964 sensation, “My Boy Lollipop,” and his iconic riff on Toots and the Maytals’ seminal track, “54-46 Was My Number.”
Earl “Chinna” Smith: The Reggae Guitar Virtuoso
Completing this Jamaican triumvirate at #181 is Earl “Chinna” Smith. Smith’s impact on reggae is nothing short of monumental, with his guitar wizardry gracing the works of an array of reggae luminaries, including Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Bunny Wailer, Sugar Minott, Jacob Miller, Black Uhuru, Mighty Diamonds, Augustus Pablo, Gregory Isaacs, and Freddie McGregor. According to Rolling Stone, Smith may hold the record for the most recordings during the classic reggae era.
As a member of Bunny Lee’s Aggrovators and later the Soul Syndicate, Smith left an indelible mark with his intricate guitar intros on tracks such as Bob Marley’s “Rat Race” and Dennis Brown’s “Cassandra.” His precise rhythm and riff playing elevated him to the status of a true master of the reggae guitar.
A Diverse List of Guitar Greats
While the Jamaican trio rightfully commands attention, it’s important to acknowledge the incredible array of talent featured on Rolling Stone’s list. Jimi Hendrix, the indomitable guitar maestro, reigns supreme at the top, with the legendary Jimmy Page securing the third spot and Chuck Berry claiming second place.
Furthermore, the Dominican Republic’s Edilio Paredes, ranked at #244, and Lynn Taitt of Trinidad, holding the 204th spot, also make their mark on this prestigious list. Lynn Taitt, in particular, is renowned for his pioneering contributions to early rocksteady records, such as Hopeton Lewis’ “Take It Easy” and Derrick Morgan’s “Tougher Than Tough,” essentially shaping the guitar sound of this influential genre.
In conclusion, Rolling Stone’s list of the “250 Best Guitarists Ever” serves as a fitting tribute to an array of guitar virtuosos who have indelibly shaped the world of music. Among them, the Jamaican triumvirate of Stephen “Cat” Coore, Ernie Ranglin, and Earl “Chinna” Smith stand as luminous beacons, their mastery of the six-stringed instrument contributing immeasurably to the rich tapestry of global musical heritage