Steve Vai and I don't have a whole lot in common. He's a way better guitarist then me and he has a much cooler look then me. The one thing that we do have in common, though, is that we have a hard time calling anyone the greatest guitarist of all time.
Stevie Ray Vaughan is definitely my favorite, but I wouldn't be so bold as to call him the best of all time. While Steve Vai was listing out some of the greats in his interview with Music Radar, he did propose that Allan Holdsworth could possibly hold that coveted title in his mind. Here's what he had to say:
"I very rarely agree with the term best guitar player. It just seems so obscene to put something so subjective into a best category.
"But if I had to say there was one, I would pick Allan Holdsworth.
"He was unique in ways that I don't think have been discovered yet. Many musicians can be considered ahead of their time, but usually - they're not. They're mainly ahead of everyone else at that time.
"For example, Jimi Hendrix wasn't ahead of his time; he was perfect for his time and ahead of everyone else.
"Allan Holdsworth was definitely ahead of his time because it's hard to realize how great he is - not many people actually understand. It takes time for us to catch up with those that are ahead of their time.
"I would not be surprised if in 100 years from now, if people are still even listening to guitar - which I suspect they will be - he'll be singled out as 'the one' alone, so to speak.
"The way he uses the whole tone scale is like his own baby shoes - it's so easy for him. His thought process was phenomenal.
"I can hear any guitar player and I know what they're doing - I might not be able to play it - but I can see it in my mind's eye.
"But I do not know what the fuck Holdsworth was doing at all..."
I honestly had never heard of Holdsworth, but you can bet that I looked him up immediately. I don't really even know how to describe what I found. It's this sort of jazz fusion madness and there's something in his playing that I can't explain; it's mesmerizing and a bit confusing. The guy is all over the fretboard, manipulating notes that I had no idea even belonged together. I don't know if he's the greatest guitarist of all time, but he's got to be up there.
Sadly, in my research I also found that he passed away not long ago on April 15, 2017. Have a listen and help keep Allan Holdsworth's music alive.