It took lots of back and forth emails between editors, heated arguments over a week's worth of happy hours and brutal rounds of scissors-paper-rock, but I, with the help of Alex V. Cook whittled down the list. Behold, the world's 12 Greatest Female Guitar Players ever.
In the Klingon sense, there is no honor in loving Jewel. What started out as a sweet Lisa Loeb upgrade invading the pop scene, things went quickly downhill with her accepting her inner poet and then her inner pop tart. But, much as I might be loathe to admit it, those first couple songs of hers always warm my heart when I hear them on the piped-in at the grocery store. And frankly, those snaggle-teeth totally do it for me.
Weapon of Choice: an array of Martin acoustics
Career Highpoint: her first album and its sweet folky country-ish songs, and her later rampant insane stage persona
Fun Fact: Hmmm, she doesn't seem all that fun actually.
11. Joan Jett
Band: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
C'mon. When Joan Jett came on the scene everyone was turned on. She was the quintessential rocker chick, and that was before we were, as a people, aware of her past in the Runaways. I mean, her songs were either covers or aggro pop dross, and actually I don't know what she's been doing for the last quarter century, but none of that matters. She is the hot chick David Johansen wanted to be in the New York Dolls but couldn't acheive, so he had to give it up for Buster-dom and that folk-singer shit he did.
Weapon of Choice: Gibson Les Paul
Career Highpoint: She informed us decades ago that she indeed loved Rock-n-Roll and despite having only two other hits, every adult in the US probably has a clear idea who Joan Jett is.
Fun Fact: Is impossibly hotter now that she was 25 years ago. And though I am not a lesbian, I would still wear a W.W J.J.D. t-shirt.
10. Poison Ivy
Band: The Cramps
Surely it's her choice of guitars that make Ivy so hot - - sure, any chick can pick a Les Paul or a shitty Stratocaster, but you have to know your shit to pick a decent arsenal of guitars and have the ability to play them.
Weapon of Choice: A plethora of vintage Gretch hollow body guitars, but her vintage 1958 Gretch Chet Atkins 6120 is her go-to ax.
Career Highpoint: None yet, but were all still waiting.
Fun Fact: Played her first gig in a mental hospital. She once accidentially kicked off a high heel, narrowly missing Alex V. Cook's head at a show in New Orleans. Fortunately, Lux had an extra pair in his stage kit.
9. Juliana Hatfield
Band: The Blake Babies, The Juliana Hatfield Three, Solo
It must have been the summer of 1993 - I was working at a Tower Records in Anaheim and a copy of Hatfield's "Become What You Are" was in the promo bin. While the manager was on a cocaine break in her office, I stole the promo disc. Coincidently, I was in my strange female-guitarist phase and instantly fell in love with Hatfield's endearingly thin voice. Plus, she looked a little like Jamie, a girl that had just ripped the still-beating heart from my chest and dropkicked it in the toilet. A stalker/musician relationship was born that day and even though she only charts in at number nine, there's still a small bit of me that thinks she may have made top five.
Weapon of Choice: The Gibson Les Paul Standard and the SG
Career Highpoint: It's a tie: The cover of Sassy magazine/her guest stint on the melancholy teen-cult hit, "My So-Called Life."
Fun Fact: Although she maintains she was a virgin in her early years as a rockstar (up until the mid-90's) she forgets to mention that she and fellow Bostonian Even Dando used to bang all the time.
8. Kathleen Hanna
Band: Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Fakes, Helter Skillet, Viva Knievel, Wondertwins, Suture, The Troublemakers
It's obvious Kathleen has absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever and she'd surely be pissed off if she knew she was on a "hottest female guitarist" list, but oh well. She's cute and smart and Le Tigre gets better with every release - I just wouldn't want to date her. Lighten up, baby - it's only rock and roll and yes, I like it. Is it any wonder why her current boyfriend, Beastie Boy's Adam Horovitz, is always on tour?
Weapon of Choice: Kathellen's been known to use a 1965 Gibson Melody Maker.
Career Highpoint: The whole Riot Grrrl thing - - she didn't start the movement, but she was the most famous person to come out of it.
Fun Fact: While they were backstage at the Lollapalooza music festival in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 1995 Courtney Love flicked a cigarette at Hanna, pelted her with candy, and punched her in the face. Hanna pressed charges and Love ultimately pleaded guilty to assault later that September.
7. Ruyter Suys
Band: Nashville Pussy
I've never heard a Nashville Pussy song in my life and frankly, I really don't ever want to either. But I will tell you one thing, Ruyter Suys is one of the hottest and filthiest female guitarists ever. She fulfills my woman jailbreak fantasy.
Weapon of Choice: The Gibson SG
Career Highpoint: The point of every live Nashville Pussy gig when lead singer Blaine Cartwright pulls Ruyter's head back - while she's on her knees mind you - and forces a bottle of beer down her throat as she proceeds to guzzle its entire barley-based contents.
Fun Fact: She claims that the reason why she plays guitar is because of Courtney Love - not because Love's her idol, but for the opposite reason. "Courtney gives women a bad name in rock 'n roll and uses her guitar as a necklace not as an instrument." She follows that statement up with this: "Being a woman in a band can be hard sometimes because people will never look at me for my musicianship, they'll always look at the boobs." Did I mention she only plays gigs in lace bras and leather pants and the leather pants usually come off mid-set? Contradictions are incredibly sexy.
6. Kelley Deal
Band: The Breeders, The Amps, The Kelley Deal 6000
Obviously the more destructive of the two Deal sisters, Kelley has been in and out of rehab ever since the Breeders' gentle decline from the charts. Her technique isn't all that great (Kim her sister taught her basic chords of each song the day she needed to record them), but amidst all the drugs and booze, this little lady has kept her looks - unlike her ravished sister who's now just a shell of her former self.
Weapon of Choice: The Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
Career Highpoint: While opening for Nirvana in Miami sometime in 1994, she missed the tour bus to the next venue. Finally realizing that her sister wasn't at the gig, Kim Deal drew a life-sized picture of Kelley with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The sisters both admit it was the best the Breeders had ever sounded.
Fun Fact: Our Kelley got busted for heroin when she had a FedEx package of horse was delivered to her house. Unfortunately for her, the package was sent as a covert sting operation courtesy of Ohio's chapter of the FBI.
5. Corin Tucker
Corin would surely hate the fact that she's on a hottest anything list due to her feminist leanings, but it's not her choice, is it? Her technique is sloppy at best, but there's something about her I really like - I might have to do with the fact that she's the spitting image of my ex-girlfriend's sister, Melissa, who I always had a major crush on.
Weapon of Choice: A cherry-red or black¬†Danelectro DC59
Career Highpoint: When Sleater-Kinney released "Dig Me Out" in 1997, the band was being called the greatest punk band in the world by the likes of the Village Voice and Rolling Stone even though they never really delivered the goods.
Fun Fact: Although this feisty feminist firecracker was once a lesbian (she used to date fellow band member, Carrie Brownstein), she's left the sapho lifestyle and married filmmaker Lance Bangs. Confused sexual identity? That's hot!
4. Emma Anderson
Band: Lush, Sing-Sing
A completely underrated guitarist and songwriter. Sure, she's not the most proficient guitarist of the bunch - I've been known to winch during her solos - but what she lacks in ability, she makes up for in songwriting. She was one of the pioneers of the fabled shoegazer (a term I hate, but what are you gonna do?) phenomenon that came out of Camden. It's a little heartbreaking she has to work a 9 to 5 job again while her new band is second banana.
Weapon of Choice: 1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline
Career Highpoint: Dropping acid with the boys from the Jesus and Mary Chain while driving cross-country on the Lollapalooza tour.
Fun Fact: Now works a day job (when she's not touring with Sing-Sing) as a road manager for - gah - Duran Duran.
3. Cristina Martinez
Band: Boss Hog, Pussy Galore, Honeymoon Killers
Maybe the most elusive musician on this list - what do we know about Christina? Me? I know nothing other than the fact that she's been known to pick up a guitar while in the art-noise band, Pussy Galore and really then, all she did was bang her guitar around and create feedback. Still, in my rulebook, it a girl has at anytime strapped a guitar to her back while on stage, that right there constitutes as being a female guitar player.
Weapon of Choice: Whatever guitar is lying around at the moment.
Career Highpoint: The night Boss Hog debuted at CBGB in 1989, Cristina performed the entire set completely naked. Nice.
Fun Fact: Married to indie heartthrob, Jon Spencer.
2. Liz Phair
Band: This bird flies solo
C'mon, this one's obvious, isn't it? Love her or loathe her, she's still head and shoulders above the rest - she only didn't make first because I've never met her and this is after all, an extremely biased list. Some say she just started getting shit after she released her latest self-titled LP which was produced by the Matrix (Avril Lavigne's hitmakers), but it started way before that. I think her cover on Rolling Stone in 1993 when they dressed her in a tiny nightgown sealed her fate as all style and no substance. I say bullshit to that - "Exile in Guyville" is one of the few perfect albums of the '90s.
Weapon of Choice: A plethora of Fenders: several Mustangs and a couple Telecasters.
Career Highpoint: The aforementioned "Exile in Guyville" - flawless.
Fun Fact: She used to sell her charcoal drawings while in college at Wicker Park for beer money.
1. Miki Berenyi
Easily the hottest of 'em all: half Japanese, half Hungarian, former art student, one-time 'zine publisher - this one has it all. Plus, she's the guitarist that inspired me to buy my first guitar - a battered gold Fender Jaguar that I bought off a meth user in San Dimas, which refused to stay in tune. First song I learned was the simple three-chord "Thoughtforms" off her band's 1989 EP, Scar and it's been half-assed musicianship for me ever since.
Weapon of Choice: A six-string Gibson 335 and a Gibson Firebird
Career Highpoint: Never bothered figuring out how to tune her guitars "That's what roadies are for," she once joked while backstage at Lollapalooza in Irvine, California. Personally, I agree with her.
Fun Fact: She and I enjoyed drinks with Weezer after Lush's aborted concert at Prince's now defunct Glam Slam club in Los Angeles (Lush blew out the house's PA system after three songs because Prince's system was poorly put together).
Hamilton High was born on Doheny Ave in the gutter, is a poet, writer and observer of popular culture. Likes fashion and cares less for style. He's on the move, he's an alter ego and we hardly ever hear from him.
about Hamilton High »»
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