Ludwig van Beethoven is the smartest musician in the above list.
I don't think you can compare Hendrix and classical musicians. For instance, Beethoven was more of a composer, Hendrix was more of a performer.
Also, guitar and piano are completely different. The physical techniques on guitar are way more versatile than on piano. You can do bends, slides, harmonics, and you can pluck the strings in a plethora of different ways in a number of different places for different harmonic flavors. With the piano, your versatility is as limited as the sheet music you're playing (loud/soft, fast/slow, harmonic/melodic) all of which can also be done on guitar. But piano has the advantage of being able to play more than six notes at once (unlike guitar) and the sustain pedal.
In other words, Jimi Hendrix had tight control over the physics of his instrument. His technique was impressive. Beethoven was a master of musical theory and the composition and arrangement of notes themselves. These are two separate qualities of musicians.
But some information is missing about the third quality. We don't know whether Beethoven had "soul" in his playing (at least, not directly) whereas we get to hear Hendrix play, so we know he had soul. Great composers can be terrible performers.
What an odd collection. If you're going to include Hayden and Bach and Hendrix, where the heck is Boy George?
I had to pick Bach, but really he's #2.
You can't compare rock to classical, they're far to different.
I would probably have picked Mozart, too. ;-)
I think if you really would like to compare them, you would have to compare where they took music from, and where they brought it to. It seems to me in this regards, although I love Hendrix, his contribution to music is negligible compared to the classical guys. Now, it also seems to me Bach has most contributed in the history, at least within this list. But it's hard to tell.
If you would like to compare their live performances, although I do not remember Bach's concerts very well, Hendrix's were probably more memorable.
Battle? Between musicians?
Yes, I had also already picked Bach; the impact he had on music is totally superhuman.
Beethoven, he continued to compose and conduct music after he was completely deaf. That confirms the "smartest" requirement in my book.
I would only agree that that's true in the theoretical/composition sense (arrangement of notes). Hendrix introduces all kinds of new techniques to make different sounds with the same note. Of course, I'm not sure if he was the first to do all of the sounds he used, but he surely got it out there better than anyone else. In that regard, I'm not sure how much Bach contributed to theory and how much of it was inspired by more obscure musicians.
David Gilmour (in my avatar) is also well known for tone technique in the music community (he does some of the eeriest ghost bends and his wah pedal technique is amazing). Technique can change the whole theme of a musical composition.
It seems the spotlight has kind of shifted from theory to technique over the centuries. Most people have heard of David Gilmour, but nobody hears about the guy that writes the musical progression for songs like "Comfortably Numb" (Bob Ezrin)
You had Haydn and Beethoven but not Mahler, Rachiminoff, or Shostakovich on your list? It doesn't seem right for me to vote in such a poll. Also, how can you compare artists of completely different genres?
Electric guitar: Robben Ford
Vocals: Bobby Bland
Songwriter: Bob Dylan
Percussion: Buddy Rich or John Bonham (can't decide)
Admittedly, this list is restricted to people whose recorded outputs are widely available, and they will change over time. A wide-open discussion vs a tiny poll might have been preferable. BTW, Wendy (nee Walter) Carlos is a genius in electronic music, and opened up a lot of options for others. "Switched-On Bach" was a nice wake-up call for those who pooh-poohed synthesizers early on. If we could go far enough back in "real" performance time, we'd probably find people denigrating Hammond's electronic/magnetic organs, though now they are often the gold standard in jazz/blues/etc.
Does Gene Krupa do anything for you?
For songwriters I would agree with Dylan. I also really like Paul Simon and Neil Diamond.
Nice. Here is one of many I like.
And then Neil Diamond:
Yup, as does Max Roach. In bands, I was generally guitar+vocals, though I would occasionally sit in on drums. Somehow, when I listen to Led Zep, I usually find myself following Bonham, though. He was the heart of that band, IMO
Vocals, maybe, but songwriter more properly belongs in the poet category than the musician category (I'd have a hard time considering Dylan as much of a vocalist or a musician, even if he is an excellent songwriter).
I also had a problem with mixing musicians with composers. Since most of the people in the list were composers, I figured that must be what the OP meant.
It's kind of interesting that Bach would do so well. Kind of confirms the stereotype. Bach appeals to more mathematically inclined people while Beethoven and Mozart appeal to a more general audience of classical music.
And, if we are discussing best musicians in addition to best composers, no supporters of Evelyn Glennie as best percussionist? I think it's hard to rate musicians across genres, but at least she has a few crossover performances to compare.
Robben Ford has got to be the king of blues phrasing though. His stuff is amazing.
Separate names with a comma.