After nearly half a million total votes were cast, Eddie Van Halen has been named the victor in Guitar World‘s first-ever Greatest Guitarist of All Time poll.
The tournament-style readers poll began in April with 132 guitarists, including four — Malcolm Young, Nuno Bettencourt, Jake E. Lee and Chet Atkins — who were voted in by readers.
In the final matchup, which took place Monday and Tuesday, Van Halen faced off against an unlikely opponent in Queen’s Brian May, pulling a hefty 62.48 percent of the votes to claim a decisive win over the upset-happy May. May had previously knocked off a who’s-who of guitar greats on his way to the finals, with his signature tone, academic chops and a rabid Queen fanbase taking him past Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Les Paul, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.
King Edward — a 21-time Guitar World cover star — had no easy run to the finals either, running up against legends like Slash, Joe Satriani and Randy Rhoads along the way. When Rhoads and Van Halen met in Round 4, they were the two biggest vote-getters of the tournament, with Rhoads actually ahead in overall vote count leading into the match.
The Finals matchup between Van Halen and May received 27,179 votes over the course of a day and a half, bolstered by active social media teams and fan communities on both sides.