2. Pete Townshend
The Who guitarist came in at number two, and very much like Keith Richards, he is very much in the public consciousness right now, promoting his new autobiography.
It's interesting that Gibson have chosen two legendary guitarists from the 1960s as their top rhythm players, and particularly interesting that both of those guitarists are British.
British rock music found huge popularity all over the world in the 1960s, and the host of new bands offered a fresh take on classic American sounds. Rhythm guitar played a particularly huge part in that, and influenced generations of bands for many years.
This is obviously a list of 'important' rhythm guitarists, rather than being based on technical proficiency, the latter of which you can't help but feel would include a few death metal guitarists, for better or for worse.
Gibson blogger Russell Hall said of Pete Townshend:
"Few musical sounds are more instantly recognizable than Pete Townshend’s revved-up flamenco style or his wind-milled power chords."
The rhythm work in this certainly is pretty inspirational: