Timbo, best guitar player to a listener is not the same as it is to a guitar player. Eric Johnson is awesome if you like guitar and not songs. I have played guitar for most of my life. Went through that phase where I just focused on technical ability. But I much more appreciate a player who thinks of tones and riffs that are unique and creative. Not that cliffs of Dover is not awesome. But I can think of far less technical players i much prefer due to their creativity and how they augmented a band.
Like tricky said. Nirvana made everyone think they could do it. And many many bands have tried to copy that simple dynamic of quiet to loud since. But no one has ever really pulled it off as well.