Nineties pop icons Noel Gallagher and the Spice Girls were given a slap in the face today after musicians branded the Oasis songwriter the most overrated guitarist of the century and the advocates of girl power were voted the worst group of 1999 in a separate poll.

Gallagher polled just ahead of ''slowhand'' Eric Clapton in Guitar Magazine's Millennium survey. Other notable flops with guitar fans were late Nirvana star Kurt Cobain at number four while Eddie Van Halen - famed for his hammering-on technique - was number six.

Shadows favourite Hank Marvin was seventh while U2's The Edge came tenth.

However, most of those stars had a note of comfort after also figuring in the best guitarist section named by readers, although the only Gallagher in the list was the unrelated Rory at number 18.

Jimi Hendrix topped the list of best players while Clapton came second, with his track Layla - performed under the guise of Derek and the Dominoes - the top riff of the millennium. Hendrix's Purple Haze was the runner-up riff.

The Spice Girls' unenviable title came in the Smash Hits Poll just a day after they kicked-off their first series of concerts for over a year.

Two years ago the all-girl band were named Best British Group, but yesterday the Worst Group title was not the only embarrassing trophy to come their way at the Smash Hits Awards Party. Sporty Spice Mel C scooped the Worst Female Singer, Worst Single, Worst Video, Most Tragic Haircut and Worst Dressed Person titles.

And to rub salt in their wounds, Spice Girls former band member-turned-rival Geri Halliwell took second place in the Best Female Solo Star category.

In the Guitar poll Nirvana's Nevermind beat established classics by The Beatles, Hendrix and Pink Floyd to take the title of album of the Millennium.

Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was runner-up with Hendrix's Electric Ladyland at number three. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, which usually tops such polls, came in at number five with the band's self titled 1968 album, often referred to as The White Album, at number eight.

The Who's John Entwhistle was named top bass player with Sir Paul McCartney at number two and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones at three.

Mark King of Level 42, often ridiculed for his playing style, made it in at number eight.

Other musicians to make it into the best guitarist list include Led Zep's Jimmy Page at three, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green at number six and Electronic and ex-Smiths star Johnny Marr.

The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, one of the figures who shaped rock'n'roll was ranked down at 26 - a place below John Squire, formerly of The Stone Roses and Seahorses.

Dozens of artists received awards at the Smash Hits Party at the London Arena yesterday but Halliwell was forced to pull out of the winners' party because of sickness.

She is resting under doctor's orders at her #2m home in Langley, Berkshire, after being laid low by viral pleurisy - an inflammation of the lungs.

The former Spice Girl has been unwell all week but doctors only diagnosed the condition, which can only be treated by rest and relaxation, in the last couple of days, the spokesman said.

''She is laid up in bed, really not very well at all,'' he said.

''She has not been well all week. Doctors have been visiting her but she has become sicker and sicker.''

Halliwell had been due to perform a seven-minute medley of her hits at the showbiz bash where winners are picked by readers of the teen magazine.

Chris Evans, who split from Halliwell three weeks ago, was named the Worst Person on Radio.

The pop world's hits and misses

THE Smash Hits poll in order of first, second, and third place is:

Best band on Planet Pop: Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, 5ive.

Best British band: 5ive, Steps, S Club 7.

Best non British band: Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Boyzone.

Best New Act of 1999: S Club 7, Westlife, A1.

Best female solo star: Britney Spears, Geri Halliwell, Martine McCutcheon.

Best parent in pop: Ronan Keating, Victoria Beckham, Mel G.

Best TV actress: Patsy Palmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow.

Best DJ on radio: Dr Fox, Zoe Ball, Chris Moyles.

Best single of 1999: I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys), If I Let You Go (Westlife), Baby One More Time (Britney Spears).

Best album of 1999: Millennium (Backstreet Boys), By Request (Boyzone), S Club 7 (S Club 7).

Best pop video: Larger Than Life (Backstreet Boys), Crazy (Britney Spears), If Ya Gettin Down (5ive).

Best male solo star: Robbie Williams, Ricky Martin, Ronan Keating.

Best TV show: EastEnders, Friends, Top of the Pops.

Best TV actor: Jack Ryder, Joe Absolom, Matthew Perry.

Most fancied female: Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Geri Halliwell.

Most fancied male: Ronan Keating, Scott Robinson, Nick Carter.

Favourite sports star: Michael Owen, David Beckham, Alan Shearer.

Hero/heroine of 1999: Stephen Gateley, Geri Halliwell, Michael Owen.

Best indie/rock act: Stereophonics, Mel C,


Best Dance Tune: Blue (Eiffel 65), Better off Alone (Alice Deejay), 9pm Till I Come (ATB).

Best dance/soul act: TLC, HoneyZ, Ricky Martin.

Worst group: Spice Girls, Boyzone, 5ive.

Worst male singer: Adam Rickett, Gary Barlow, Ronan Keating.

Worst female singer: Mel C, Billie, Lolly.

Worst single: Going Down (Mel C), Viva La Radio (Lolly), Mickey (Lolly).

Worst video: Going Down (Mel C), I Breathe Again (Adam Rickett), Mickey (Lolly).

Most tragic haircut: Mel C, Richie Neville (5ive), Lee (911).

Worst dressed person: Mel C, Lolly, Adam Rickett.

Worst person on radio:

Chris Evans, Zoe Ball, Chris Tarrant.

Most overrated guitarist

1 Noel Gallagher

2 Eric Clapton

3 Steve Vai

4 Kurt Cobain

5 Yngwie J Malmsteen

6 Eddie Van Halen

7 Hank Marvin

8 Bernard Butler

9 Joe Satriani

10 The Edge

Best guitarist

1 Jimi Hendrix

2 Eric Clapton

3 Jimmy Page

4 Stevie Ray Vaughan

5 Joe Satriani

6 Peter Green

7 Kurt Cobain

8 Eddie Van Halen

9 Jeff Beck

10 Mark Knopfler