When I was in college in Austin back in 1971, i used to sit around and jamb with a guitar player who was,at least, 5 times as good as me. He was intimidatingly good. He was "i'll never be that good"...good.
In the 60's, he moved to London to try to make it big as a rock guitar player. He very sincerely told me that he was invited to jamb with Jeff Beck and went. And that Jeff Beck was so overwhelmingly better than he was...it caused him call up mum and dad...fly back to the US and enroll in engineering at UT.
I've never seen Jeff Beck play anything that seemed other worldly in skill, such as Cliffs Of Dover by Eric Johnson,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUECcou-34A
but a formula one car idling through a parking is no indication of it's capabilities either. Beck always seemed invested in the sound he was making, rather than showing off.
Well his main thing is that nobody can sound exactly like him. His technique, the sounds he generates from just himself. You could put Jimmy page on stage with Jeff Becks gear, same guitar, same amp, same exact setup, and Beck will do things that Page couldn't replicate.
He can play any style, jazz, blues, fusion, rock, country, rockabiliy, you name it. I think thats one thing that seperates him from others, his ability to play anything.
Somebody like Eddie Van Halen may seem "other-worldy" and to this day, ive never seen any guitarist who did anything as jaw dropping as EV, much more flashy and entertaining, and alot of people dont consider EV when they mention greats, I guess cause hes not a blues player, and played in a band known for partying and not meaningful music.
That sad, Beck is probably the better musician than EV.
But even though your friend change his career, he probably shouldnt have. Ive said it before and ill say it again, music is not a competition. Im not going to outplay, outsing, out produce, out write, out perform, outdance anybody. Neither will 99% of people out there.
Imagine the Ramones felt that way, we'd never have.... one of my favorite songs of all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loFLdYM79gY