@angel_of_sin - If by GNR you refer to Slash, apart from what flood has already posted, Slash exclusively uses SD Alnico pros on all his guitars. They are vintage voiced pickups (not high output) with Alnico II magnets and coil windings less than 8k. It has a spongier low-end so "crisp" output pickups (most actives) are a strict no.
@alpha1 - Regarding the "which came first" theory, I'm pretty sure if you make a guitar-history-blind person hear a tube and solid state, he/she would (and have) liked the tube-based amps. It's not all mojo. Most of it is attributed to the clipping characteristics of a tube vs SS transistors. Transistors have a sharper "cut" on the signal than tubes, which leads to the output having different harmonic content.
There is a lot of text on the net on this topic, which provides insights into both the technical and psychacoustical aspects of it.
Having said that, there is no "right or wrong". Dimebag, along with millions of his fans, hugged SS distortion. Slash swears by his all-tube marshalls. So on and so forth for other guitarist.
My gear, currently up for sale
Washburn X-16 anarchy - SOLD!!
duncan pickups - I wonder why Im selling these.