If you could have the musical ability of any musician, living or dead, what would it be?
This is not easy. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking the guitar chops of Jimi Hendrix, the voice of Thom Yorke, the drumming skills of Neil Peart, and on down the line. The scope of this question is utterly ridiculous, but I'm trying to approach it from a purely logical perspective. The voice of Thom or any singer for that matter will probably change over the course of aging, so there's a longevity issue. This also presents a unique set of circumstances for guitar players and drummers--how long will your extremities be limber enough to perform like that on a regular basis? I think Page & Clapton are still around, plugging away. Page plays a more physically demanding style of guitar, but I hear his performance in London wasn't too bad. I think you have to rule out any drummer/percussionist because its simply impossible to keep playing at that pace. There's also not that much social value in drummers.
Composers probably make a decent amount of money, and they can stay in that line of work pretty much until they die. Songwriting ability is another category: Cobain, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, etc. None of these talents are as sexy. I think when it comes to music, the most cherished template for a musician is a great guitar player, and if I had to choose, I'd go with Jimmy Page.
Talk amongst yourselves.