I've recently re-introduced BB Rows (after 6 years off due to low back trouble). I used to rest my head on an adjustable bench. NOT a good idea. It places tremendous stress on the neck. This stress would be similar to supporting heavy weight on you forehead while doing ab crunches (I did this with ~75lb for months: also NOT a good idea. I got problems with pinched nerves that led to severe weakening of my right tricep.) So I dont do either of these now.
What I did do was strengthen my low back using hypers, gently progressing; first reps then increase weight with lower reps then increase reps again.
Once I felt I'd gained reasonable strength (35kg for 3sets of 12 on a 45degree back raise) I did a couple of months heavy DB rows and then started BB rows. Strict style: real tight arch knees unlocked body at 45degrees NO jerking. I may not be as strong as I like but last progression went to 100kg for 3 sets of 6reps.
Following week dropped weight (8kg) and upped reps to 12's. Hopefully I can make continued steady progresion like this, as could you.
It should be faster for you, if you dont have to get around pre-existing injuries / stupidity !
Always remember this:
1. THERE ARE NO MUST DO EXERCISES!
2. Everyone is different.