There’s nothing that whips the crowd into a frenzy quite like an incredible guitar solo. It’s time for the lead singer to take a backseat as the spotlight shines brightly on the guitarist showing off their skills. The best solos have all gone down in history and fans will never forget the first time they blew their minds. It’s time to kneel at the feet of your guitar heroes as we count down our top 10 guitar solos of all time.
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
Nothing says rock and roll like Johnny B. Goode. He may have come from deep down Louisiana close to New Orleans but the fictional country boy has gone global thanks to Chuck Berry. Simple and catchy, this guitar phrase is deceptive. While you may have heard renditions of this song time and time again, no one plays it with the deftness of Berry.
Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Think of ‘Teen Spirit’ and your mind jumps instantly to the power chord progression which will forever define the grunge movement. However, a careful listen reveals that it’s Kurt Cobain’s solo that really makes the song with its angst-filled sound.
Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name
They’re the alternative metal kings who combine spitting rage with a musical atomic bomb. Zack de la Rocha may be the main man delivering the band’s political agenda, but guitarist Tom Morello is also a force to be reckoned with. His inimitable style is showcased at its best here, providing a mosh-pit anthem for decades to come.
Michael Jackson – Beat It
Jackson and guest guitarist Eddie Van Halen earned their iconic place in music history with this stand-out track from Thriller. Jackson’s outstanding pop vocals and Van Halen’s rock edge proved to be a magical combination, owing in no small part to the irresistible guitar solo.
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil
This Stones classic can seem to be overshadowed by the intriguing lyrics which personify Satan himself and the rousing drum beat. That’s until Keith Richards makes his clarion call for attention two and half minutes in with a solo to delight the audience.
The Strokes – Last Nite
Indie songsmiths The Strokes show off their rock credentials with this early hit. It may be over a decade since this track featured on debut album Is This It, but the crowd still went wild when they played an energetic rendition at London’s Hyde Park this month.
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
These hard-rock favourites helped to popularise the sound of the Deep South with tunes such as Sweet Home Alabama. It’s the gentler Free Bird which boasts the most jaw-dropping solo, though. You may have to wait a few minutes, but the pay-off is big.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll
The leather-clad queen of rock turned this Arrows track into an anthem with her raw, edgy version. She made her name with The Runaways, but this song cemented her firmly in the rock and roll hall of fame. However, it’s Ricky Byrd’s solo that takes the song into the stratosphere.
The Libertines – Time for Heroes
The lads had clearly been taking inspiration from their rock elders with this riotous track. After an impressive build-up, the solo is as chaotic as the anarchic band themselves. Few bands have matched them in creativity and innovation since.
Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child
He’s the legend who changed electric guitar forever. One of the most revered musicians to ever have taken to the stage; Hendrix pushed the boundaries of sound. The solo on Voodoo Child is truly unforgettable. No one has been able to successfully replicate it. Others have come close – most notably Stevie Ray Vaughan – but Hendrix stills holds on to the number one spot.