A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World magazine compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (Number 100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (Number 1).
To quote our "Stairway" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
We've kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We're pitting Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we will ask you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket (which we will share soon!).
Note that you can vote only once per matchup. The voting for each matchup ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day during the first round of elimination, including weekends and holidays).
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo, for instance. But let's get real: They're all guitar solos, played on guitars, by guitarists, most of them in some subset of the umbrella genre of rock. When choosing, it might have to come down to, "Which solo is more original and creative? Which is more iconic? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Voting started Monday, June 10, 2013. Today's matchup pits Ritchie Blackmore's work on Deep Purple's "Highway Star" (15) against Kiss' "Shock Me," featuring Ace Frehley (50). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Winner: "For the Love of God" (67.82 percent)
Loser: "Black Star" (32.18 percent)
Round 1, Day 3: "Highway Star" Vs. "Shock Me"
15. “Highway Star”
Soloist: Ritchie Blackmore
Album: Deep Purple—Machine Head (Warner Bros., 1972)
“I wrote that out note for note about a week before we recorded it,” says Ritchie Blackmore. “And that is one of the only times I have ever done that. I wanted it to sound like someone driving in a fast car, for it to be one of those songs you would listen to while speeding. And I wanted a very definite Bach sound, which is why I wrote it out—and why I played those very rigid arpeggios across that very familiar Bach progression—Dm, Gm, Cmaj, Amaj. I believe that I was the first person to do that so obviously on the guitar, and I believe that that’s why it stood out and why people have enjoyed it so much.
“[Keyboardist] Jon Lord worked his part out to mine. Initially, I was going to play my solo over the chords he had planned out. But I couldn’t get off on them, so I made up my own chords and we left the spot for him to write a melody. The keyboard solo is quite a bit more difficult than mine because of all those 16th notes. Over the years, I’ve always played that solo note for note—again, one of the few where I’ve done that—but it just got faster and faster onstage because we would drink more and more whiskey. Jon would have to play his already difficult part faster and faster and he would get very annoyed about it.”
50. "Shock Me”
Soloist: Ace Frehley
Album: Kiss—Alive II (Mercury, 1977)
“I basically did the same solo every night on that tour, with minor alterations, so I had it kind of planned out when I did it the night we recorded it live for Alive II,” says Ace Frehley.
“But if you listen carefully to the ‘Shock Me’ solo you can hear me make a mistake about two thirds of the way through. Instead of tapping a B at the 19th fret of the high E string, I accidentally hit the A# note at the 18th fret—that’s definitely a wrong note for the scale I’m using. We could have fixed it in the mix, but I said to Eddie [Kramer, Alive II producer], ‘Screw it! Leave it in. The run sounds cool, so who cares—it’s rock and roll!’ ”