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.
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?"
Today's matchup pits Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy" (27) against Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" (38), featuring the fretwork of Jimmy Page. Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Winner: "Machine Gun" (65.56 percent)
Loser: "The Thrill Is Gone" (33.44 percent)
Round 1, Day 5: "Pride and Joy" Vs. "Whole Lotta Love"
27. “Pride and Joy”
Soloist: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Album: Texas Flood (Epic, 1983)
“Pride and Joy” was recorded during the same 48-hour period as “Texas Flood”; both had been Vaughan live standbys for many years. “Stevie wrote ‘Pride and Joy’ for this new girlfriend he had when he was inspired by their relationship,” says drummer Chris Layton. “Then they had a fight and he turned around and wrote ‘I’m Cryin’,’ which is really the same song, just the flip side, lyrically.”
When “Pride and Joy” was released as Texas Flood’s first single, it quickly put the then unknown Texas guitar slinger on the national blues-rock map. More cosmically, it also signaled that from-the-gut guitar music was not dead as a commercial and artistic force, no matter how many hits Culture Club and Flock of Seagulls had on Solid Gold. “When I heard that on the radio, I just said, ‘Hallelujah,’ ” recalls Dickey Betts, whose Allman Brothers Band were prominent casualties of the age’s anti-guitar disease. “He was just so good and strong and he would not be denied. He single handedly brought guitar and blues-oriented music back to the marketplace.”
38. "Whole Lotta Love”
Soloist: Jimmy Page
Album: Led Zeppelin—Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic, 1969)
“I used distant miking to get that rhythm guitar tone,” says Jimmy Page. “Miking used to be a science, and I’d heard that distance makes depth, which in turn gives you a fatter guitar sound. The amp was turned up very high. It was distorting, just controlled to the point where it had some balls to it. I also used a depressed wah-wah pedal on the solo, as I did on ‘Communication Breakdown.’ It gets you a really raucous sound. The descending riff that answers the line ‘whole lotta love’ was created using slide and backward echo. Backward echo has been used a lot now, but I think I was the first to use it.”