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” (100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (01).
To quote our "Stairway to Heaven" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
In June, we kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We pitted Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we asked you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket. Now Round 1 has come and gone, leaving us with 32 guitar solo and 16 (sweet) matchups.
You can vote only once per matchup, and the voting ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day).
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?"
Winner: "Whole Lotta Love" (57.24 percent)
Loser: "November Rain" (42.76 percent)
Today's Round 2 Matchup (14 of 16)
"All Along the Watchtower" Vs. "Mr. Crowley"
Sorry for the late start today! We're also very sorry to hear about the passing of J.J. Cale, the singer/guitarist who wrote "Cocaine," "Call Me the Breeze," "After Midnight" and many more great songs, several of which were made popular by other artists, including Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was 74. RIP!
Round 2 of our Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time readers poll continues with Jimi Hendrix's classic guitar solo on his Bob Dylan cover, "All Along the Watchtower" (05), against Randy Rhoads' solo on Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" (28). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the very bottom of the story. We'll include an updated bracket with Monday's poll story.
05. “All Along the Watchtower”
Soloist: Jimi Hendrix
Album: The Jimi Hendrix Experience—Electric Ladyland (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 1968)
Joining the Experience for the initial “Watchtower” session was Traffic guitarist Dave Mason, who, it was decided, would contribute a 12-string acoustic part. “Dave hung out a lot with Jimi and was a regular in the studio,” says engineer Eddie Kramer. “Jimi was aware of his ability and felt that he could cover the part adequately.”
Jimi, says Kramer, had a firm understanding of just how the song was to be arranged and performed, but the session proved to be anything but smooth. Mason, whose job it was to double Jimi’s six-string acoustic rhythm part, struggled mightily, causing Jimi to reprimand him several times.
Hendrix and Noel Redding also clashed, and the bassist, angered by what he saw as Jimi’s obsessive quest for perfection, bolted from the studio midway through the session. Mason took over the bass in Redding’s absence, but Hendrix ultimately overdubbed the part himself, using a small, custom bass guitar that Bill Wyman had given to Andy Johns.
After the basic rhythm tracks were finally completed to Jimi’s satisfaction, he turned his attention to the song’s four distinct solo sections, each of which were recorded separately. “Once Jimi started working on his solos, the session moved very quickly,” says Kramer. “The thing that occurs to me was how completely prepared he was. One thing that people don’t realize is that Jimi always did his homework. He and producer Chas Chandler always got together to work out ideas well before he walked into the studio. Jimi knew exactly what he wanted to play
“He used a different tone setting for each part. I recall him using a cigarette lighter to play the slide section, and that the delay effect on each of the sections was applied later. I used an EMT plate reverb—that was the only thing available to us at the time.”
28. “Mr. Crowley”
Soloist: Randy Rhoads
Album: Ozzy Osbourne—Blizzard of Ozz (Epic, 1981)
“I’d have to say that ‘Mr. Crowley’ is my most memorable solo,” said Randy Rhoads. “I had spent hours trying to figure out a solo for the song, but wasn’t getting anywhere. I finally put something down. Then Ozzy came in and said, ‘It’s crap—everything you’re playing is crap.’ He told me to get in there and just play how I felt. He made me really nervous, so I just played anything. When I came back to listen to it, he said it was great, and I had to agree.”
[[ When you're done voting, start learning every guitar solo in this poll — and more! Check out a new TAB book from Guitar World and Hal Leonard: 'The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: A Treasure Trove of Guitar Leads Transcribed Note-for-Note, Plus Song Notes for More Than 40 of the Best Solos.' It's available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $29.99. ]]